Trying to sell a house, even in a fast market, can feel like a never-ending (and incredibly daunting) activity. And if you need to sell fast for some reason, then you’re probably curious: How fast is fast, exactly, and what will you need to do in order to get the fastest deal possible?

First, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions about why and how you want to sell. If speed trumps every other consideration (such as price, for example), then you might not want to list your house on the open market at all, and you definitely want to avoid options like FSBO (for sale by owner), which can take much longer than the open market.

We’ll guide you through everything you need to know about how to sell fast before you even have to talk to an agent.


Consider your options

You might not have known that options existed for you to sell your house fast—well, they do, and you’ll want to weigh them depending on whether your goal is to sell the house as quickly as possible, make as much money as possible from the sale, or a little bit of both.


Option 1: FSBO

Plenty of people who want to sell their house fast go the FSBO, or for-sale-by-owner, route. This means that you’ll be handling everything about the sale yourself, from vetting buyers to handling open houses or tours to weighing and accepting offers to ensuring that everything gets to the closing table buttoned up and ready to roll.

That said, if you want to sell your house fast, this is probably not the way to go unless you happen to already have a buyer ready to throw money at you. A FSBO house might or might not get listed on the multiple listing service (MLS) or real estate portals; it might or might not be advertised to a wide range of buyers (depending on how good you are at marketing); and negotiations could very well fall through without professionals there to ensure everyone gets at least a little bit of what they want.

But you’ll save some money with this route, won’t you? A little bit from avoiding agent commission pay … however, FSBO homes sell for significantly less than homes listed on the open market.

It takes longer, and you won’t make as much money doing it. If you want to sell fast, think hard about whether FSBO is the best path for you.


Option 2: Sell to an investor or iBuyer

Real estate investors buy homes to rent, or to fix up and “flip”—sell in a few months for more than they made. And iBuyers essentially do the same thing, although they’re more in the business for the “fix and flip” than the “buy and hold” strategy. So if your house is a fixer-upper, or located in an area with a robust rental market, then this could be a lucrative option for you.

One nice thing about selling to an investor or an iBuyer is that they almost certainly have cold, hard cash to spend on your house; they won’t need to wait to get approved for a mortgage loan, or to slog through underwriting, before the purchase can be approved. This means that you can close fast—really fast, sometimes in a matter of days or a couple of weeks, depending on what you want! Sellers can control the timeline more with investor or iBuyer sales.

On the other hand, investors and iBuyers are businesses that intend to make money from your home, not a sweet young couple just starting out in life and hoping to raise a family inside the four walls you previously owned. So they’re going to protect their margins, which means that any offers you get from investors or iBuyers will likely be below your home’s market value.

You won’t have to make any repairs, do any decluttering, or have any responsibilities except for packing and moving. That luxury can be worth the iBuyer service fee or the low offer from an investor, and if time is truly of the essence, this is probably the best option for you.

If you want to make as much money as possible and sell your house fast, however, you’ll want to look at the third option very closely.


Option 3: List it on the open market

The open market tends to be the most lucrative for sellers simply because it has the widest pool of qualified buyers who are eager and willing to buy your house. It’s not always the fastest option—depending on your market and who’s buying, it could take a couple of months to reach the closing table after listing your house on the market.

That said, this is the best way to make the most possible money from your home sale. And if you work with an agent who knows what they’re doing and can help your house move quickly, then you might not actually be sacrificing very much on the speed front, either!


Work with an expert

This is one of the most critical things you can do to sell your house fast.

Think about the last time you tried to do something that you’d never done before, or had perhaps only done once. Changing oil? Baking biscuits? Helping kids with Common Core math?

How long did it take you to accomplish that task? Did you have to keep referring back to a manual or book (or the internet) to help you figure out what to do next? How easy or pleasant was the process? Alternatively, how frustrating and irritating did you find it?

When we do something frequently, it becomes like second nature. Real estate agents work on home sale transactions every day, which means that something that would take you an entire day to finish would probably take a trained agent just an hour or so.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.