Studies consistently show that it can take around 6 months to sell a house. Unfortunately, for many people it takes much longer.
But over the years I've discovered a lot about how to speed things up. Since then, we've have helped thousands of house sellers who were looking to sell their house fast.
So what's the secret to a fast property sale?
Compromising on price is the single biggest way to speed up your house sale. This could mean pricing your house more realistically or choosing a different way to sell (e.g. using a house-buying company or auction). Presenting your home well and engaging a good solicitor before you sell can also speed things up.
In this article we'll cover these points, and more. I've tried to distil almost 10 years of "fast house sale experience" into a number of things you can do today to help ensure a quicker house sale.
If you want a really fast sale, then a house-buying company could be the right option for you. You can have a sale agreed within days, and move in as little as a couple of weeks if you want to.
Take this free quiz I've designed for you to see if you're a good fit.
Compromising on price to sell your house faster
Unfortunately, selling houses the traditional way just takes a long time. But why?
In a nutshell:
- You have to wait for a buyer who wants to spend their life savings on your house ahead of all the other ones available...
- Next, you need to navigate a lengthy and complicated legal process to sell them the house.
- Your buyer might need to secure a mortgage too, which certainly isn't always fast or straight forward.
- Finally, remember that the sale can fall through at any time, and for any reason. This puts you right back at square-one.
It's just really difficult.
In fact, in a 2022 study Zoopla found that an average house sale takes almost 6 months. (This is just the average though, meaning that it'll take longer for an unlucky half of home sellers!).
However, if you're prepared to compromise on price, or incur a few extra costs, you can speed things up. (Sometimes dramatically).
Let's get into the different ways that compromising on price can lead to a faster sale.
1. Sell to a house-buying company
I've said you can compromise on price to speed things up... well this is the most extreme version.
A genuine house-buying company (I can recommend one for you) can make you an offer within 24-48 hours, and complete on the purchase of your home in as little as two weeks. The process is totally flexible, meaning you're in control throughout.
Without doubt, this is the fastest way to sell your house.
You won't have to deal with estate agents either, there'll be no viewings, and it's the most stress-free way to sell.
It comes with a significant compromise on the price. This means you'll have to sell your home for a discount to enjoy the speed and certainty of a home-buying service.
I've designed this quick 60-second quiz to help you find out whether or not a house-buying company is the right option for you:
2. Sell by auction
Auctions can seem intimidating or unusual, but they're growing in popularity over time and becoming main stream.
In fact, nearly 1 in 40 properties now sell by auction.
But what does it mean in terms of a compromise on price?
The way I always say to think about auctions is this:
- Selling through an estate agent gets you usually get the highest price for your home, but it's the longest, most drawn out and difficult sale.
- Selling to a cash house-buying company gets you a much faster sale, but you get a much lower price.
- Selling by auction is like a middle ground between the two: You'll get a higher price than selling to a house buying company, but it'll be much faster and easier than selling through an estate agent.
I've written extensively about the benefits of selling by auction here.
Most importantly, if you're interested in exploring an auction sale then check out my article on finding the best auction house to get started with. I recommend getting an auction appraisal from them and asking lots of questions before moving forward.
What if selling by auction or to a house-buying company is too much of a compromise on price though? Well, there's still plenty more you can do to help ensure a faster house sale.
3. Price your house correctly from the start
I've bought and sold nearly 150 properties, and on average I managed to get those sales done in just 105 days.
That's months faster than the average. (In fact, nearly 45% faster!).
How did we do it?
I'm going to let you in on one of my most powerful (but simplest) secrets:
We priced the property realistically from the start.
How many properties are overpriced?
Overpricing your property is one of the worst things you can do if you want a fast, smooth sale.
This isn't a rare mistake though. In fact, most properties are overpriced.
The problem is so widespread that, in 2020, Rightmove announced the results of their study of 300,000 house sales... they learned that properties are twice as likely to sell if priced correctly the first time around.
Why are so many houses overpriced?
The first thing you need to know is this: When your estate agent comes value your property, they aren't there to give you a valuation. They're there to give you a sales pitch.
They're trying to win your business, and seducing you with the promise of a high sale price is the easiest way to do it.
Unfortunately, most home sellers fall for this. The conventional wisdom when you're getting ready to sell your house is to get valuations from 3 agents, and go with the one who gives you the highest price.
This is awful advice though. In almost every case, this just results in you choosing the estate agent who was the least honest, and overvalued your home the most.
What happens when you overprice your house?
If you overprice your house, it appears less attractive to people. They'll go for other houses that appear cheaper, and so you'll have fewer viewings. You can waste weeks or months (even years sometimes) at an unrealistic price.
Pricing properties correctly has been the single biggest factor in reducing our sale times from 6 months to just 105 days.
If you want to sell your house quickly but need the best price, I'd suggest taking the same approach.
How to price your home correctly
When estate agents visit your home to carry out their valuation, be clear you want a realistic valuation. Let them know you're onto their game, and you don't want to play it.
When you receive their valuation, ask them to back it up with evidence. They should be able to show you similar homes nearby that have sold for around that price.
If the valuation seems realistic and is supported by evidence, it should be a great starting point.
4. Reduce your asking price if things aren't working
For a fast sale, start marketing your property at a realistic price. But be ready to adjust if it isn't working.
Taking this approach was another huge factor in speeding up our sales. My belief is that for most properties, if they're well-priced then you should be able to agree a sale with a buyer within 6 weeks.
But how do you know if you're on track?
When priced correctly, we'd normally expect around 1-2 viewings per week on a house. If we get 4 weeks into our sale but are falling short of this level, we'll typically review the price and consider reducing it slightly.
A typical reduction is usually £5,000-£10,000.
If your property is in a rural area though, or if your home is unusual, quirky, or of higher value, then prepare to be more patient. Think about reviewing the price every 8 weeks rather than every 4 weeks.
I'll go into more detail on our pricing strategy another time, but these are the basics.
5. Pay more for a better estate agent
Ok, this isn't necessarily a compromise on the price you sell for, but it is being willing to incur some extra costs along the way.
My advice: Don't go with the cheapest estate agent you can find.
In my opinion, one of the worst decisions you can make is to go with a free or low-cost estate agent, or one who charges up-front.
People get seduced by the promise of saving £3,000 or however much in fees... but they often fail to consider the bigger picture.
Cheaper estate agents offer a reduced level of service. (That's how they can afford to charge less). But that can easily translate to a drastically lower selling price!
Rather than being a cost-saving decision, it might be one of the most expensive mistakes you can make.
I'm not the only one saying this... the whole market is screaming it too: Online estate agents have been around for 10 years now. If they were all they were a no-brainer, they'd have won more than a 7.4% market share by now.
If you've gone with a cheap (or free) estate agent, consider changing to a high street agent instead.
The estate agent comparison site, getagent.co.uk, is a decent place to get started.
6. Make yourself chain-free
This is another place where you can spend a bit of money to speed your sale up.
Chains slow down sales and make them much more complicated.
What is a house chain? In a nutshell, chains occur when one home buyer is also relying on the sale of their own property before they can move. This creates a string (or chain!) of linked house purchases, where the success of each individual transaction relies on the success of all the others.
If you're selling your home and buying another, you've got a chain.
Here's an example:
Unfortunately, chains take a long time to come together, and a long time to complete. The chance of a chain collapsing altogether also grows as the chain grows.
Communication becomes more and more difficult in lengthy chains as well, due to the sheer number of parties involved. This makes them all the more stressful to be part of.
For these reasons, it can be great if you can make yourself chain-free. It's one way to help you sell your house more quickly.
For example, you could move into a rented property (or move int with family members) between your sale and your purchase.
Although you'd incur rent, becoming chain-free can simplify things significantly, speed things up, and make your sales much more likely to actually go through.
7. Get properly prepared (solicitors & presentation)
So much time is lost during your sale because of poor preparation.
Unfortunately, as home sellers few of us are actually told what it means to be properly prepared. It still shocks me that estate agents don't do a better job of this. But follow this simple advice and you can shave weeks off how long it takes to sell your house.
Get a solicitor before finding your buyer
Sellers will almost always be told not to instruct a solicitor until they find a buyer. But this is awful advice! It simply causes a delay of up to 2-3 weeks once you've found your buyer. (This is often how long it takes to get signed up with a solicitor, complete the raft of initial paperwork, and have your solicitor issue a contract pack to your buyer).
Signing up with your solicitor and completing your initial paperwork when your house first goes on the market makes much more sense.
I'll have more articles coming soon on finding the right solicitor, and will be able to share my personal choices.
Get your home well-presented
This is a no-brainer for most people, but many sellers still try to sell their house while it's messy, and not looking its best.
John Wagstaff, managing director at Pettyson Estate Agents, has written a fantastic article on how to prepare your house for sale. It's worth a look.
Preparing your property suitably for its target audience means two things.
- More attractive photos. This will entice more people to come and view.
- Better viewings. This will entice more people to offer after viewing. (It gives you a good chance of getting a higher sale price too. This means you might achieve an offer that you find acceptable much earlier in the process, which speeds things up nicely).
How to guarantee a fast house sale
If some of the later tips don't sound like your cup of tea, and if you're happy to work with a lower price in exchange for a quick and easy sale, then a house-buying company could be the right option.
It's not the right option for everyone though, so I designed this short 60-second quiz. It'll help you discover whether or not a 14-day sale to a house-buying company could be the right option for you. Click below to get started:
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert