When it comes to selling a house, many homeowners hope for a quick, easy sale. But sometimes a situation pops up that creates even more urgency — such as a job offer in another state or a family emergency.
If this is where you’re currently finding yourself, there’s something important you should keep in mind: pricing your home to sell quickly doesn’t have to result in a lower offer than you deserve. Read on for eight tactics that will help you secure a fast, fair offer.
1. Start with a home value estimate
Before you put your house on the market and start considering offers, you first need to decide on the correct listing price. Home values have experienced turbulent changes these last few years, with home values in the United States increasing by 19% in 2021. And although that growth is starting to slow, Fannie Mae does expect another 11% jump in 2022.
With growth happening at such a rapid rate, you’ll want to stay up to speed on the latest value estimates for your house.
A good place to start is a free automated valuation model (AVM) tool, such as HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator. By analyzing recent sales transactions, local market trends, and the general condition of your home, you’ll receive a preliminary home value estimate range for your property.
2. Research housing conditions that impact your home’s market value
While an AVM estimate can provide a useful guide when determining your home’s value, there are important local and national trends to consider, as well:
The number of available homes in your area could play a big role in the selling price of your house — especially if you’re determined to move quickly. When inventory levels are low, buyers will face much more competition in the market and will often be prepared to pay more for their next home. We’ve watched this play out recently with some houses going for as much as $100,000 over asking price.
According to Chester Ardolino, a top real estate agent in Springfield, Massachusetts, who sells homes more than 72% quicker than the average Springfield agent, this has led some agents to refer to these last few years as the “name your price market.”
Home price movement
One important indicator of the real estate market is yearly home price gains. If homes are gaining value at a pace above 2%-3% year over year, that’s considered to be a hot market. If you’re seeing that pace start to slow, you’ll want to consider pricing the house more aggressively to sell fast.
The lower the interest rates, the more willing many consumers are to buy a home — and the greater ability they have to make a competitive offer. But when interest rates start to spike, like they are in 2022, the market begins to slow, and offer amounts become more conservative. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing-home sales were down 4.5% year-over-year in March as interest rates climbed two full percentage points in a matter of months.
Looking at the selling prices of similar homes in your neighborhood can be a great way of gauging how to price your home to sell quickly. When looking for comparable properties, referred to as “comps,” make sure you’re comparing apples to apples by looking for homes with similar square footage and upgrades. So if a recently sold home has a newly renovated kitchen and bathroom, and yours doesn’t, it’s safe to assume your house will ultimately sell for less (everything else being equal).
Although seasonality has gone out the window in the last few years, it has historically played an important role in the real estate market. It is likely that this seasonality could return as the real estate market begins to stabilize, with spring and summer once again becoming the “hot” times of year to buy a home.
Between the beginning of a new school year, winter holidays, and less than ideal weather conditions in many markets, fall and winter are traditionally less desirable times to move. If you must sell your house during these months, and you sense the market starting to cool, you’ll want to consider your pricing strategy to ensure you’re appealing to those buyers who are looking.
Check out HomeLight’s Best time to Sell Calculator. This free tool uses housing market data for your area to help determine the best and worst months to sell your home.
Let’s piece together the above points to illustrate how they collectively impact your strategy for pricing your house to sell quickly:
Say you and your agent reviewed data on local market conditions and came to the conclusion that home price gains are chilling, fewer buyers are entering the market due to rising mortgage rates, and with winter coming, there are currently fewer people looking to buy a home.
Based on the comparable homes in your area, you’ve determined the market value for your property is in the $269,000-$290,000 range. Put these clues together and you and your agent would decide to price at the lower end of the price range (such as $270,000) to draw a quick offer.
Another strategy would be to price just below the range determined by reviewing the comps, which brings us to our third tactic (bidding war).
3. Undercut by 5% to 10% and try to spark a bidding war
Although many sellers feel anxious about underpricing their homes, the tactic can sometimes work in the seller’s favor, says Trice Massey, a top-selling agent in Kansas City, Missouri, who works with 82% more single-family homes than the average area agent. Not only can an artificially low price encourage multiple offers, but it can lead to a quick (and profitable) sale.
Ardolino agrees. “I think creating a scenario where buyers are bidding against each other and creating a higher selling price is ideal for the seller.”
Massey suggests sellers set the list price at about 5%-10% below the calculated market value. “When we do this kind of sale, many sellers have a fear that they’re leaving money on the table,” says Massey. “However, they typically get multiple offers.”
When determining this number, make sure to factor in the cost of any needed repairs. For example, if the estimated value of your home is $300,000, but it needs $32,000 in repairs, then $268,000 would be the starting point for your calculation.
$300,000 (house value) – $32,000 (repairs) = $268,000
To create a competitive bid situation, you’d then take up to 10% off of that total to get your list price. In this case, if we went for a full 10% price reduction, we’d be shaving $26,800 off the price. This would bring the final list price to $241,200.
$268,000 x 10% = $26,800 price reduction
4. Price your home for the online search tools
When buyers look at house listings online, they often do so with very specific price range parameters. So, if they know they don’t want to spend more than $300,000 on a new home, then they might only look at homes below that amount. After all, why be tempted by homes that are out of reach?
This is important to keep in mind, as you could be missing out on a lot of potential buyers by pricing your home just above that limit. By sticking to the tried-and-true method of “charm pricing” and using a listing price like $299,999, you’ll likely show up in more search results while also giving the illusion of a lower price.
It’s also important that you don’t get too creative with the listing price, as it draws unnecessary attention to the price and the sellers. This means not pricing your house for something as specific as $321,777, for example.
5. Avoid overpricing at all costs
It can be tempting to price your house at the top of its range, or even a little over market value, in an effort to maximize the amount of money you make on the sale. However, you’ll likely be doing so at the expense of the competitive bid situation we outlined above — and you could end up jeopardizing your chances of a quick sale.
Remember: the more days your house sits on the market, the more ammo a buyer has to make lowball offers. Plus, you’ll be waiting longer before you can wrap up the sale of your home and move on to the next chapter of your life.
If you need to sell a house quickly, it pays to keep the price measured. “If you’re priced below market value, you should be getting offers within hours,” Massey says. This is especially common in a seller’s market.
6. Consider marketing before a price reduction
Ardolino says they try to stay away from price reductions whenever possible — even in the toughest markets. Instead, his team starts with the home’s marketing strategy.
As an example, Ardolino describes a time when he was representing a seller and the property went stale — it had been on the market for 36 days with no viable offers. Knowing there were a lot of people looking to move from the Southern Atlantic Coast to the Northeast, his team invested resources into marketing the property in that region — and ultimately found a seller. “We ended up finding a cash buyer who was relocating from Virginia,” he says. “He purchased the home nearly a week later.”
Ardolino also recognizes that this strategy doesn’t always work, and that sometimes a price reduction is necessary — especially when the seller is looking to offload the property quickly. “Once we’ve made a few attempts at redirecting the marketing, then at that point we’d want to go down about 3% on the list price.”
Massey does warn against using a price reduction in advertising (for example: “Priced to sell!” or “Was $900,000, now $825,000!”). Calling attention to the price cut in this way can scare away potential buyers.
“This is a no-no,” says Massey. “People will think there’s something wrong with your house.”
Another strategy to consider is reaching out to potential buyers that viewed the house and seemed interested but did not make an offer. Let them know there may be a price cut coming and see if they would like to make an offer before you adjust the price. Once the price has been lowered, listing websites will send out alerts to potential buyers, which may pique interest, too.
7. What would a cash buyer pay?
If your primary goal is a quick sale, you can’t go wrong with cash.
Rather than waiting up to 45 days for a loan to process, a cash transaction can often process within weeks. These sales don’t require an appraisal, though in most cases, cash buyers will still require a standard home inspection.
Although many direct buyers will offer a discounted price as part of their negotiations, the increase in cash sales over the last few years means that it’s now possible to get a fast, cash deal without sacrificing price.
“We’re seeing a lot of cash buyers from traditional buyers who are either downsizing or relocating,” Ardolino says.
In addition, Ardolino and his team take advantage of social media and investor groups that are constantly on the lookout for properties they can purchase for cash.
Another option for a quick, no-obligation cash offer is HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform. With a large network of pre-approved cash buyers and investors, Simple Sale allows you to compare multiple offers on your home without any listings or showings. If you receive an offer you like, you can close in as few as 10 days.
8. Partner with a top agent who can keep the process moving
An experienced real estate agent is perhaps one of the most valuable tools you can have at your disposal when selling your home — especially when it comes to pricing your home to sell fast.
In addition to providing advice on property valuations and guiding the marketing strategy for your home, an experienced agent will streamline the closing process to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
For example, Ardolino and his team will get to work on creating a purchase and sale agreement immediately after his seller client accepts an offer. “Getting that purchase and sale out quickly is the most important part of keeping timelines tight,” he says.
Similarly, Massey maintains a staff and works with a title company to handle all clerical aspects of the transaction so she can focus on selling, negotiating, and representing the interests of her client. Having done this many times before, her staff is ready with the title work ahead of time.
If you need a top real estate agent to help you sell your home quickly, HomeLight’s Agent Match can help. Our free Agent Match tool analyzes over 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to find an agent who is well equipped to help you meet your real estate goals.
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