U.S. homeowners have no shortage of reasons to sell their homes fast: a job transfer, an imminent foreclosure or even the chance to downsize into your new dream home. But when you need to act fast, you’ll need a sharper game plan that includes a few critical steps.
First off, let’s change the definition of a "quick" sale. In years past, a quick sale meant you popped a for-sale sign into your front yard and you had a deal a week or two later. Nowadays, with ultra-choosy buyers proceeding with caution and with new government rules that increase the amount of paperwork needed to cut a home purchase deal, a quick home sale may mean 90 days or so. (If you doubt that number, ask any neighbor who’s had that sign in his or her yard for the past six months).
Obviously, there are some no-brainers involved in selling a home fast. Those include keeping your home immaculate, completing any needed repairs, both big and small and putting a rational and realistic sale price on your home. Once again, ask any real estate agent what the biggest hang-up is on a stalled home sale, and they’ll tell you it’s unrealistic expectations from a homeowner on what the house is worth.
Emotionally, it’s hard to let go of the 20-year housing boom cycle, where home prices rose year-to-year no matter what. Now, with home prices down by 30% or 40% in some U.S. regions (most notably California, Florida and Arizona) it’s difficult for homeowners to accept the fact that their homes are worth $35,000 less than they think they're worth.
So lesson number one is this — if you want to sell your home fast, list it at a reasonable price. Otherwise, expect to play the waiting game.
Other key tips:
Focus on local “sold” prices. Too many home sellers target neighborhood list prices, and not the actual final sale prices of homes in their neighborhood recently. Web sites like Zillow.com can help with ballpark figures, but a site like Listingbook.com, which publishes contract home sales across the U.S., is more helpful if you want to sell your home fast.