How to Get Cash for Houses

How to Get Cash for Houses

If you are a homeowner contemplating how to sell your house or property quickly, and to sell it for cash, you have a number of ways to make that happen. In recent years, the options have grown, making the process of selling a home easier but perhaps a bit more confusing.

In this article, we take a look at the various options to sell homes for cash and the upside and downside of each, so you can make a choice that is best for you to get a fair price for your house.

Selling property that has problems such as damage or outdated features is especially tricky, and some of these options will work better than others if the house has “special circumstance.”

The various methods of selling a house will balance a number of factors. Factors include:

  • How much time/hassle is involved in selling with this method?
  • Will I pay a commission or not? How much?
  • How much will the house sell for?
  • How fast can I sell?
  • Will I have to accommodate home showings?
  • Can I sell the house as-is condition?
  • Do I have to make repairs or do maintenance on the house and yard?
  • Will there be contingencies in buyer offers?
  • Does the buyer have their own money or do they have to get a loan approved?
  • Is this an all cash deal or is financing involved?

Sell Through a Traditional Real Estate Agent or Real Estate Broker

The primary focus of this article is how to get a quick sale, and an all cash sale. Selling through a traditional real estate agent can provide this type of sale, but may not be a fast as you need if you want to sell in just a few days. It is possible, but the more likely scenario is that you’ll need a couple of months, at a minimum, to sell through an agent.

The vast majority of homes are sold using the services of a real estate broker and their agents. According to the National Association of Realtors 89% of home sales involve a real estate agent. Agents serve a valid purpose and can make the selling process smoother. Agents must be licensed and to get licensed they must take state-mandated classes and tests. So you can count on agents to have a much better understanding of real estate transactions than a typical person off the street.

Multiple Listing Service & Marketing

Agents have access to the multiple listing service (MLS) in your city or state. Traditionally, the MLS has been the central repository of real estate inventory that is for sale. When a homeowner decides to sell their home, they would “list” the house with an agent who would place the house on the MLS.

When buyers use a real estate agent to purchase a home, they will consult the MLS to find properties that match their criteria. Before the internet, the only way to gain access to the MLS was to consult with an agent. Today, the vast majority of properties listed in the MLS are readily available to, and searchable by, anyone with internet access. No real estate license is required to search. However, to view in-person and purchase a home that is in the MLS, you will still need to work through an agent.

All of the major real estate sites online tap into the MLS to get their inventory of homes. And broker and agent sites will also have MLS data feeds as well.

While the MLS gets a house “out there” for the world to find and see, agents do a good bit of the heavy lifting. This involves marketing, which includes getting professional photos made, posting them on MLS, and writing up the details for MLS. Then there are the physical signs that an agent will put in the yard and in other appropriate locations.

Selling

Once the marketing is done, an agent will begin making contact with any real estate buyers they may already have in their network. This outreach may also go to other agents they know in the area.

The agent will field phone calls, emails and texts from prospective buyers, typically represented by another agent. The agent will make arrangements to show the house, and conduct the showing if they are bringing their own buyer to the property.

Negotiating

If and when a buyer is ready to make an offer, the agent will receive the contract from the buyer’s agent and convey that to the property owner. In most cases, the seller will make a counteroffer, and the agent must relay that back to the buyer’s agent. The process will go back and forth until an agreement is reached or one party decides they can’t move forward.

Most real estate contracts will include contingencies. These are obstacles that must be overcome or conditions that must be met for the contract and sale to continue. For example, an inspection contingency would require the home to be inspected, and to pass inspection or meet some minimum requirements. Other contingencies might include an appraisal contingency and a financing contingency. Most of these contingencies protect the buyer, offering them a way out of the contract if certain conditions are not met. The downside for you as the seller is that you may waste several weeks waiting for contingencies to be met, only to have a mortgage turned down, for example, killing the sale.

Closing

If a deal is signed, the agent is responsible for carefully handling any earnest money and other documents. This begins the next phase which is to facilitate things like home inspections, repairs and other steps necessary to close the sale.

Agents often attend the closing to make sure it goes smoothly for their clients.

Once the closing happens, the agent is mostly done, but there may be some final steps they have to go through to finish the transaction.

The cost of using an agent varies. There is not a set amount. However, traditionally the commission is 6% of the transaction.

You can see that an agent does provide numerous services to their clients. Perhaps the most important is placing the property on the MLS, which makes the market aware of the property’s availability. The MLS data is sent out to literally thousands of sites, so the exposure to buyers is enormous.

Should you choose an agent to sell your house?

Most agents are great at listing a property. Great agents are great at selling a property. What is difficult for every agent is selling challenging houses. Sometimes these challenging houses are called “unsellable houses” because, without major work, the house is almost impossible to sell. A challenging house would be one that has problems or drawbacks that would make it unattractive to the average buyer who just wants a house they can move into and be done.

Examples of a challenging house would be one that has extensive damage or needs major repairs. This might be the result of a fire or storm damage such as a tornado, hail or flooding. An older house may need updating because styles have changed and the needs or demands of today’s buyer is much different from when the house was first built. For example, a four bedroom house, with just a single bathroom, would not appeal to a home buyer today. The solution to this type of challenge would likely be to add at least one more bathroom. The cost for this would run into the thousands of dollars and may take four to eight weeks to complete.

Some agents may be able to overcome these challenges and make a sale, but as a home owner, you must be aware that if your house has problems, your real estate agent may struggle for many months trying to sell your house if you don’t make the necessary repairs and updates to the property.

Upside:

  • Large exposure to the market thanks to MLS.
  • Maximize sales price because of the large pool of possible buyers.
  • A professional helps you through the process.
  • A “comfortable” traditional sale.

Downside:

  • Not a cash buyer. Buyers normally have to get a mortgage loan approved which often takes a month or two. There’s no guarantee a buyer’s loan will get approved, so you may waste time with an unqualified buyer.
  • Large commission.
  • Closing costs.
  • May take many months to sell, if at all.
  • You typically must leave the house so it can be shown to buyers.
  • Buyers often make many requests including requiring a home inspection, repairing the house, and more.
  • Buyers often have other contingencies that must be met before they have to close. For example, they may ask to have time to sell their house before they close on yours.

Sell Your House Yourself

Another way to get cash for houses is to sell it yourself. Selling a house “For Sale By Owner” or FSBO (affectionately known as “fizzbo”) is exactly what is sounds like. You put the house up for sale yourself. You are responsible for everything, from advertising, signage, showing the house, fielding offers, negotiating, handling the contracts and other paperwork, and more.

If you are not familiar with real estate, contracts and negotiating, this may be intimidating. You may want to consult a real estate attorney to review any documents or offers you receive to make sure they are valid and will make for a clean and smooth sale.

Marketing Without the MLS

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of selling by yourself is how to let the market know that your property is available. If you live on or near a major thoroughfare, putting a sign in the yard will draw potential buyers to you. But if you are off the beaten path, letting buyers know you have a house to sell is much more difficult. You can’t list your house on the MLS if you are not a real estate agent, so you’ll have to get creative and find other places to advertise.

There was a time when running a classified ad in a newspaper might be enough to sell a house for sale by owner, but thanks to the internet, those days are over. Home buyers rarely turn to classified ads when searching for a house. To reach home buyers, you can use available sites like Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter and others to get the word out. This may be enough. But if not, there are some hybrid real estate agents that give you the ability to list your house on the MLS for a lower percentage commission. This may mean you get little to no real services from an actual agent other than putting your house in the MLS so it gets out to the various sites that promote the listings.

Determining the fair market value of your house is something a real estate agent will help you do. Since you are selling yourself, you won’t have help determining your asking price. Getting this price right is extremely important. Ask for an amount below market value and you will almost certainly get less for your property than it is worth. Ask too much, and it may take you a very long time to find a buyer, if at all.

During the course of selling your house yourself, you will probably be contacted by real estate agents who tell you they have a buyer they will bring to you, but they will ask for a commission. This may be a reduced commission, say 3%. You will have to decide if this is worth the money to get the house sold.

Lease With an Option to Buy and Other Options for Selling Your House

While on the subject of selling your house yourself, it’s worth mentioning that there are alternatives to an outright sale.

If you don’t have to sell immediately you can lease (rent) a property to someone, and give them the option to buy the house at some time in the future. You can charge any amount you want for the option itself. You may or may not allow them to apply some or all of the rent they have paid to the purchase price. Everything is negotiable.

Lease options like this are fairly common, and it’s a great way to find someone to buy the house, but who can’t necessarily afford it today. By letting them lease the property and build up a down payment if you apply rent to the down payment, you help give the buyer time to improve their credit and save for a down payment. You get some rental income and the house won’t be sitting empty. Should the buyer not choose to exercise their option to buy, you keep all the rent and any additional fee you may have charged for the option itself.

Simple lease option contracts are available online, but you may want to consult a real estate attorney to make sure you are dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s.

There are other creative techniques like this that you can use to sell or rent a property, so you may need to explore those, especially as buyers present more creative purchase options to you. Many times, these will involve you, as the owner, providing all or partial owner financing. Buyers who can’t qualify for a traditional mortgage may propose this type of deal. You’ll have to decide if you want to be the bank. If a buyer stops making payments, you will have to figure out how to collect payments or eventually go through the foreclosure process to remove the owner and take the home back.

Upside:

  • If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you get to enjoy the entire selling process and the satisfaction of making the sale on your own.
  • You pay zero commission.
  • Negotiations may be faster since you are dealing directly with the buyer, not through an agent.

Downside:

  • You have to do everything. You will likely spend many hours of work handling the sale yourself.
  • Closing costs.
  • Advertising to a large, interested market of actual homebuyers is difficult without using the MLS.
  • Without reaching a large audience of buyers, you may not maximize your selling price.
  • The legal side of conducting a sale may be intimidating.

Sell to a House Flipper

Thanks to multiple TV shows, house flipping has risen to mass awareness. Most people have at least seen commercials for one TV show or another where a person or company buy houses to “fix and flip” for a higher price. And this phenomenon has grown out of many real estate “gurus” who advertise on infomercials and online, promising to make you wealthy beyond your wildest dreams by buying and selling houses.

House flippers tend to be a guy with a truck who does a lot of the renovation work himself. Flippers will look for properties that have problems and determine what it will cost to repair them, then offer the homeowner a price low enough that they can repair it and sell it and still make a profit.

Flippers look for unwanted property, distressed properties, houses in poor condition, vacant homes and other properties.

Flippers will buy a house for cash, but some may get a little bit “funny” with the finances. There are plenty of legitimate companies out there, but there are also unscrupulous people who prey on home sellers.

You’ve probably seen “bandit signs” on telephone poles announcing “Cash for Your House” or something along those lines. Some of these companies really do buy houses for cash. But some are what are called wholesalers, who try to get you to sign an assignment contract that will tie up your house for 30 to 60 days. Then the wholesaler will go looking for someone else to sell or “assign” the house to. The wholesaler doesn’t use their own money, you don’t get cash immediately and you are left waiting until the wholesaler finds a real buyer or they cancel the contract and walk away.

The legitimate house flippers will give you a much more thorough purchase and sale agreement that is strictly for them to purchase the house, and not assign the right to purchase to someone else.

Upside:

  • Flippers will buy properties “as-is” so you don’t have to make repairs.
  • Cash buyer. Sometimes flippers have their own funds and do not have to get a loan approved.
  • No showings required.
  • Will buy house as-is, any condition.
  • No repairs or maintenance.
  • No closing costs.

Downside:

  • Some flippers will get you to sign a contract that ties up the property, then they will go looking for a buyer who actually has the money to purchase the house.
  • Flippers may not have their own money, so they will have to get a loan. Expect delays of several weeks while the loan is being approved.
  • Will likely pay less than a “retail” buyer.

Buy-and-Hold Real Estate Investors

Unlike the flippers, this category of buyer is interested in rental property. They buy houses to rent out and create a stream of income. You’ll find the individual investor or small investment firms paying cash for houses in this buy-and-hold category. There are also several institutional investors who buy hundreds of properties each year.

Rental property investors will try to buy investment property at prices that allow the rental income to cover the mortgage payment (which would include the loan, insurance and property taxes). If they pay too much, the rent won’t cover the mortgage each month and they end up paying out of pocket. The large institutional investors have their own money and may be able to pay more for houses than smaller investors.

Upside:

  • Cash buyer. Buy-and-hold investors may be institutional investors, which means they have their own money and can act quickly and pay quickly.
  • May buy the house as-is.
  • No showings required.
  • Will buy house as-is.
  • No repairs or maintenance.
  • No closing costs.

Downside:

  • Some, but not all, buy-and-hold investors don’t like to spend money to fix or update properties, so if your house is outdated or damaged, it probably won’t be attractive to this type of buyer.
  • Will likely pay less than a “retail” buyer.

iBuyers

This new breed of home buyer is largely internet-based companies (thus the “i” in “iBuyers”) that use advanced technology to evaluate property values and make quick purchasing decisions. iBuyers, also called “instant buyers,” like Opendoor, Offerpad and Zillow Offers have developed algorithms called automated valuation models (AVM) using large datasets that allow them to offer home sellers a sale price for their property without much, if any, human intervention. Some of these companies will purchase a property without seeing the property.

Most of these iBuyers are interested in homes that need very little, if any, renovation work. They make quick decisions and can close on a home quickly (or slowly if you need time to find another home, etc.)

Every iBuyer has their own unique system. Some will buy sight unseen, while others will make an initial, automated offer, but will require an in-person inspection and will make an adjusted offer afterward. The fees associated with iBuyers vary from one to the next. Some have fees similar to or the same as a real estate agent commission because they actually utilize a local agent to facilitate the transaction.

Upside:

  • Cash buyer.
  • Sell quickly.
  • Close quickly or slowly depending on your needs.
  • No showings required.
  • Will buy house as-is.
  • May not require repairs or maintenance.

Downside:

  • Will buy houses as-is, but iBuyers focus mostly on houses that require very little work to prepare them to resell.
  • Initial cash offer may be reduced after a home inspection.
  • Fees and commissions similar to a real estate agent.
  • Closing costs.
  • You will deal with a national company, likely in a different state from where you live.
  • Will likely pay less than a “retail” buyer.

Professional Cash Home Buyers

Cash home buyers offer exactly what the name implies: cash for houses. While all categories of home buyer has to provide cash to the seller through some mechanism, cash buyers normally have their own source of funds, so they don’t rely on traditional bank financing and approvals when purchasing a property. Instead, this type of buyer has money in the bank ready to purchase a property, or they have backing that can provide funds on-demand so there is no delay buying a property.

By contrast, home buyers, especially a person who buys a property to live in personally, traditionally put some of their own money down, then borrow the rest from a bank or other lending institution. The mortgage lender may take several weeks to approve the loan, delaying the closing until the approval is made. And there is no guarantee that a loan will be approved, so a home seller may agree to sell their home, only to wait six weeks to find out the buyer’s loan was turned down.

Professional cash home buyers usually buy houses as-is, meaning they don’t require the seller to make any repairs, clean anything, do any maintenance or update anything. Professional cash home buyers will often buy houses that are in any condition including water damage, fire or even tornado destruction.

When making a purchase offer, this type of buyer will take into consideration the cost to renovate and repair, and the time it will take to make those changes to the property.

Upside:

  • Cash buyer.
  • Sell quickly.
  • No showings required.
  • Will buy house as-is, any condition.
  • No repairs or maintenance.
  • Close quickly. Flexible closing date.
  • No worries about loan denials.
  • No real estate commission or fees.
  • No closing costs.
  • No contingencies.

Downside:

  • Will likely pay less than a “retail” buyer.

We are in the Professional Cash Home Buyer category, and welcome the opportunity to make you a free, no-obligation cash offer on your home. We buy houses in Atlanta and surrounding counties in the Metro Atlanta area. Complete this simple form and we will make you an offer in 24 hours.

Your Best House Selling Option

As you can see, you have a variety of options to sell your house. Every option can get you to a sale, but one is more appropriate for your situation and needs.

Weigh your needs, which really boil down to these three: speed, price, convenience. Then get your house sold!

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