How to Pick a Buyer When You Need to Sell a House Fast

Tips for selling your house fast for the most amount of money and least amount of hassle.

With the uncertainty of today’s economy and the unknown impact coronavirus will have long term, many people face strained financial situations. Whether it’s to tap home equity, downsize, or prepare for a life change, there may come a time when you need to sell your house fast. Thankfully, you have options to help get your home sold quickly and safely.

Selling your home in an ideal economy

Before shelter-in-place and social distancing became the “new normal” there were multiple options when a home owner needed to sell in a hurry. You could find an agent with a proven track record of fast sales, put your home on the market, hold a short sale, or hold an auction. All of these options are viable when potential buyers can easily view a home. However, coronavirus restrictions have led to a more virtual home shopping process. Even if the house is priced correctly, it’s harder to sell your home through a market listing due to limited access.

Restrictive measures on people’s movement and a surge in unemployment are the two factors that could bring home sales down later this year. It’s hopeful that such a dip would only last a short while, but if you need to sell your home fast, price drops are a problem. You may want to consider another option that works regardless of what homebuyers are doing.

Sell your house fast for cash

Always a quick route to complete a transaction, you have the option to sell your home for cash. This works in any economy. It closes deals in a highly competitive real estate market, but also helps anyone who wants a fast sale. Cash sales, also called off-market sales, allow you to forego closing fees and real estate agent percentages. You keep all the money yourself. It’s common to conduct a cash sale with your house “as is,” meaning you don’t have to pay for any repairs or cleaning to complete the sale. There’s no stress from waiting for financing to come through, and things happen quicker, once you get an interested buyer.

Off-market buyers: the fastest way to sell a house

The most solid option when the housing market isn’t doing great is an off-market sale of your home. Not only is it a cash sale, but the time it takes to get an offer is remarkably short.

There are many different types of off-market buyers, ranging from small mom and pop operations to large national companies. In recent years, a variety of iBuyers have also landed on the scene, creating an even faster way to sell a house in some cases.

Remember that each company does things a little differently. Offers that seem too good to be true end up as just that. You may also have to pay a range of different fees, depending on who you work with. Here’s what you should know before selling your home to an off-market buyer.

iBuyer vs. traditional off-market buyer

The ‘i’ in iBuyer stands for instant because of how fast they’re able to make an offer on your home. Most iBuyers quickly assess your home remotely using data and public records. Their business model requires them to calculate the home’s value based on current condition and make you a fast offer. Usually the whole process takes a couple of days. But with most iBuyers, the offer price comes before anyone has seen the house. So you may see significant changes to the original offer after a home inspection.

Not every off-market buyer operates in the same way. More traditional off-market buyers may rely on local market expertise or in-person inspections to come to an offer. At Sundae, for example, our experienced Market Experts will walk sellers through the entire process. After your Market Expert has had a chance to walk through your house and see it live (or via virtual tour), they will help you list your home on Sundae’s marketplace.

Whether it’s through an iBuyer or more traditional type of off-market property investor, you should expect a lower price off market than a market listing. This is typically because off-market offers do not include closing costs, commissions, seller concessions, and other transactional expenses. You’ll need to understand how to calculate net proceeds before you can determine what house selling option results in the highest profits.

Biggest benefits of going off market

Convenience, timelines, and the stress of selling a house are among the important factor to consider when deciding how to sell your house.

  • Speed – The speed of selling your home off market makes it attractive to owners who are in a hurry to sell. Off-market sales happen quicker because you don’t have to fix or remodel the house to make it salable.
  • Less worry, less stress – Not having to coordinate a lengthy remodel can save you a lot of pain. There’s also no staging, cleaning, or showings necessary, which translates to an easier process with fewer upfront costs.
  • Less financial risk – You also won’t face problems with buyer financing or the possibility that an offer falls through due to a buyer not securing a loan.
  • No holding costs – A fast, off-market sale means you won’t pay holding costs (mortgage, utilities, home maintenance) while waiting for the transaction to close.

Red flags

While selling your home off market is appealing for many sellers, it’s important to do your research. There are many off-market buyers out there so you need to verify their authenticity first. Not every homebuyer is the same caliber, and predatory buyers abound. In addition to looking online for customer reviews and business information, talk directly to people you know who have gone this route before. Here are a few red flags to watch out for:

  • No website or social media. If a homebuyer company is just a name and a phone number, walk away. Unless you already know them, it’s difficult to verify they’re a reputable business without an online presence.
  • No customer reviews. If you can’t find any feedback from real customers about a homebuyer, move on to your next choice. Property investors will want to share the experiences of happy customers, so if you can’t find any reviews or success stories, they most likely don’t have any.
  • No business information. If a homebuyer rushes you into making an appointment without telling you who they are, their values, how their business works, and their buying process, consider looking elsewhere. Off-market sales are different than listing your home, and a good homebuyer recognizes that. You want to sell your house to someone you can trust, who takes the time to explain their business.

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Kyle Spearin

Kyle is Sundae's Real Estate Editor. As both an investor and content marketing professional, Kyle combines his passion for real estate investing and educational background with his love of helping others. His experience with real estate tech companies, including contributing to BiggerPockets Pro, gives him insight into markets across the United States.