🔑 Key takeaways:
If your goal is to sell your home fast, you have three options:
Listing a home generally gives home sellers an opportunity to get a much higher sale price because they can entertain competitive bids from multiple buyers. However, there's no guarantee that a home will sell fast on the open market — it depends on factors like market conditions and the neighborhood where the house is located.
In 2020, the average house was on the market for just 25 days, with closing averaging an additional 30-45 days.
By comparison, iBuyers and cash buyers can often make an offer in 24 hours or less and close in as little as seven days, but there are some downsides that you should be aware of:
- Cash buyers pay the least amount of money, sometimes as little as 50% of the home's after repair value, minus repair costs.
- iBuyers pay close to fair market value for houses, but they're only available in select markets.
Cash Buyer Companies
Fast — but pays less than fair market value
Fast — but not all homes qualify
Average time to offer
Average closing time
Flexible, in as little as 1.5 weeks
Service fee (5-10%)
Help with negotiations
Connections to real estate investors
Free competitive market analysis
What is the best way to sell a house quickly?
The best way to sell a house quickly depends on your goals and motivations as a seller.
- If you want to net the most possible money, an agent can list your home and market it aggressively in order to find a buyer.
- If you're in a difficult situation such as impending foreclosure, you might not have time to list your house. In this case, it would make sense to work with an iBuyer or cash buyer.
Whatever your situation is, you should speak with a real estate agent.
An agent will be able to provide you with a free comparative market analysis so that you have an idea of what your house is worth. They'll also be able to tell you if it's realistic to sell your house in your desired timeline, based on the current market conditions.
Do real estate agents know how to sell quickly?
Real estate agents can sell houses quickly by using their selling expertise and knowledge of their local real estate market. In fact, 9 out of 10 of home sellers are represented by realtors because they want:
- Help marketing their home to potential buyers
- Help selling their home within a specific time frame
If your real estate agent knows that your goal is to sell quickly, they can adjust their approach by doing things like:
- Pricing competitively — Looking at comparable homes in your neighborhood that have sold recently will help your agent to establish a price point that's attractive to buyers.
- Marketing the home to investors — Some agents have connections with local real estate investors who can buy quickly. By listing the home and also marketing it as an investment opportunity, you get the benefit of introducing competition into the mix. You don't have this advantage when you approach a cash buyer company directly and request an offer from them.
- Advising you on the most important repairs — Agents have a good understanding of what buyers are looking for, and they can give you advice on what repairs might help your house sell faster versus what repairs or upgrades aren't really worth it.
What about market conditions?
Market conditions are one variable that a real estate agent can't control.
In a downturn where there is an excess supply of homes, you might have to make more repairs and upgrades just to make your listing attractive.
Conversely, when there's low inventory, your realtor might advise you not to spend any money on repairs or upgrades since your home will easily sell "as is."
What is the typical home buyer looking for?💰 Ability to finance — 86% of home buyers finance their purchase. This matters because if your home is in really poor condition, it won't qualify for financing.
🏘️ A good neighborhood — 63% of home buyers said that the quality of a neighborhood was their largest deciding factor when looking at homes.
If your house doesn't meet either of these conditions, a large percentage of buyers will automatically be disqualified. In this case, an iBuyer or a cash buyer might be a better option if you need to sell your house fast.
I need to sell my house fast — should I use a cash buyer?
Cash buyers can purchase your house quickly, but there is a cost for this speed. These companies buy distressed properties with the aim of making a profit, so they pay as little as possible.
In some cases, cash buyers pay as little as 50% of a home's estimated after repair value (AVR), minus repair costs. For example, if a cash buyer determined that a home's after repair value was $250,000, but they estimated that they'd need to invest $50,000 in repairs, they might aim to pay just $100,000 for the house (50%).
The speed of cash buyers is hard to match — some companies can make near-instant offers and some can even close in as little as seven days.
If you're in a difficult situation, a quick sale might be exactly what you need, but you'll be leaving a lot of money on the table.
For example, we talked to one home seller who sold her house to We Buy Ugly Houses for $60,000. Because the market conditions were so favorable at the time, the company was able to sell the house two months later for $116,000 with only minimal repairs.
The home seller got the speedy sale that she wanted, but with just a little extra time she could have sold for $56,000 more!
Is selling my house quickly to an iBuyer worth it?
iBuyers can close quickly and pay closer to fair market value than cash buyers. An independent study found that two of the largest iBuyers, Opendoor and Zillow Offers, paid an average of 98.6% of what houses were worth according to an automated valuation model (AVM).
iBuyers make instant cash offers and close in as little as seven days, which means home sellers can benefit from speed while also netting more money than they'd expect from a cash buyer.
The drawbacks of working with an iBuyer include:
- Service fees — iBuyers charge service fees that range from 5% to 10% or more.
- Repair deductions — Upon inspection, an iBuyer will present you with a list of repairs that the home needs and their estimated costs. These costs are deducted from your offer, and they usually can't be negotiated.
Most iBuyers, like Opendoor, can provide you with a free, no obligation offer if you'd like to find out how much they would pay for your home.
If you have multiple iBuyers in your area, it is worth comparing offers.
What if I already signed a listing agreement?
If you've already signed a listing agreement with a real estate agent but aren't satisfied with how quickly offers are coming in, you might still be able to sell to an iBuyer.
For example, Opendoor will still honor your listing agreement and pay your agent's commission if you sell your house to them. However, Zillow Offers leaves home sellers on the hook for the listing agent's commission, so you may end up paying realtor commissions on top of service fees.
You should speak to your listing agent to find out exactly what the terms of your agreement are, and consult the iBuyer you want to sell to in order to find out what they'll cover.
Tips to sell your house quickly
Find a top agent
Most home sellers list their homes with a realtor because they have the expertise, local knowledge, and resources to find a buyer for your home — even on a tight timeline.
The national average selling time was just 25 days in 2020, but Clever partner agents sold faster than the national average — helping home sellers to save money on realtor commissions without giving up speed.
Set a competitive price
The right price is one of the most important factors if you want to sell your house quickly. If a buyer is trying to decide between two houses that have roughly the same features, they're more likely to place an offer on the one that is a little bit cheaper.
If you want to sell fast, you might have to price it slightly lower than comparable listings in the area. This is where your real estate agent's pricing expertise will be helpful. Your agent can even reduce the listing price if you need to sell your house fast, and you aren't receiving offers right away.
It's important to remember that while you should price competitively, pricing too low might not make sense if you're still paying realtor commissions. If you're willing to take a discount, it might make sense to sell directly to an iBuyer or cash buyer.
Make impactful repairs or improvements
If you have room in your budget, simple repairs could help you sell your house fast.
Real estate agents recommend low-cost, high-impact repairs like:
- New carpet
- Interior painting
- Repairs to minor damage (cracked trim, old door knobs, etc.)
Ask your real estate agent to walk through your home and identify any problem areas that can be fixed quickly to make the house more appealing to potential buyers.
If you can't afford to make any repairs before selling, your home might still sell quickly as is if it's in a desirable location or there's a shortage of inventory on the market.
Clean and declutter
Cleaning and decluttering your home will make it easier for prospective buyers to see it as a blank canvas. This is important because you want people to imagine themselves living in your home when they see it.
Furnishings that reflect your personality, or general clutter that makes the house feel crowded, will only mask your home's best features.
List during peak season
Data from Zillow indicates that if you want to sell your home fast, you should list it in the early spring when sales start to speed up. Homes that were sold in May sold for almost 1% more than expected while also selling six days faster than the annual average.
This is good news if the timing is right, but if you need to sell your house fast and it's only November, waiting until spring might not be an option.
Can you sell a home by owner fast?
Since you have to do all of the work yourself when you sell for sale by owner (FSBO), it's unlikely to result in a fast sale.
Trying to sell your home for FSBO could cost you valuable time.
In fact, only 11% of FSBO sellers are successful, and many end up resorting to a real estate agent.
If selling fast is your priority, working with a listing agent who can use their local knowledge to market your property to potential buyers will likely be much faster and easier than a FSBO sale.
Selling on your own might also mean that you make less money in the end.
You might be able to save on realtor commissions, but you won't get the maximum sale price.
The average FSBO home sold for almost $80,000 less than an agent-assisted home sale.
You can create your own listing on Zillow and state in the description that you are only entertaining all-cash offers or that you want a fast closing. However, there's no guarantee that this will work, and your average buyer won't be able to make an all-cash offer.
National Association of Realtors. "2020 Generational Trends Report."
Mike DelPrete. "Do iBuyers Like Opendoor and Zillow Make Fair Market Offers?." Updated November 12, 2019.
Zillow. "Why Mid to Late Spring is The Best Time to List a Home For Sale." Updated February 26, 2020.
National Association of Realtors. "Quick Real Estate Statistics." Updated November 11, 2020.