How to Sell a House that Needs Work without doing much work
Selling a home involves putting it out there to attract potential buyers. Yet if your patchy lawn and peeling paint look shabby compared to the chic walkway lights and lush landscaping down the street, you might feel like hiding it.
No worries. If you’re wondering how to sell a house that needs work, we’ve got tips from real estate pros who have seen houses in various conditions to get you to the closing table with confidence.
Learn more about your buyer pool
It’s natural to wonder how a home that needs TLC can compete with turnkey properties, especially when the median existing-home sales price reached record highs in 2021. Yet the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) notes that the typical home purchased in 2020 was built in 1993 — hardly the newest kid on the block.
Maybe you haven’t maintained your home regularly or you’ve inherited it. Regardless, your house doesn’t have to be perfect for these buyers. It just has to show the potential for them to make money, build equity, or obtain the lifestyle they want within their budget.
Possible buyer #1: The real estate investor
What’s a real estate investor?
Real estate investors can be individual house flippers, small or large scale rental landlords, or even house-buying companies such as Easy Outs Homes which is located in Bel Air, MD and buys houses in Harford County, MD and surrounding areas.
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How do they operate?
These buyers usually pay with all-cash and prefer to buy homes off-market. Many will purchase homes “as is,” meaning the seller isn’t expected to do any work.
For this type of buyer, a purchase is generally all about how the numbers shake out since they don’t plan to live in the property. Would the costs of buying and rehabbing the property allow the buyer to resell it at a decent profit? Or, alternatively, would the cash flow cover their expenses should they aim to rent the property?
How to sell your fixer-upper to an investor
Because price drives the investor, you don’t have to stress about looking through paint or flooring swatches. However, you should still prepare the house so it’s presentable, especially for your peace of mind.
1. Spend a few hours cleaning up
When you sell your home to an investor, you skip the process of staging and showing your home. However, an investor is still likely to perform a digital or in-person walkthrough of the property. The investor may arrange to stop by or send a representative of their business to perform an assessment.
Do what you can to make this a good experience. Clean dirty dishes, run the vacuum, and make the beds. Clear countertops and use a multi-purpose cleaner to scrub the bathrooms. Even when you sell “as is,” a little sprucing up never hurts.
Arrange for a dumpster if you have a ton of junk. Close says in his area, most sellers don’t realize that they can rent a dumpster for about $300 for a week, including a company’s drop-off and removal fees, which can expedite the process.
Along with your home’s looks, focus on its smell. “We always walk the property and do a smell test,” says Joseph, whose office has cleaners ready to help before listing. “If the smell is off, most of the time, that’s a deterrent. That might cause someone to not even buy the house.”
2. Get a home value estimate
Do a little research on your home’s value before you accept an offer from an investor.
3. Collect contractor estimates
It is worth to get estimates from a team of contractors, plumbers, and builders to help set and negotiate a price.
An investor who has contractors on staff might pay less for repairs and renovations than someone hiring contractors a bit at a time, Close adds. However, he finds that having estimates available helps sellers gain a fuller picture of their property’s condition when he’s ready to negotiate.
If the house is dated, you still have to redo everything: the whole kitchen, the countertops, the cabinets, the flooring, paint the walls, remove wallpaper. If the house is in disrepair, you’re still going to have to do all those things.
4. Request a cash offer and sell ‘as is’
Now that you have an estimate of home value and an idea of what repairs to your home might cost, you’re ready to see what an investor would pay.
Consider requesting a cash offer by filling the quick form. This allows sellers to close in as little as 10 days and provides cash offers for homes in almost any condition.
How to sell a fixer-upper
Your fixer-upper could be the perfect home for a buyer who seeks a clean slate and the chance to design a home they haven’t been able to find or buy for the right price, especially in a coveted area.
1. Collect expert opinions
Time to bring in the pros. Consider making these hires as you embark on selling your home.
Real estate agent
If you’re overwhelmed by the prospect of selling a fixer-upper, enlist the help of a top real estate agent who routinely sells homes that need some work.
To determine home value, your real estate agent will conduct a comparative market analysis (CMA) that analyzes local comparable sales or “comps.”
Comps are homes similar in size, amenities, structure, and age to your own that recently sold in your area. Real estate professionals and home appraisers use comps as a reference point for the subject home and then make dollar adjustments based on competitive differences.
An agent’s pricing expertise will be an invaluable tool in selling your fixer-upper.
An inspector can also be your friend, even if you’re a little worried about what the inspection would find. Better to go in eyes-wide-open as to what issues may trip up your sale. You can opt to get a pre-listing inspection to identify any significant problems that might limit your buyer pool, such as repairs that might prohibit buyers with FHA loans from purchasing.
While you might not be able financially to handle every repair, talk with your agent about necessary disclosures and how to bridge negotiation gaps with add-ins such as a home warranty.
2. Clean up the yard and the house
Take the time to clean your home to grab buyers’ attention and your highest price.
And don’t forget about curb appeal. You don’t have to spend a ton, but remove weeds, mow the grass, plant flower pots, and spread mulch to create an inviting entrance.
3. Make small and affordable fixes
Whether it’s because you can’t afford to make major renovations or don’t have the time, you don’t really have to in a saturated market.
Think of it this way: the less you repair, the more equity you might have to give away in order to make the house worth it. Small repairs include but aren’t limited to:
Add some landscaping
Patch nail holes in drywall
Deep clean stained tubs and toilets
Fix broken or squeaky hinges and doors
Fix leaky pipes
Add new caulk around the tub and sink
Replace cabinet knobs or handles
Treat stains in your carpet
4. Mention renovation loans in your listing or at your showing
A renovation loan may be one of your most useful tools when selling your fixer-upper. If buyers go this route, they can factor the projected renovation costs into their total loan amount rather than buying the home and then paying to make upgrades separately. Some renovation loans include the FHA 203(k) loan and the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation loan.
A savvy agent who can mention this funding in the listing or at a showing can help buyers plan for the possibilities.
5. Highlight location features and best qualities
The quality of the neighborhood and convenience to family and friends are top factors in a buyer’s purchase decision.
What makes a quality neighborhood?
A typically suburban neighborhood
A park area
Proximity to retail space
A walkable community
As for your home’s interior, think of the big picture. What most buyers would like to see:
A laundry room and exterior lighting
An open layout
A two-car garage
Buyers also highly ranked these other features:
A patio and front porch
A double sink and walk-in pantry in the kitchen
Energy Star windows and appliances
For either potential buyer: Be honest about the work your home needs
Although some people might be more embarrassed about their home’s condition than necessary, others living in a home that needs work sometimes don’t realize how much work it needs.
So, your home isn’t move-in ready? You can still sell it
Whether you’re nervous about what potential buyers might think of your carpeting or worried that your roof won’t survive the listing process, you can still sell a house that needs work and pick a method that works for you.
Your main options are to request a cash offer from a cash buyer like Easy Outs Homes and sell as-is with little fuss. Alternatively, you may choose to invest a little elbow grease to clean and make light repairs, then price the property appropriately to attract a bargain hunter. When in doubt, you can always reach out to a top local real estate agent for guidance.