Selling a home can often take months, even years. So what if you have to unload your home in, say, two weeks?
It can happen: Whether you need to relocate for a new job, to care for an elderly family member who's suddenly fallen ill, or because you simply can't handle your mortgage payments for even one more month, there are plenty of circumstances in which you might need to unload your precious home at lightning speed.
It can be done. Just check out these tactics and tips if time is of the essence.
Price it to move
While everyone dreams of selling their home for top dollar, if you need to sell quickly, this is one time to price your home on the modest end -- even a bit below its actual value.
"A conservative list price should encourage multiple offers and lead to a faster sale," says Carrie Benuska, a Realtor at John Aaroe Group in Pasadena, CA.
Set a hard deadline
Want to bring buyers out of the woodwork quickly? It's easy: Set a deadline for offers.
You can make this clear in your listing by saying you will be accepting offers only until a certain date -- even as tight as one to two weeks after your home is listed for sale. That said, you should probably not announce why you need to sell quickly due to a new job or other circumstance, because buyers will smell desperation and take advantage of that. Just state your deadline without further explanation, and watch the offers roll in.
Sell to a flipper
There's no faster home sale out there than to a flipper. These buyers enable you to usually sell the home as is -- often for cash -- removing the burden of costly home repairs.
"These situations usually appeal to homeowners who just need to get a property off their hands," says Benuska. But there are downsides: Flippers may demand below-market price, so they can resell it later for a larger profit. So just be sure your flipper isn't fleecing you up the wazoo; at the very least, compare offers from two or more investors so they can't steamroll you.
"Some sellers offer cash for the buyer's agent if a full-price offer is received by a specific date," says Wendy Flynn, owner of Wendy Flynn Realty in College Station, TX. Other times, the incentive is for the buyer who might score a refrigerator or other furniture for acting fast.
"I recently saw an offer that included seven flat-screen televisions and two Tempur-Pedic mattresses," says Flynn.
Sell to a developer
It may sound drastic, but if you want to sell simply and quickly, consider selling directly to a developer. That person would purchase your home for the value of its land, tear down the property, and build a new one in its place.
"This might be a good option for people in urban or suburban areas where land is scarce and the home is older and its value has depreciated," explains Cheryl Julcher, principal and managing broker of Yellow Brick Properties in Belleville, IL. "The benefit for the seller is that the condition of the home is irrelevant -- it's going to be torn down anyway. The downside is the seller has to reconcile the fact that their home will cease to exist, which can be tough emotionally."
Avoid guaranteed sales programs
If you ever see a sign that reads, "If we don't sell your home in 30 days, we'll buy it," run away fast.
"These are complete scams," says Janine Acquafredda, associate broker at House-N-Key Realty in Brooklyn, NY. Here's how it usually works: The real estate agent promises to list a home for a fixed period of time and if it's not sold, he or she will buy it directly from the seller.
"It sounds like a good deal because in either case, the owner makes a sale," says Acquafredda. "In reality, the agent often has no intention of putting the home on the market and in the end, pays the lowest possible market price for the home."
Talk to your neighbors
Before you list your home on the market, check in with the locals.
"Lots of times, people want to live near relatives or they're looking to buy in their own neighborhood," says Acquafredda. "Selling to a neighbor speeds up the entire process, and you won't have to pay for marketing, advertising, and, in some states, the attorney's fee."
Do potential buyers want to view your home at 6 p.m. on a Saturday? Let 'em in.
"Ease of showing is a huge factor in whether a home sells quickly," says Acquafredda. "When a buyer is ready, willing, and able, you can strike while the iron is hot."