The Fastest Way to Sell a House in 2022
When it comes to selling a house — the faster you can do it, the better. The longer the home is on the market, the higher the probability of getting a lower offer (especially with rising interest rates which might mess up the buyers' purchasing power)
On top of the strategic aspect, a fast sale may be a necessity. Perhaps you’re strapped for cash or are nervous about holding onto an old inherited house that’s racking up tax bills. A divorce, a family member in need, a baby on the way — sometimes life sends you looking for the fastest way to sell a house.
Although the nation largely remains a seller’s market, the recent spike in mortgage rates to over 5% could signal a shift in the latter half of 2022. If and when the real estate scales start to balance, sellers should expect to work a little harder on their home presentation if they want to sell fast.
Here we take a closer look at your selling options and why a cash offer is almost always going to be the fastest path to closing.
Weigh your selling options
To unload your house in a hurry, first decide how you want to appeal to buyers. Your main options are to request a cash offer, work with a top agent who sells homes fast, or to sell the home yourself — an option known as For Sale By Owner, or FSBO. Here’s a look at each.
1. Request a cash offer
Let’s say you prep your house to perfection, attract an offer in only a few days, and enter the closing phase of the sale. It’s a dream seller scenario, but even so, you’ll likely still be weeks or even months out from closing.
When you list a home, it’s hard to predict whether you’ll receive an offer from a cash buyer or a financed buyer prequalified for a home loan. But you’re more likely to see the latter, considering 87% of recent buyers financed their home purchase.
With a financed buyer, steps like the inspection and lender-ordered appraisal add time. Your buyer’s loan will also need to be processed, which takes 48 days on average in today’s market, according to May 2022 data from Ice Mortgage Technologies.
Despite best laid plans, selling your home the traditional way isn’t always fast enough. Thankfully, you’re not stuck. As an alternative, you can go out and request a cash offer from a real estate investor or house-buying company to speed things along. Benefits to this route include:
Receive a near-instant offer, rather than wait an average 17 days
No risk that your buyer’s mortgage will fall through
Save money on real estate agent commission fees
Skip the hassle and cost of repairs
Close in a matter of weeks or even days, compared to the months it can take with a financed buyer
Due to the lack of lender involvement, a cash buyer is able to operate more nimbly and on a shorter timeline, providing convenience and certainty to sellers.
You’ll have to weigh the advantages against the possibility of a reduced offer, since investors aren’t likely to raise their bid out of emotion and will intend to make a profit by flipping or renting out the home.
However, when you eliminate home prep costs — such as fixing a rotted deck or installing a new front door — and you account for agent agent fees of 5%-6%, you may end up with a similar amount of money from a cash buyer as you do with a traditional listing process.
Request a cash offer for your house in Harford County, MD and surrounding areas by filling this form.
2. Hire a top agent who sells homes fast
90% of recent sellers were assisted by a real estate agent in the sale of their home, according to 2021 data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), so working with an agent is always a valid route. If you’re not interested in pursuing a cash offer, skilled real estate agents are used to moving swiftly to negotiate repairs related to a home inspection, title issues, and other snags that crop up along the way.
3. Go FSBO
If you have a relative, friend, or neighbor who wants to buy your house, selling it yourself could be feasible. FSBO sales accounted for 8% of recent home sales, but 77% of these sold in less than two weeks, often because the buyer was someone the seller knows, according to data from NAR.
The FSBO option saves you on a listing agent’s commission (about 3% of the sale price, based on the national average). On the downside, you’re left to handle the pricing, marketing, prep work, staging, price negotiation, and contracts yourself.
You’re also likely to sell your home for at least 5.5% less than if you used an experienced agent. So you can always keep FSBO on the table as an option, but be aware of the potential cons.
Ready, set, sell
If you decide to list your home, take the below steps to help it sell faster.
Be smart about the listing price
To sell your house fast, attract buyers with the right price. Start with your real estate agent’s comparative market analysis that evaluates your home against other recently sold or active properties similar in factors such as square footage, location, and age.
A lender will require an appraisal to determine the amount of funds they are willing to provide, so don’t let hot market conditions or unrealistic expectations cause you to set the price unreasonably high. If your house would normally be worth $350,000, it won’t “magically” and credibly become worth $500,000 a few months later because of higher demand, according to appraisers in the business.
Clean, declutter, and depersonalize
It’s the triple threat that buyers can’t resist: a house that’s clean, clutter-free, and neutral like a blank canvas. Here’s what we mean.
(Almost) everything must go
Goodbye stacks of magazines, junk scattered across countertops, and clunky items eating up your floor space.
Buyers love spaciousness, so go through each room and take a minimalist approach, experienced stagers recommend.
Even when selling fast, take the time to clean like you mean it. You can’t expect to get a quick offer if buyers encounter gym sock odors and a sink full of dirty dishes when they arrive. But go beyond basic tidying up. Make sure the floors aren’t scuffed up and the glass in your bay window sparkles in the afternoon sunshine. Always vacuum before a showing and keep Clorox wipes on hand to freshen up your bathrooms in a jiff.
If you don’t have the time or the inclination to get your hands dirty, hire a cleaning service.
Make quick repairs (but don’t over-renovate)
Ask your agent about necessary fixes to clear a home inspection, such as:
An old or damaged roof
A damaged electrical system
Insect or pest infestation
HVAC system issues
Some states require inspectors to check for certain items.
A buyer’s lender also might have particular requirements, depending on whether the buyer uses a conventional or government loan. VA, FHA, or USDA loans vary in their requirements, but in general, these involve:
No lead-based paint
Secure handrails on stairs or steps
Bedroom windows with outside access in case of emergency
No unpermitted renovations
No encroachments on neighboring property
Beyond that, emphasize that the home is light, bright, and clean. Even a few hundred dollars and a bit of elbow grease can make a huge impact. Time-permitting, here are some fixes that top agents recommend:
Refresh or replace the carpets:
If your carpets aren’t outdated, dirty, torn, or stained, a professional cleaning can make them look new.
Replacing 2,000 square feet of carpeting runs about $14,000 to $24,000, which includes the carpeting, installation, and backing.
Buff and polish hardwood floors:
Refinishing wood floors costs between about $1,000 to $2,500 (about $800 to $1,300 for a 16×16-foot room), regardless of the wood. You also can refresh hardwood flooring that shows wear and tear through buffing (about $200 to $250 for a 15×15-foot room). Have a flooring professional apply polish to make the floors gleam afterward, or take on that project yourself for about $150 for supplies.
Touch up or repaint the walls:
If your walls have a chip here or there (and you can match the color), you likely can tackle that project yourself. Redo a room that looks dark or outdated for about $3.50 per square foot, or roughly $200 to $800 per room. Choose a neutral shade such as Agreeable Gray by Sherwin-Williams.
Install a dimmer switch or a new thermostat:
A dimmer switch helps set the mood in a family room, dining room, or even a bedroom, plus it extends the life of your light bulbs and helps you save on electricity, according to Lowe’s. Prices start at about $20-$30 per switch, plus supplies such as a wire stripper and a wall plate (if needed).
The home store offers a step-by-step guide for installing one yourself but you should hire an electrician if you aren’t comfortable with it or your home’s wiring isn’t compatible with the instructions.
As for a thermostat, energy-conscious buyers like the flexibility of a programmable thermostat, which costs less than $50 and looks modern and sleek. This best-selling Honeywell thermostat is about $30 and installs easily.
Redo the caulk around the sinks and the tub:
Home Depot has a step-by-step guide for removing and replacing caulk that’s dingy, moldy, or dirty. This project can cost less than $50 for supplies such as caulk, a paint scraper, and a utility knife.
Bleach away mold in bathroom grout:
Experts recommend scrubbing with a mix of water and bleach, or special cleaners which also can tackle hard water stains, mineral deposits, soap scum, and refresh stainless steel fixtures.
Spring for new cabinet handles, hinges, and door knobs:
These provide a fresh and new feeling for a low cost. Prices vary depending on materials, but expect to pay about $35 to $50 for a set of 10 knobs at Home Depot.
Update appliances (if you can afford it):
Traditional stainless steel is the most in-demand finish among today’s homebuyers, 75% of top agents say. Updating to all-new stainless steel appliances (including the refrigerator, stove, range hood, dishwasher, and microwave) costs an average of $4,229, with an average estimated ROI of $5,982, or 41.5%.
Your agent also can advise you on which repairs are worthwhile based on your price point.
Improve your curb appeal
You don’t have to go wild outdoors, either. Agents estimate that clients can yield an ROI of 238% for investing an average of $3,467 on curb appeal projects, including:
Attend to basic yard care (cut grass, weed control, fertilization)
Spread three cubic yards of bark mulch to plant beds
Tidy the landscaping (shrubs, walkway, and flower beds)
Stage the home to stoke buyers’ imaginations
Staging strategically arranges furniture and other decorative items to show off a home’s features.
About 67% of top agents say that staging increases the sale price, especially when sellers focus on the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen. Staging experts share these suggestions:
Remove furniture. Pare down the living room to a sofa and accent table or the bedroom to the bed and two nightstands, to make rooms feel larger.
Whittle down the closets, too, to create “breathing room” for clothing, towels, and linens.
Store books, DVDs, toys, throw pillows, and blankets not in regular use.
Keep tabletops simple. For example, leave only a lamp on a nightstand.
Pack away little-used utensils, dishes, glasses, and seasonal cookware. Set the toaster and occasional appliances inside the cabinets.
Uncover the windows to let in natural light.
Add fresh produce to a basket or organizer in the kitchen for a welcoming splash of color, but remember less is more.
Set out an aromatic bar of lavender soap in the bathroom for subtle fragrance and color and top off with fluffy white bath towels.
Add a welcoming accent to your rooms with green plants such as ferns or colorful flowers in vases.
Take professional real estate photos
More than ever, house hunters scroll through home listings on a smartphone or tablet when they’re ready to buy. NAR statistics show that 95% of recent buyers used the internet to search for a home, with 41% looking at properties online as their first step.
Professional photos that are clear and sharp could net you thousands of dollars more in your home sale. 84% of buyers rank listing photos as “very useful”, according to NAR’s 2022 Generational Trends Report. Many agents will include professional photography as part of their listing services.
Market your home on social media
In addition to the MLS and major home search sites, you’ll want to list your home on social media.
Host an open house (digital or in-person)
With a traditional open house, buyers can take measurements, peek inside closets and cabinets, and scope out a home’s features. Virtual open houses enable your agent to show the home live on a hosting platform, such as Zoom or Facebook, for potential buyers to watch. They can ask questions while the agent points out features, turns light fixtures on and off, checks the faucets’ water pressure, and so on.
Accommodate buyer showing requests
Some buyers want to drop by and see the property on their own schedule. To sell your house fast, expect to be show-ready night and day for a few days. Let your agent know the best way to reach you, so they can call or text you to whip the house into shape in a flash. Then have an action plan, such as:
Designate a suitcase, car trunk, or closet storage bin as a spot to quickly stash anything that needs to be out of sight, from toys to tissue boxes.
Make the bed, preferably with a solid, neutral comforter or bedspread.
Take out the trash.
Flip on the lights.
Each day, spread out a towel over the bathroom vanity to catch makeup powder, or use a beard bib to collect shaving mess. Give the bathroom fixtures a swipe with rubbing alcohol and microfiber towels.
Gather up any pets, and head out!
You’ve got what you need: Now go sell that house!
The best way to sell your house is the one that works with your timeline and your needs. If you plan to put out that “For Sale” sign, amp up your home’s curb appeal, presentation, and market it like crazy. Those in a bigger hurry may prefer to request a cash offer from a cash buyer like Easy Outs Homes and reduce the overall number of steps and days needed to officially close. The choice is always yours but either way, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions!