How to Sell Your Home in 21 Days (or LESS)
How would you like to sell your home in less than a month?
It might sound too good to be true, but it’s not.
In all actuality, it’s to your advantage to sell your home as fast as possible. The reason is that your chances of getting lower offers from buyers increase the longer the home remains on the market.
If you follow these steps and put your house on the market correctly, you may surprise yourself when you see how quickly it sells.
Let’s get started with some of the best ways to make your house stand out from the competition and market it so it sells in 21 days or less!
Decide Between 3 Home Selling Options
The first step toward a fast sale is deciding between one of three ways to sell your home. These include requesting a cash offer, hiring an expert realtor to help you, or going the For Sale by Owner route. Let’s look at each of these three options in more detail.
Request a Cash Offer (Fastest)
If you want to sell your house as quickly as possible, an all cash offer is generally the best way to go. Cash deals will typically close within a shorter period of time than any offer requiring financing with a banking institution.
Cash offers are typically made by investors or buyers looking for houses that need some sort of repair work. You can expect this type of buyer to know what they’re doing and to come in prepared with all the necessary documents to get the deal done.
There are three ways to work on getting a cash offer.
- Use one of the “we buy houses” companies
- Calling on local investors
- Using iBuyers
We Buy Houses Companies
There are many “we buy houses” companies that specialize in purchasing homes. They offer a good way to get your cash in fast and the transaction usually takes less than 30 days to complete.
These types of deals can close quickly because they don’t need to go through all the time and paperwork associated with traditional home sales or even bank-owned properties.
One thing to keep in mind is that the “we buy houses” company will need three things.
- The title of ownership (deed)
- Proof of occupancy, such as utility bills
- A clean inspection report from a home inspector
Another way to sell your house quickly is by using local investors. These types of deals take a bit more time than those done through “we buy houses” companies. It might be worth it if you have the ability and willingness to fix up your home first.
A local investor will typically send out an inspector to look at various issues. They might include the following.
- Structural issues
- Electrical and plumbing problems
- Whether or not the house is habitable
- Roof issues
- Mold or mildew
- HVAC and appliances
If the house passes inspection, a price is agreed upon. You then set up a closing date and go from there. If you’re selling your home to end a foreclosure or short sale situation, this type of deal might not be for you because investors want homes in good condition first.
The investor will then usually make you an offer on your home contingent on repairs. Doing it this way could turn into a win-win situation because it’s possible your property needs work anyway.
Keep in mind that it might take longer to get the deal done if several repair issues show up on the investor’s report.
iBuyers are real estate companies that allow you to sell your house for cash without hiring a full-time realtor. An option like this can end up as a more expensive option than using “we buy houses” companies or local investors.
However, it’s a more convenient path to take. It might save you money in the long run if your home needs work and the iBuyer agrees to buy it “as is”.
The first step is to get a market analysis of your home. It’s a process where the iBuyer will send an inspector out and give you a detailed report outlining what needs to get repaired or replaced.
Again, they may decide to simply buy the home in its current condition. Don’t count on this, though. You’ll most likely need to negotiate the repairs into the deal by getting them done ahead of time. Or, your negotiations may result in a need to discount your price if the repairs won’t get done before the sale.
If you’re willing and able, then using an iBuyer can save effort, time, and money.
Hire a Realtor that Can Sell Fast
If your home doesn’t need major repairs, you can sell it quickly by hiring a realtor who specializes in selling homes fast. An option like this will give you the ability to get the most money for your property. An experienced real estate agent will market and show the home aggressively until they find someone to buy it.
However, this route is not for everyone. Your home will need to be in good shape and show well, which means you may need to invest some money into making it attractive to buyers before selling it.
The positive aspect of using a quality realtor is that you have someone by your side to guide you along the way. A real estate agent can advise you about which repairs you should make and which repairs you can avoid worrying about.
Your realtor will also have the experience to guide you into pricing the home correctly from the start. Remember that this person knows your area inside and out. They’ve sold homes in your town or city and can offer a wealth of advice as you move through the selling process.
If you’re not sure you have what it takes to negotiate well with buyers, then that’s another reason to consider this route. An experienced real estate agent might come with superior negotiation skills when compared to how much you know about closing a deal.
For Sale by Owner Done the Right Way
You can go the For Sale by Owner (FSBO) route if you know someone interested in buying your home. It’s typically cheaper than hiring a realtor because you won’t pay any commissions or fees.
You’ll need to show your home so that buyers can see what they’re getting before making an offer and negotiating with you over price. The process could also mean going through several showings, which is time-consuming and frustrating for many people.
While you can avoid paying a listing agent fee, keep in mind that you may end up selling the home for less than if you had used an experienced realtor. Do you have superior negotiation skills? If so, you might have the confidence to overcome the issue and successfully negotiate a higher selling number.
Flat Fee MLS
One way to lower your fees when selling through the FSBO route is to use a flat fee MLS company. It’s an option that allows you to list your home on the MLS for a flat fee, which is usually much less than what listing through an agent would cost.
Essentially, this route helps you lower any fees charged when you list your FSBO property through a realtor. Not only do you gain the set fee advantage, but you can now list your property throughout all the listings that a real estate broker gives you access to.
Execute Your Home Selling Plan
It’s extremely difficult to sell a home quickly if you go into the process without a solid plan in place. You should find that you end up saving time in the long run if you list out a precise step-by-step plan for your process.
Choosing the Correct Listing Price is Critical
You need to think through how to price your home properly as you look to attract buyers ready to purchase relatively quickly. You can save yourself time by pricing your home at a price that’s appealing to the majority of buyers. Avoid being too aggressive with this decision, though.
Use a comparative market analysis to guide you. It’s a market analysis that will show you how much homes in your neighborhood typically sell for. Using a market analysis like this will give you a good idea of what kind of price range to list in. As well, take time to look at competitor home listings to better gauge your listing price.
You’ll need to make sure you’re not pricing your home too low or too high because doing either could cost you money in the long run. If it’s priced too low, buyers may think there’s something wrong with it and pass on purchasing it. If it’s priced above market value, they might not make an offer at all because they don’t want to spend the money.
It’s best to price within the average range of prices for homes in your area when your goal is obtaining a quick sale. Doing so will attract more potential buyers and increase the number of offers coming in on your property.
Aggressively Clean Top to Bottom
It’s now time to get the house in shape so you can confidently bring buyers in to look at it. A deep clean is necessary to make the house look presentable and move-in ready.
You need to think about how much time you have before buyers will walk through your home. Set yourself a timetable for when you’ll finish off cleaning each room. Get started as soon as possible so you don’t end up in an overly stressful situation.
Do a Deep Clean in the Kitchen
You should start with the kitchen because it’s one of the most popular rooms that people like to see in a home. It must look clean and free from any clutter. Get started by putting everything away neatly.
Make sure all appliances remain spotless for your potential buyers to view. It’s especially important to get all accumulated food or grease particles off ovens and microwaves, for example. Make the counters and floor shine. Clean any glass cabinets and keep the sink free from dirty dishes.
Make the Bathrooms Sparkle
Perform a deep cleaning in all bathrooms. Make sure to polish any tiles, detail all of the grout lines, and wash out any bathtubs. Use disinfectant sprays or cleaners like bleach on toilets because they can quickly build up grime that buyers don’t want to see. Make sure you make the mirrors and windows shine like new.
Get Rid of Bad Smells (Pets, Smoke, etc.)
You need to take care of any bad smells that might linger in your home. Buyers will remember these unpleasant odors. They’re likely going to pull any offers if something doesn’t smell right in your home. Get rid of any pet smells, smoke odors, or cooking scents.
Declutter and Depersonalize
A big mistake many people make when selling a home is keeping their personal items visible. It’s a mistake because you need to help buyers visualize what it will look like for them to live in the home.
You need to make sure that everything is out of sight. Especially important in this area are family photos. You’ll turn many buyers away who can’t see themselves living in your home after they see your personal pictures on the refrigerator.
You should also look at getting rid of anything that ties you to the home, such as your kids’ drawings and school assignments. You might feel a little strange removing all the personal items around your home. The key to this is that you need to help buyers imagine what their pictures and kids’ pictures will look like in the space.
You’re moving anyway, right? Start packing this stuff up now and present your home in a way that helps buyers get excited about creating their own memories there.
On the same note, you should keep any pets away from the home when buyers come in to see it. You don’t want potential buyers leaving the property with the thought of your cat or dog in their minds. They should imagine their own pets running through the home.
Get Rid of Non-Essentials Throughout
Eliminate anything that isn’t essential to helping a buyer make the decision to purchase your home. This includes games, books, and DVDs. Anything that’s not directly related to the house itself must go.
Additionally, you should get rid of anything that’s broken or damaged. If you can’t get it repaired, then you need to throw away the pieces. It’s only going to make people think about repairs, as opposed to the positive aspects of the home. You could cause some buyers to lose interest quickly by leaving non-essentials laying around your house.
Clear Out Storage
The last thing you want buyers to see is lots of boxes or containers cluttered around in an unorganized way. Make sure everything is neat, clean, and organized in closets and other storage areas so buyers can gain a better sense of the space your home offers.
Organize and Contain Kids’ Toys
Kids’ toys are something else that’s often overlooked when you’re getting ready to sell your house. It might seem like they make the place more homely. However, these items can quickly become a distraction for buyers. You need to get rid of them or put them away in closets where people won’t see them.
That means you should keep kids’ toys and games out of view once buyers come through your front door. If buyers see a ton of toys all over the place, then it’s going to put doubts in their minds about whether or not they manage the home with a family.
Make Quick Value-Added Repairs
Don’t forget to do any immediate repairs before showing the home. You need to make it as easy as possible for buyers to picture themselves living in your house. If there’s something broken, get it fixed right away and avoid rushing around at the last minute.
It might seem like more effort, but this is where thinking about your return on investment comes into play. Doing quick value-added repairs and making sure you’re not leaving anything to chance is going to give buyers the best possible impression of your house. Ultimately, seeing a lack of needed repairs can get them thinking about putting in an offer.
When people walk out the door after having seen your home for sale, you want them to remember at least two things. First of all, it’s important that they’re impressed with the space. Secondly, you need their mouths watering about what kind of return on investment this property will give them.
Here are four main repair areas to focus on:
- Power-wash the exterior
- Paint the front door
- Steam clean carpets
- Paint interior walls, doors, and trim
Power-Wash the Exterior
Power-washing a house is standard practice before a sale. It gives the buyer a chance to truly see what’s going on with the exterior.
If your home looks dingy and dirty, then people are less likely to want to put in an offer. Even if it has great bones underneath that dirt or rust, most people can’t see beyond it. It also makes sense from another point of view. If the house doesn’t look clean, buyers will probably assume that you haven’t taken care of it properly.
Paint Front Door
The front door is something else you’ll need to paint before putting the house on the market. A freshly painted front door is like an advertisement for the rest of your house. It says you’re putting in the care and effort to make the home look its best.
Consider a bright, attractive color and don’t be afraid to go for a bolder look here. A bright red or yellow front door is going to stand out and make people notice your house. It’s what most buyers are looking for!
Steam Clean Carpets
Carpet cleaning might not seem like the first thing you need to worry about when putting your home on the market. It’s actually something you should prioritize. Carpets are the hardest things to get clean. It will make a huge difference in making your home look fresh and new for buyers when they walk on freshly cleaned floors.
Paint Interior Walls, Doors, and Trim
Lastly, interior painting is another thing that often gets overlooked when people start to think about selling their homes. If you don’t paint the interior, then it’s going to look dated and old. That means buyers aren’t likely to want anything to do with it.
Pay attention to the following factors when painting the interior walls, doors, and trim.
- Use neutral colors
- Don’t be afraid to go for bolder shades in the right areas (for example, if you have a room that needs an accented wall, then paint it)
- Use different shades of the same color to make rooms look larger
- Avoid painting over wallpaper
Maximize Curb Appeal
The next big step to take during your preparations is improving the home’s curb appeal. Curb appeal involves making a house look as attractive from the outside so buyers become more excited about coming inside.
You can improve curb appeal by following these tips.
- Make sure your lawn is mowed and weed free
- Trim bushes, hedges, and trees
- Plant some flowers or other plants in the front to give the house a pop of color
- Make sure that your exterior paint is clean and attractive
- Add some potted plants or flowers near the front door for a finishing touch
When mowing the lawn, make sure to cut it as short as you can. Start watering it extensively if you’ve allowed brown spots to appear. Watering a lawn well for three to five days in a row can work wonders to bring back more green color. Look for excessive weeds and cut them down immediately. No one wants to walk up to a house and see a lawn overgrown with weeds.
When trimming back shrubs or other plants on the exterior of your home, remain careful not to cut back too far. If you’re trimming bushes, just cut them down to size. Don’t worry about removing any flowers or other plant life that might grow on it.
Planting some flowers or other plants in the front is an easy way to add some extra style for buyers. It makes your home look fresh and new. For example, you can place some flowers in pots and place them beside the front door or along the walkway. Doing this works to make your home look more inviting.
If you’re going to sell a house, then there’s no better time than now to give the exterior paint an update. A fresh exterior paint job is a great way to make your house look new and give it a more modern feel.
Here are additional ways to improve your home’s curb appeal.
Make sure that your windows are spotless. People notice when windows include dirt and grime on them. Clean any visible leaves out of the gutters.
Add lighting to make your home visible and beautiful at night. You can place lighting in a front yard tree and point it down on the walkway to provide a nice view of the lawn. Repair any damage to the roof, siding, and other exterior parts of your house. Paint the garage door a bold color to make your home stand out from all the other houses on the block.
Consider what type of impression your home gives potential buyers the moment they drive up and park in front of it. You want to make sure that the first impression is a positive one.
Stage Your Home to Sell
Failing to stage a home is one of the biggest mistakes that many people make when selling their homes. Staging simply means preparing the house to make it as appealing as possible for potential buyers.
Here are some ideas to help you present the interior of your home correctly.
- Remove bulky window coverings and let natural light in
- Bright lights everywhere
- Replace wall pictures with mirrors
- Get rid of non-essential bulky furniture
Remove Bulky Window Coverings and Let Natural Light in
If you’re going to stage a room, there’s nothing better than letting in natural light. If your curtains or blinds are too thick and blocking out the sunlight, replace them with thinner ones that let more of it through.
The result of this is that your room will appear brighter and feel more open than it would with the dark curtains or blinds. You can’t let potential buyers think the lighting is dark and dingy because they won’t want to make an offer.
Bright Lights Everywhere
Another way to make your rooms look larger is by using bright lighting. It helps buyers to see everything clearly without straining their eyesight. If you don’t have enough light, add some additional lamps. Including a lot of lights in your staging will make the entire home look more attractive.
Replace Wall Pictures with Mirrors
If you have any pictures on the walls, take them down and replace them with mirrors instead. It’s an easy way to make a room appear larger because the reflection of light bounces back into the empty space.
Get Rid of Non-Essential Bulky Furniture
If you have bulky pieces of furniture, remove them to create more open space. You can also replace some with lighter alternatives. It’s a way to make it easier for buyers to move around furniture if they want to look at something in more detail. Replacing these items will give the impression that there’s plenty of space for a buyer’s furniture.
Hire a Professional Real Estate Photographer
You’re going to need to present your home properly online once you’re ready to start showing it. It’s a mistake to take your own pictures and expect your home to stand out from other online listings.
Instead, hire a professional real estate photographer so you end up with images that show your home in the most positive light possible.
When you hire a real estate photographer, you’ll get the following benefits.
- Pictures of your home from angles and in lighting conditions that highlight its best features
- Professional images for your listing website, other websites you might use to attract potential buyers, and any social media sites you’re on
- A photographer who knows how to shoot real estate with the right amount of natural light and indoor lighting
- Pictures that don’t make it look like your home is in a different location (i.e., no green grass or open spaces) than where you’re actually selling it
Hiring a professional photographer can mean all the difference when it comes to selling your home. Avoid any temptation to scrimp in this area or overestimate your ability to take winning pictures.
Write a Listing Description that Generates Interest
You also need to write a listing description that presents your home in the best manner. Strive to create an inviting and warm listing that describes all the best features of the home.
Instead of listing items that the multiple listing service will reveal, such as square footage, highlight the areas of your home that people care most about. You might include the size of the kitchen, living area, or bedrooms.
It’s also important to note why you love your home in order to make others feel that same passion when they see it online or walk through the door for a showing. If listing pictures are worth one thousand words, how much more valuable is a description written by someone who loves their house?
Additionally, talk about nearby amenities and attractions that make the home even more desirable. For instance, you might mention that there’s an amazing restaurant that overlooks the lake two blocks away or describe transportation options in the area.
Utilize Social Media
Don’t forget to utilize social media when selling your home. You can generate additional interest on top of the other areas where you’ve listed the sale.
You should consider using Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram when marketing your house.
Facebook Personal Feed and Local Groups
Use your Facebook personal feed to share photos of your home, talk about why you love it, and encourage other people to visit. You can also post pictures on the Facebook page for the town or city where you’re selling the house.
Leverage local Facebook groups online by sharing the listing there. For instance, you might join one that hosts monthly open houses in your area. Or, you can share it with people who live in the neighborhood where your home is for sale.
Utilize Twitter to talk about why you’re selling your house, when possible buyers can see it (i.e., “Open House from Noon to Three on Saturday”), and talk about amazing features from the property. You can also share your listing with local groups that use Twitter, such as neighborhood associations.
You should consider using Instagram for marketing since it offers a great way to showcase the beauty of your home’s interior and exterior spaces. Instagram is all about posting amazing images. Use your account to post pictures of rooms, exteriors, and the yard.
For instance, you might share a picture on Instagram where you tag your home’s location. Or, post pictures from an open house. You also have the option to use hashtags for keywords so people looking for real estate in that area can find it easier.
The important thing to remember is that you can reach more potential buyers if you’re willing to use several different ways to market your home.
Generally speaking, you should use hashtags like #SellingMyHome or #HousesForSale when using social media. You can also use hashtags for specific neighborhoods or cities that your home is in, such as #BedStuy (for Brooklyn, New York) and #AvondaleEstatesGA (for the city of Avondale Estates).
Don’t forget to link back to your listing website so people can see your home directly.
Host a Few Open Houses the Very First Week
You need to generate interest in your home as soon as possible when your goal is selling within 21 days or less. You can kickstart the process well by hosting several open houses within the first week of putting the home on the market. It’s a great way to introduce your home to potential buyers and showcase its best features.
You should consider hosting open houses on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday during the day when more people will likely come in for the tour. It gives you three separate chances to catch as many buyers as possible. It’s unlikely that all potential buyers will come out on the same day.
You should also consider hosting an after-hours open house on one of those days. Doing so will help you reach people working during the daytime or who have other obligations that stop them from being available at traditional times. You might host this type of event between five and seven in the evening, for instance.
You should consider providing refreshments and snacks as a way to encourage people to stay for a while.
Don’t forget that you can do other things like host online open houses or attend neighborhood gatherings. These activities make it more likely that many people can learn about your listing. In addition, it’s good to consider giving away candy bars or other fun items to people who come out for the open houses.
These steps can help you get more buyers interested in your home right now, which is the ultimate goal if you want to sell within 21 days. You’ll likely gain the ability to close on this timeframe if you become hyper-focused on using these efforts to generate interest.
You might also consider putting up a sign outside of your home that announces when these open houses will take place. You never know who your neighbors know or who might see the sign while driving by.
Be Sure to Accommodate ALL Buyer Showing Requests
You should also consider that many buyers will request to see the house when it’s most convenient for them. Remain willing to meet these requests so you give yourself as many opportunities to sell the home quickly.
For this reason, you need to have a plan to keep your home in the best condition for showings. For example, you might need to have all of your laundry done, dishes washed, and any messes cleaned up on an ongoing basis. You may want to recruit a family member or friend who’s willing to help you with these activities while the home is on the market.
Your goal is to keep the home straightened up at all times so you never feel bad letting someone in for a showing at a moment’s notice.
Even though you want to show the home at any time, it’s also important to keep people from showing up unannounced. Set a specific appointment so you can make sure the garbage cans aren’t on the street during the day or the exterior lighting is on for nighttime showings.
Negotiate Offers, Hopefully You Get Multiple
The goal is to get a few offers in as quickly as possible so you can negotiate the best deal. Here are tips for how to negotiate with potential buyers.
- Encourage a sense of urgency
- Remain willing to walk away from the deal if a buyer isn’t willing to pay your asking price
- Consider splitting the difference on a price if it seems like there’s no other way to negotiate
- Consider reducing some closing costs or fees in order for a buyer to agree to the sale faster
- Don’t forget to negotiate repairs or other such changes so you can get them included in the deal
- Consider meeting requests for closing dates, but don’t let them push you into a timeframe that’s unrealistic
- Try to get your final price up to where you want it so the numbers work in your favor
On an overall basis, remain focused on keeping all promises made during these talks. You need to do so because a buyer can easily decide to pull out of the deal if you can’t hold up your end of the deal.
Final Home Selling Thoughts
Even though you want to get the best deal possible, don’t forget that it’s important to keep your home selling timeline in mind at all times. If you take too long with negotiations or end up getting into a bidding war over your home, then it might not sell at all.
Try to remain flexible throughout the entire situation. If one of the offers seems like an ideal one that you can’t pass up, consider going for the close. Don’t fall into a trap where you continuously wonder if you should wait for a slightly better deal. You might shoot yourself in the foot by passing on a quality deal and then watching your home remain on the market too long.
Some people will start wondering what’s wrong with the home the longer it stays up for sale. Or, people might simply lose interest if they sense you can’t come to a decision.
Finally, know that you can sell your home quickly if you make a solid plan and then hustle. Before you know it, you’ll sign the final paperwork and walk away pleased with your deal.
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.