16 mins read
It’s pretty common for a home seller to want to sell their home quickly. Sometimes moving house is a necessity: for your job, your family, or your financial situation. And, sometimes you just want to sell quickly to avoid the stress of a long drawn out sale.
How long should your property sale take? And, what’s the best way to sell your house fast?
In this article we take a look at the sort of timelines you should expect when you’re selling your home. We also look at some of the best (and worst) ways to speed up your sale.
How fast can I sell my house?
As a general rule selling your home takes between 3 and 6 months.
You can expect to be advertising your property for approximately 4-7 weeks, and then it takes 12-16 weeks to complete all the legal aspects of a home sale. This includes the buyer applying for a mortgage, undertaking surveys and searches, and your conveyancer conducting a range of financial and identity checks.
You’re not going to be able to control how many or how quickly a potential buyer becomes interested in your property, but there’s lots you can do to help.
The first place to start is: advertising. To make sure you beat the average sale time, you need to get as much exposure as possible for your property. The more people see it, the more people are likely to book a viewing, and hopefully make an offer.
As a minimum your property should be up on all the main property advertising channels, including Rightmove, Zoopla, and OnTheMarket - as well as in local newspapers and in the windows of local estate agents.
It’s also important to make sure your adverts are attractive, and targeted at the sort of buyers that are likely to be interested in a property like yours. If you are selling a family-sized home, make sure to mention the good local schools in your property description. If your property is more suited to young professionals, make sure to include details of nearby commuter links. These little details will make you stand out, and encourage a quick sale.
There’s also a whole bunch of things to do after your receive an offer, and this takes a fair amount of time too - particularly if you’re selling a leasehold (more on that here).
On your end, your lawyer will have to negotiate the terms of your sales contract, and undertake a range of checks into the buyer’s identity, and financial position. On the buyer’s side, they’ll have to apply for their mortgage and arrange surveys of your property.
How long these checks take can be down to the efficiency of your lawyer, however some (like searches and mortgage applications) depend on third parties like banks and councils, and take a set amount of time.
When thinking about ways to speed up your sale, focus on the elements you’re able to impact first. Make sure you complete your parts of the process promptly and efficiently. Picking a good, efficient conveyancer, and appointing them early on in your house sale, will also do a lot to speed up the whole process.
For more information on the conveyancing process, and what to expect when you’re selling, check out our guide, here.
Although we can offer advice on the average times it takes to sell a house, in reality it varies massively depending on where you are in the UK, and what type of home you’re trying to sell.
A three-bedroom house in the suburbs of a large city is likely to sell much more quickly than a studio flat in the countryside.
If you want to find out the average time it takes to sell in your local area, check out this tool. You can use it to see the average selling times of properties like yours in your neighbourhood. It’ll also show you which estate agents sell faster than average. Just pop in your postcode here.
How to price your property for a quick house sale
If you’re going to sell your house fast it’s vital you set the right price. The key thing to remember is that properties that look good value for money attract the most interest - and the most offers.
If your house is particularly attractive, buyers will be keen to offer quickly, so they don’t miss out. This can sometimes even lead to a ‘bidding war’ between multiple interested buyers, which drives up the final sale price.
How can you tell if your property looks good value for money?
Figuring out whether you’ve set the right price for your home is always difficult, but there are a few ways things you can do to help you see whether you’re along the right lines:
- Check what else is on the market at the moment
If your property is priced significantly higher or lower than other houses on the market, it’s probably a good idea to re-evaluate.
- Check which other properties in your area have sold recently
This will give you insight into what the true market value of homes in your area is (rather than the price people want their property to sell at).
- Consider your property’s flaws honestly
Is there anything about your house that might put people off? Will damp, or subsidence, mean you need to sell at a lower price? If you’re not sure, ask your estate agent or conveyancer for their advice.
The key thing to remember when you’re deciding on a price, is that you’ve got to look competitive compared to other houses for sale on the market. If you can do this, you’ll be in an excellent position to sell your house fast.
How to stage a house for a quick house sale
It’s common sense that something that looks good attracts more attention. People look more professional if they’re wearing a well-pressed suit than a food stained t-shirt. And, the same goes for homes. If your house is well-presented and tidy it’ll attract more viewers and offers than if it’s messy, and a little rough around the edges.
For a super quick sale, your house not only needs to look good, it needs to look better than the other properties on the market. In the same way that a competitive price attracts interest and offers, excellent presentation can push buyers to put in offers quickly because they don’t want to miss out.
Presentation can also encourage an emotional attachment to your home that can encourage house buyers to offer generously. If a viewer falls in love with the way your property looks, they are more likely to offer straight away, and for the asking price.
This doesn’t mean that your property has to be perfect - but it can be hard to fall in love with a house if there are dishes are stacked up, it smells like pets, or there’s things that obviously need fixing.
This goes for both the advert photographs, and for the in-person viewings.
Photographs of your property will be the first thing potential buyers see, and will be the difference between someone actually booking a viewing, and someone who just scans past your home in the long list of other properties up for sale online.
When you’re having your photos taken, remember, the aim is to make buyers fall in love with your home before they’ve even stepped into it. A little extra effort at this stage will get more buyers interested in your home, and hopefully secure you an offer quicker.
Remember: Your property advert will get most views in the first two weeks that it’s online, so it’s really important to get the photos right first time.
To get your house to sale standard, follow these steps:
As a first step, clear all the surfaces, and put away any ‘clutter’, like laundry, papers, or excess kitchen equipment. Consider donating or storing away until after the photos have been taken.
Although you probably have your furniture arranged in a way that works for you, there may be more flattering arrangements for the photographs. Play with moving furniture around and seeing how it changes the space. Try and make the best use of natural light, and avoid having things like televisions as the main focus of the room.
It goes without saying that a clean house looks more attractive. Before you take your photos give everything a thorough tidy and clean - particularly areas that can quickly look messy, like the bathroom. Avoid having dirty dishes, bins, or laundry in any of the shots.
- Have photos professionally taken
A professional photographer will be able to show your property in the best possible way. They’ll be able to identify and showcase the unique features of your home in a way that amateur photographers find much more difficult to do. Additionally the quality of their equipment will produce images of a much higher standard than you could on a smart phone or basic digital camera.
Professional photography should be included as standard in your estate agency fee, but you will find that some agents (and most online agents) will charge you more for professional quality photography.
If you need to sell your house quickly, it’s really worth spending a little more to go with an agent that knows how to take good photos.
Viewings give potential buyers a chance to get an up close and in-depth view of your property. Remember that buyers are likely to want to explore beyond the surface. They might want to open cupboards, explore attics or cellars, or take a look inside your fridge.
When preparing your house for viewings, you’ll need to think about both the big picture, and the little details. To get your house up to standard follow these steps:
This should be a more intensive version of the declutter you did before the photographs were taken. Think about how much you’ve got stored away, and whether it could be arranged more efficiently, disposed of, or temporarily put somewhere else.
If you have any obvious things that need fixing (a leaking tap, peeling paint, small cracks), take the time to put them right. Easy DIY jobs that are left undone can be a turn off to potential buyers, who begin to wonder what other, larger issues may have been left unsorted.
Like when you had your photos taken, think about the best way to arrange your rooms. Wherever you can, try and make the best use of natural light, and create a sense of space.
The final touch: make sure your property looks it’s best by giving it a really thorough clean before each viewing. If you’re able, consider enlisting the help of a professional cleaner .
Tip: It can be difficult to know which small details might be off-putting to a potential buyer, particularly if you’ve lived there for a long time. Ask a friend, or your estate agent, to walk round with you and point anything they think needs to be sorted before you put your property on the market.
Can I sell my house fast for market value?
What is ‘market value’?
Market value is the amount that a keen buyer will pay for something at the time that you put it on the market. There’s no exact formula for working it out. The market value of something will depend on the economy, which buyers are active, and the local market, at that exact moment in time.
Remember: market value does not mean the amount you previously paid for your home, it means the amount a buyer is willing to pay for your home right now.
However, there are ways you can make sure you sell fast and get the absolute best possible price for your house. For starters, you’ll need a good, local, estate agent.
Not all estate agents were created equal. There are some with incredible track records of quick house sales, whereas others lag behind the rest. Before you pick who to work with, make sure you research the agent’s track record to see whether they know how to sell fast.
This comparison tool can help. It uses data from the Land Registry, and the major property portals, to figure out which agents in your area consistently get the best results. Give it a go now.
Generally, the estate agents that consistently sell houses quickly are the ones that know how to both price competitively, are knowledgable about their local market, and can optimise their advertising to your target buyer.
Will online agents sell my house fast?
The business model followed by most online agents means that they will be unable to get you a quick sale, nor the best price for your home.
Most online estate agents ask that you pay their fee upfront, and an extra charge for ‘add ons’ like photography and hosted viewings. This means they make their money before you sell your home. It’s more important for online agents to get a lot of sellers on the market, than it is to find buyers. The more sellers they find, the more money they earn.
In contrast, high street agents only earn money once a sale is completed. This means they are motivated to sell your home quickly, so they can get paid. And, because commission-based fees tie the amount they get paid to the amount you get on your house sale, these agents are constantly striving to get you the best price. If they can increase your sale price by 5%, their fee increases by the same amount.
Even looking beyond fee structures, online agents aren’t suited to quick sales. Rather than having locally based offices, with a single agent to manage a single sale, online agents operate a call centre system. This means that every time you need to be in touch with the company, you will speak to someone different - someone who may not be up to date with your sale. This can be a time consuming and frustrating process.
Buyers interested in your property will go through this call centre as well, which is much less attractive than the agency option. In numerous reviews we read of one online estate agent, buyers were often left disappointed when they weren’t able to submit or negotiate an offer, because of an agent’s poor communication, or lack of negotiation ability. The agent in question frequently missed an opportunity to build up competition, and potentially secure much higher offers for their sellers.
If your aim is to sell your home quickly, and for the best price, making it as easy as possible for your buyers is absolutely vital.
If you want to read up in more detail about specific online agents, you can read our reviews of Purplebricks, Yopa and Strike here.
Want to know which agent can get you the best outcomes for your house sale? Pop in your postcode here to check out which agents are the top-performers in your area. Try it for free now.
What about a quick sale or cash property buying company?
Property buying companies offer an enticing deal to those home sellers looking for a quick house sale. These ‘sell house fast’ companies claim they can purchase your home, for cash, within 28 days.
However, if you scratch below the surface, this deal isn’t quite as good as it first sounds for two reasons:
- The cash property buying industry isn’t regulated, so it’s home to lots of scammers
The most common scam is the ‘option agreement.’ Many of ‘sell house fast’ companies don’t actually have the cash on hand to purchase your property. These companies will ask you to sign an ‘option agreement’ that ties you into working with them for a long period of time (6-9 months). During this time they try and secure a property investor looking to buy homes at below market value. Rather than a quick cash sale, it can take months to find a buyer - and the option agreement legally prevents you from selling elsewhere.
- Even legitimate cash property buying companies won’t pay full market price for your home
Cash property buyers only usually offer around 75-80% of a property’s market value.
However, a genuine cash property buying company can offer a decent option if you need to sell a ‘difficult’ property quickly.
For example, if your property is unlikely to qualify for mortgage finance (it’s in a state of disrepair, it’s on a short lease, or it’s cladding is not regulation), it can take much longer to find a buyer on the open market. If you need a quick house sale, and are happy to take a price cut for it, a property buying company might be a good option.
Our main advice for those interested in working with a ‘sell house fast’ cash buying company, is to be very thorough in your research.
Be wary of companies that ask you to pay fees, or sign an ‘option agreement’ - they are likely to be scams. And, remember that membership of the National Association of Property Buyers does not guarantee a company is legitimate. This association is not a regulation authority, and their legal powers are limited.
Read more about cash property buying companies, and how to tell the difference between the dodgy and the legitimate on our blog. Head there now.
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