10 Options if You Can’t Sell Your House Fast

The world of real estate is not known for its predictability. Market watchers will always try and forecast trends, and they sometimes end up being right.

But the worst thing you can do when deciding to sell your house is getting your hopes up that the process will be quick, clean, and predictable.

The reality is, home sales are often messy and chaotic processes involving constantly changing variables and temperamental market forces. But you must take steps to get your house off the market if it’s been lingering too long. 

From considering alternative methods like short selling and leasing to sweeten the deal with something like a title owner’s insurance policy, here are the ten best ways to get your house off the market fast!

1. Sweeten the Deal

The fundamentals are essential for a house’s appeal on the market. The foundation’s integrity, the floor plan’s flow, and the location are all top of mind concerns for potential home buyers. So they need to be your concerns, too, as a seller. 

But don’t neglect the small things. You can sweeten the deal in several ways. Stressing about how to move that new sofa or flat screen TV? See how potential buyers react if you say you’re going to leave it for them at no additional cost. 

On the subject of cost, you can also work out a deal with your realtor or directly with your buyers to alleviate some of the burdens of their closing costs. Closing costs rack up quickly and steeply. They can cause cold feet that make deals fall through last minute. You can clad your arrangements with iron if you find engaging ways to sweeten the deal.

If it feels like you’re cutting corners or playing fast and loose with ethics, don’t. It’s estimated that about 37% of all sellers include incentives in their final offers. 

Put yourself in the perspective of a married couple of first-time home buyers. Furnishing and decoration are the last things on their mind. If you include items like these in the deal, it might come as such a weight off their shoulders that they practically sign the papers on the spot.

2. Check if the Price is Too High (or Too Low)

According to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors, home sales have been steadily rising since 2017 and show no signs of stopping. It’s a seller’s market, so go forth and be bold with the price you settle on to list.

But don’t be surprised if you don’t get an instant flock of serious buyers. One of the most common causes of houses stagnating on the market is pricing. Potential buyers, even serious ones who are ready to sign and move in immediately, may be dissuaded from a home if the price seems too high.

The economy is working great for homeowners now. But the situation for aspiring, not-yet homeowners is not as hopeful. Debt, swings in the economy, and volatility in the labor market all contribute to a reticence on the part of buyers.

Don’t just beware of overpricing, either. Underpricing to get the house off the market quickly can have the ironic, contradictory effect of sowing suspicion and misgiving into potential buyers who think the listing might be “too good to be true.”

3. Update the Exterior Look

Curb appeal is of the utmost importance for selling a house. You spend about 95% of your time at home in your house, so why should it matter so much?

The exterior look of the home, or its “curb appeal,” matters because it’s the first thing a buyer sees when they visit the house. We know how important first impressions are on first dates and job interviews. Buying a home is as much of a commitment as those “firsts,” if not more. Treat it with that amount of seriousness.

Curb appeal isn’t just about whether your home is clean, tidy, and well-groomed on the outside. It’s a concept that encompasses several things: 

  • Paint color
  • The amount of foliage and how it’s kept
  • Landscaping, including the grading and maintenance of lawns
  • Lighting design
  • Siding, gutters, and drainage
  • The condition of your roof
  • The all-important front door
  • The state of your driveway and the material it’s made from
  • Additional features like porches and pools

A recent study showed that 76% of people agreed that improving curb appeal is the #1 thing a homeowner can do to boost the marketability of their home. 

If your home is stagnating on the market, think about what you’ve been doing to sweeten the deal. Have all your fixes focused on the inside? It’s time to give the exteriors a little tender love and care.

4. Re-conceptualize Your Staging

From the outside to the inside – if your exteriors are clean, clipped, and optimized to the fullest extent, and you’re still not selling that home, think about re-staging the interiors.

It may not be the case that there’s anything wrong with the home’s interiors. You may just not be appealing to the right kind of buyer. Some of the biggest mistakes when staging a home interior for photos and walkthroughs are: 

  • Too much furniture crowding the room
  • Stale, unpleasant smells like cigarette smoke, or even an excess of cleaning product stench
  • Keepsakes and knickknacks on display that are too personal – buyers need to imagine themselves living in the home, not you
  • A lack of light
  • Seasonal decorations or out of date furniture
  • A drab, unexciting entryway. Make the first impression count.
  • Forgetting to stage every room

Hiring a professional stager is worth the investment. Stagers can come into the home and bring furniture and decorative objects specifically designed to appeal to high-income buyers. 

The point is not to give potential buyers a sense of what it was like to live in your house. It’s about giving them a sense of what it could be like for them.

5. Take It Off the Market

The real estate market is fundamentally volatile. You might be prepping your home to showcase it on a market that isn’t ready to sell it. Or at least to sell it for what it’s worth. Little bumps and hiccups in local market values shouldn’t scare you. Prices will always rebound, so you need to learn how to exercise patience.

There is quantifiable data on the best and worst times to sell a house. These times shift around depending on where in the country you’re selling, as a lot of desirability and the willingness to buy has to do with the weather. 

Winter is generally the wrong time to sell, as people are less likely to travel, and in some parts of the country, more reluctant to get on the roads. 

However, in a region like the Pacific Northwest, the best time to sell is fall between September and November. The air is cooling and getting crisp; the leaves turn beautiful shades of red, brown, and gold. A possibility is in the air, and young couples are ready to find their forever homes. 

The takeaway is that you need to have patience with the market. Be ready to pull your listing and sit on it for one, two, even up to three months. It might mean the difference between getting offers way under your asking price and getting offers way over it.

6. Consider a Short Sell

Looking to sell your house but still owe too much for that to seem possible? There are options for you, but you should understand them before considering them.

A short sale is when a homeowner who owes more on their home than its worth goes into a sale rather than foreclosure. How it works is that the lender of the original mortgage becomes the recipient of all the sale proceeds and can then forgive the difference or get what’s called a deficiency judgment. A deficiency judgment requires that the original borrower pay off the remaining balance in a set period. 

Not all lenders are open to the possibility of short sales. And it may not advantage homeowners either. Patience may come in handy again here, as it can be advisable to simply wait a while, make your home payments, and sell when the difference between what you owe and what your property is worth is in a better state.

But if foreclosure is unavoidable, a short sale is a good option. Keep in mind that short sales do affect your credit score. You’ll be out of a tricky situation and into another one, but if you’re not looking to own again after your sale, you can take the credit hit and recuperate in peace.

7. Press Pause on the Renovations To-Do List

There’s a common myth that all new homeowners are desperate to renovate and remodel the second they get inside their new homes. Whether this myth keeps getting perpetrated by popular home makeover shows, or the contractors themselves who stand to benefit, the fact of the matter is it’s not always true. 

If you’ve bought a home before, think back to that process. You were packing up your entire life, having strangers come in and out of your personal space, being temporarily homeless as you search for a new perfect place, all the hurdles you have to clear to get into a new home. 

The process is exhausting. Not everyone will have the energy or desire to undertake costly, immediately time-consuming renovations the second they move in. 

A lot of time renovations result in occupants renting a home or staying in a motel. New buyers aren’t likely to want to uproot themselves right after they’ve already taken pains to move. After all, buying a home is a substantial financial investment for the buyer and the seller. 

If you don’t need to bother with tearing down walls, laying new floors, and re-landscaping, don’t. Renovations and remodels are expensive projects. Focus on saving for your next move, not overly sweetening the deal for your eventual buyers. 

8. Make Sure Your Marketing Plan is Effective

If you’re pursuing a traditional sale through a realtor, you may not be privy to all the details of their marketing plan. But you should be.

Whether you’ve contracted with a realtor or not, you need a robust and multidirectional marketing plan to get your house off the market fast. 

The best thing you can do first is take professionally staged photos. Quality staging is a marketing asset that shows off your home and its amenities. Whatever words are going into your listing, while important, aren’t nearly as crucial as those images. They’re what the buyer will see first and remember longest. 

Take advantage of technology when creating a marketing plan for your sale. Utilize video technology to create a 360 tour. Let potential buyers really walk through the home, rather than just stare at static images of it. 

An essential aspect of any marketing plan is what you do with your promotional photos, videos, and text. Go beyond the traditional MLS listing sites like Zillow and Redfin. Advertise on socials like Instagram and Facebook. Reach a larger audience, and you may get in touch with buyers you had never considered before. 

One last helpful marketing tactic is using just listed postcards. Tap into the same MLS database of potential buyers and send out postcards advertising your sale. 

9. Take Out a Second Mortgage

People often take out second mortgages on their homes to pay for things like renovations or their children’s college educations. But you may want to consider taking out a second home equity loan to speed up the sale process. 

Make sure you’re able to pay a higher monthly payment while you have two loans out before you borrow, of course. But you can renegotiate your loan payment plan with your original lender. Or, you can convert your adjustable-rate mortgage into a fixed-rate mortgage to get a lower interest rate. 

Once you have that loan, you can use it to fund anything from your next home purchase to other real estate investments. 

Negotiating a home sale with a second mortgage can be tricky. Often you’ll be expected to have both mortgages due at the time of purchase. If, for any reason, the sale price fails to satisfy the remaining balance of both loans, you’ll be expected to cover it out of pocket. You can work out a plan with your lender to pay this balance.

When you tap into your home’s existing equity, you offer your home as collateral. That means your lender can take back your house if you cease payments. So make sure you can cover your bases before you borrow a second time. 

10. Offer a Lease to Own Option

One reason your house might be stagnating on the market is that buyers are afraid to commit. Every condition may be perfectly lined up, from their line of credit to your corresponding move-in/move-out dates. But there still might be things impeding potential buyers from fully signing on to a sale.

You can take an intermediate step to court more hesitant buyers. Offering a lease-to-own option allows potential buyers to rent, in a sense, “try out” the house with the opportunity to buy at the end of the lease term. 

Lease to own is an excellent option if you have difficulty finding qualified buyers. This way, you can collect rent in addition to a lease option fee from your tenants while allowing them time to save up money for a down payment. If their credit isn’t in line, making regular payments can help build a solid credit score to more efficiently make the sale go through. 

You run the risk of indefinitely prolonging the sale if your renters choose not to buy at the end of the lease period. But it’s not a total loss–you’ll be collecting regular payments each month. 

Closing the Deal

Selling your house is rarely easy. It takes time, money, and, more than anything else, patience. But with the right team around you and a positive mindset, selling your house can be as easy as taking a walk. 

If your house isn’t selling fast, it might take something as extensive as re-conceptualizing your whole marketing approach. But it might be as simple as re-staging and reshooting interior photography. When it comes to real estate, it’s all about persistence. Breaking through to the perfect buyer takes time, and it also takes a particular strategy.

Keep your head in a seller’s mindset so that you can finally pack up and move on to greener pastures.

If you’re having difficulty selling your home, reach out to Kind House Buyers for help today. Work with us, and we’ll take your house off your hands in just a week!

Learn more now.

Keith Sant

Keith is a blogger, entrepreneur, and real estate investor who truly enjoys helping others. He grew up in Washington where he graduated from UW with degrees in Marketing and economics. Besides flipping houses, Keith enjoys snacks, cycling, and hiking the Pacific Northwest with his fiancee Amanda and their boxer Tuna.

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