How to Sell Your House Quickly

There aren’t many (any?) reasons I can think of where as a person selling your house you wouldn’t want to sell your house quickly.  Real estate statistics show that the peak interest in a house on the market falls between weeks 3 and 5 and after this time a listing starts to become “stale” and interest in the property will steadily decrease.  Last summer while we were buying a home together we had not yet put our house on the market.  This means we were going to carry two houses (2 mortgages, 2 sets of utility bills, 2 sets of property taxes) which is not an ideal situation.  We knew that in order to sell your house quickly we would have to have a home selling plan prior to buying our current home.

Call on Expert Advice

Our first step, which we performed before we had even firmly decided that we would be buying a home in the spring/summer was to pull on as many resources as we could for knowledge and advice.  So, it was off to the Internet for myself.  Originally I was researching how to sell your house without a real estate agent and this led to discovering all sorts of websites that provided advice on how to sell your house quickly. Like a sponge I started to absorb everything I could find to read on the topic.

One thing I discovered during the research was that many real estate agents are willing to provide free real estate assessments with the hopes that providing such a service will put them in your good graces and employ.  We decided that as part of this assessment we were going to ask the agents to give us ideas and tips on improvements they would suggest we make to speed up the sale of our house.  The real estate agents were more than agreeable not only provide usexpert advice sell your house quickly with this advice and a price assessment they also freely provided lists of comparable properties in that neighbourhood which they used to assess the house’s value.  You see, the real estate agents want to sell your house quickly, assuming they get your business.  They understand the longer a house sits on the market the harder it becomes to sell and the longer the agent is spending time on you as a client instead of focusing their efforts elsewhere.  We had two well respected agents come through our house and they gave us a lot of useful pointers.

The final step we took in our research was to call in a wedding gift offer from one of my groomsman. He offered to come to our house and do some work for a weekend as a wedding gift.  Given he has skills I do not, this was a great gift.  Jim came to our house for a weekend and spent a 1/2 day assessing all of the projects we could undertake and what he thought the Return on Investment (ROI) for each would be.  As he had recently done a pretty major reno of his duplex in Toronto he had a lot of insight on material costs, labour efforts and the ROI.  Jim, being the great friend he is, then offered to come back 3 additional weekends to help us as there were tons of projects to do.  He figured we’d need 2 months to get the work done (working evenings and weekends).

Remove the “Issues”

Our second step was to take Jim’s advice (which I also read online) which was that in order to sell your house quickly you have to realize that the proliferation of home improvement and real estate television programs has made buyer knowledgeable but also extremely picky.  This means you need to remove/reduce as many potential road blocks, problem areas or issues that a buyer can find or will notice.  And they will notice!  Are their maintenance projects in your house that you just hadn’t gotten to?  Fix them.  Buyers don’t want to see “work” when they walk into a home.  The home improvement shows have moved buyers to expect a finished product.  We had a slew of “issues” and mini-projects that we needed to fix just to ensure our house was in working order.

Beyond fixing the minimum problem areas, our house was straight out of the 1980s in terms of decorating.   We had a choice to leave the house dated or we could pick and choose which improvements we could make that would yield the highest ROI.  Jim convinced us that by spending $3,000 we could get a ROI of $15,000 – $20,000 and that you can sell your house quickly with some elbow grease and dedication.  Since we were taking our time buying a home we decided to undertake a lot of his home improvement suggestions and his offer to help us 4 weekends (including one project that saved us $1,000 by not having to pay someone else to do it!).  In the end we spent about $3,800 and sold our house for $17,500 more than our real estate agent originally value assessment – a 461% ROI.  In our next article I will detail the slew of projects we accomplished and looking back I am surprised we got them all done in the two and a half months we took to work on them.

Decide Whether an Agent Will Sell Your House Quickly

Or, at the very least, determine what your priorities are in your home sale.  Do you feel a need to sell your house quickly? Do you think you can sell your house quickly without the use of a real estate agent? Do you have the time and energy to handle calls and showings for prospective buyers?  Would you be comfortable hosting open houses and potentially hearing critiques of your property first hand? Do you know what comparable houses have sold for in your area? Are you skilled at and comfortable with negotiation regarding large sums of money – your money? Can you effectively market your house?

How you answer these questions will ultimately determine whether you want to use a real estate agent to sell your home.  There are indeed options available for Canadians.  The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system is opening up and agents with access to this service are offering deals where they simply post your house for a flat or percentage fee. One realtor in the Ottawa area was selling listings-on-MLS-only well before the MLS members were forced  Alternatively, you could use an established company such as For Sale By Owner or Property Guys    As I mentioned early, my research into selling our house started with my researching everything I could on selling ourselves and saving a hefty commission pay out to an agent. So, if you think you can sell your house quickly, and are comfortable handling the entire process, perhaps sale by owner is for you.

While I believe I could have handled selling our house, especially after the improvements we made, after 3+ months of renovations and subsequent cleaning+staging we decided to leave the selling work to the agent who helped us in buying a home. We were burnt out and given we were carrying two houses at the same time, we had built a relationship with an agent who helped 90 families buy and/or sell homes (the average for a Realtor in Peterborough is under 5 sales) and we were confident in his ability to sell the house.  And he did just that. Our third step then was signing selling agency with this Realtor.  It paid off as we had a conditional offer for full asking price within 10 days and then a second but firm offer for 98.5% of asking within 26 days.  He told us “Given the improvements you’ve made, I think I can sell your house fast” and he did just that.


Would you want to buy a house being sold by a pack rat?  Unlikely, unless, that house was decluttered.  If you want to sell your house quickly you really need to get rid of all of that stuff you find endearing but others will think is clutter.  You don’t need to throw things away, but you do need to get items out of sight – preferably OFF site (storage!) While your home doesn’t have to be minimalist and unlivable you really should do things like:

  • remove extraneous appliances from counters
  • get rid of multiples of things in you cupboards (e.g. do you have multiple coffee decanters? or more than one bottle of the same type of spice?)
  • organize your closets by getting rid of clothes you haven’t worn in the last year – buyers will look in closets!declutter sell your house fast
  • if you have hundreds of books in bookcases pack up the ratty books and free up space on the shelves
  • clean up the stuff in kids’ rooms that they aren’t using any longer
  • remove old, hard, discoloured or duplicate items from your medicine cabinet ‘cuz buyers snoop their too
  • clear out old items from the linen closet
  • if you’ve been stashing items under beds chances are that they’ve been there a while – get them off the premises
  • organize things using totes
  • throw out the old – the used or unwanted. Don’t simply re-organize junk.
  • put stuff where you always meant it to be – in it’s proper place
  • learn how to yard sale and sell stuff you no longer need
  • don’t ignore the exterior of your house – the shed, garage and yard may need attention too.

Just a few ideas above. We personally packed tons of things into boxes and stored them on the 2nd floor of the garage and it was remarkable how open and spacious the house became.

Cleanliness will Sell Your House Quickly

Clean, CLEAN, CLE-E-A-A-N-N!!!!!!! Make your house spotless. Why? Buyers want to imagine moving into the house and they won’t imagine moving into a dirty house.  A hairball in a drain can turn a buyer off as can fingerprint smudges on glass.  The littlest thing can be the one thing a potential buyer can’t stand being dirty.  After our renovations we not only found ourselves cleaning up after the work but also after months of not worrying about cleaning and on top of that, tasks we’d never undertaken during the 4+ years we lived in the house.  Cleaning and de-cluttering took us an additional month after the 2.5 months of renovations.  Did I mention we were exhausted when it came time to sell?  So what are some things to pay attention to? Well …

  • Make sure your floors are spotless and clean as can be.  If you have carpet that means it is VERY clean – possibly even washed.  And all those little crumbs of who knows what along the base boards?  They need to come up too.  If you have hardwood, which we did, it needs to shine.  We used a steam cleaner mop as it is a green way to clean and is really effective.  Laminate on the floor? Water works, but not steam.  Tile? Steam works here too but you may need to clean the grout between tiles and that is not a fun task!
  • Dust your house from top to bottom.  No dust bunnies or cobwebs anywhere.  As you have now de-cluttered you’ll likely find dust you didn’t know existed.  A hint – dust the top of the front of sliding shelves too.
  • Clean all surfaces pretty much daily.  Kitchen and bathroom counters need to look like you can eat off of them.  And if you have any gunk around sinks, get an old toothbrush and scrub it away.
  • Speaking of the kitchen and bathrooms … everything has to be spotless.  Clean Rest Rooms, People Happy, clean bathroom, sell your house quicklyThis means stainless steel, taps, nozzles sparkle.  Appliances are free of fingerprints or food.  The bathtub and ESPECIALLY toilets are clean as can be.  Sinks are wiped down a few times a day.   An hour spent learning how to install a tile back splash could pay off in much more money when you do sell, for example. The saying goes: kitchens and bathrooms sell your house quickly.
  • If you have pets vacuum or sweep up the shedding hair a few times a day.  We have 3 cats and a Newfoundland dog and boy oh boy do they shed a lot.  It didn’t help that we were trying to sell in June.
  • Make sure the fridge and over interiors are spotless.
  • Clean your windows on all floors!  We hadn’t had our windows clean, inside or out, since I had moved in.  We hired a company to do the exterior windows as I don’t like heights and Mrs. SPF didn’t want to tackle the 2nd floor windows that were about 40 feet up.  Clean windows let more light through them and you want your house to appear bright.
  • Clean up every piece of garbage you see on or even near your property.  Every scrap wrapper, piece of plastic, cigarette butt or otherwise has to go.  Give the impression people don’t drop their garbage on your property.
  • Don’t let your dog do it’s business in your yard.  Grab a green dog waste bag and take her off site.  A buyer doesn’t want to be avoiding land mines when looking at your yard.
  • Clean out your shed and/or garage.  These structures don’t have to be perfectly clean but chances are some cobwebs could be cleared and the floor could use some sweeping.

Cleaning isn’t fun.  Where possible you might want to make your own cleaning products for your health’s sake.

Staging Will Help to Sell Your House Quickly

If you’ve done the things I mentioned already, you’re house is appealing to potential buyers.  Thing is, you can still do more!  House staging is proven to help you sell your house quickly.  We did a number of different things to stage our home, that I will discuss next week.  The thing is, i’ve already mentioned some of the staging things you need to do: declutter, clean everything, upgrade your house for good ROI (another article next week on what we did) plus some other tips and hints you can employ to sell your house quickly. Depending upon your neighborhood, there are certain staging options that may make sense that wouldn’t apply to everyone.

Pricing Correctly

If you over price your house the risk to sell your house quickly greatly diminishes.  Most buyers use a buying agent and those agents have access to the MLS database and know what houses in your area sell for.  Your sellers agent has the same data and should know where your house falls in terms of quality, finish and location.  As our house was a 4 bedroom spacious well finished two story century home our agent(s) felt it should be priced in the upper range of the prices in our area.  Interestingly, we learned that our Realtor usually preferred older century houses while our other buyers agent preferred newer homes but when it came to the price our Realtor wanted to price our house $10,000 less than his team member.  He of course accepted our desire to try to get the higher amount but warned us we may have to adjust the price after the first month if we did not sell.  He didn’t want a stale listing and we think he understood that carrying two houses is a burden for most anyone.  In the end we got 98.9% of asking which we were ecstatic about.  Our research, hard work and sweat, faith in hiring a fantastic Realtor who we were truly comfortable working with paid off.

66 thoughts on “How to Sell Your House Quickly

  1. What a comprehensive review! Didn’t it make you nervous to own two homes? Congrats on selling. I too, believe in using a Realtor, they just need to be a GREAT Realtor!

    1. Hi Dean,

      Yes. We were somewhat nervous. Luckily we are both gainfully employed. We would have sold our old house first if we wouldn’t be able to afford to carry both. We weren’t saving much money last summer though! And our Realtor, as evidenced by his teams sales vs the rest of the city, really is a great one.

  2. This is an excellent and informative article!

    I’m just wondering, how fast were you hoping to sell your home, in just a few weeks?

    And how long did it take for you to do all the cleaning and decluttering?!

    1. Hi Rob, thanks for the response!

      We did hope to sell in less than a month. After all the hard work we put into it on the renos we hoped the “finish” and the price point for a new home owner would get us a sale quickly. As we had bought our “home”, selling this house quickly was pretty important to us but getting our money back out of the renos was important too.

      It took about 1 months to get all the cleaning and decluttering done. We had neglected both while in reno-mode and there were things we’d never done (window cleaning, deck and walkway power washing to name a few). Renos also make a mess. We had hoped to do ALL of the work in 2.5 months but ended needing 3.5 months.

    1. Exactly krantcents. We were selling after the HST (harmonized sales tax) was implemented so this meant the taxes on RE commission was increasing by 5% which really adds up on an $11,000 commission. Our broker lowered his rate by 0.5% (to 4.5% instead of the normal 5%) as well to help offset the extra tax. That was nice of him.

  3. There are some valuable point in this post but ultimately selling your comes down to having a skilled realestate broker and and if your house is priced right.
    No matter how many appropiate the staging is prce makes a diffrence. I really think you’re brave to have carried two homes, Great post.

    1. Thanks Sonya! I do agree on the price, however, given that selling yourself is done quite a bit (ok – like 2-3%, at least in Canada) having the agent isn’t absolutely necessary but I think they do help quite a bit. I will likely write about using buyers and sellers agents as this is likely a series i’ll continue on until i’ve exhausted discussing our exciting experience.
      Carrying two houses was nerve-wracking but it helped that a couple put in an offer (conditional on them selling their house within 3 weeks) for full asking. We felt the work we’d done, and ultimately the staging as well, meant the house was attractive to buyers.
      Thanks for checking out our site and commenting!

  4. We are still working on owning one home, but there are many individuals who are trying to sell their houses and would appreciate the valuable content here. I bet there are some real estate agents who would want to hand this out to potential clients looking to sell quickly. Nice job!

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  6. Great post! I recently purchased a home with my fiancee (we are eleven days away from settling). We saw 19 other homes, but really fell in love with the last one we saw. Here are some tips from a buyer’s perspective: Add some ambiance (music playing, candles lit, etc.). Take care of the little details before showing the home, such as touching up old nail holes on the wall, dented crown molding, old door knobs, etc. because buyer’s will feel better about the condition of the rest of the home if it looks like it’s been taken cared of. Offer a list of local sights/things to do, services to use and leave it on the kitchen counter–this shows that you care about the buyer, and is a nice personal touch. If you are in the middle of finishing a project, such as retiling a countertop, put the materials near the project to show that it will be completed before the buyer buys the property. Tell the buyers why you are moving; it makes a buyer feel better if it is to upgrade, downgrade if kids are moving out, etc., instead of leaving it to the buyer’s imagination (because of the high electric bills or bad neighbors).

    1. Personally I would not leave a project half done while trying to sell. It is a turn off for the buyer b/c they a) know you are DIY and b) it may not get completed!

      Aside from that some good ideas here. Thanks.

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  8. Great lessons picked up from this post and realised that the price has got to be right and you’ve also got to have the rigth people in place such as the agent to help sell the place.

    Bravo on having the to cope with 2 homes on the go! Great post.

  9. When I sold my property a couple of years back, I was naive to think that I did not have to stage the house to appeal to the prospective buyers. My justification was that it should look real. Trust me, I know better now. Took me 7 months to sell the house and that was a super stressful time cos I had to cover the mortgage during that time while paying for my new place already!

    1. Staging is the minimum IMO. We went well beyond, but the house was so dated we didn’t want the 7mo selling period. We paid for 2 houses as well, but for about 3 months as it was all signed off but the closing date on our house was a few months longer than our closing on the house we’d bought.

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  11. You may also consider installing a solar, wind, geothermal or another clean energy system. The increased value of the house will be more than enough to pay back the cost of the system and help you sell the house quickly. The buyer will appreciate lower energy bills and the ability to roll the cost of the system in the mortgage.

    1. This type of investment will raise the property value (Wind is hit and miss due to the perceptions about the down side of turbines) but I am not sure that such a hefty investment is smart. If you can’t recoup 100% of the investment, or close, I think there are better ways to upgrade a home for sale.

    2. As a real estate investor myself, I would not recommend this approach for a seller. I do believe in alternate forms of energy and I would definitely consider this for a house I am living in long term, but from an investment/money standpoint I highly doubt that you will recoup your initial investment unless you happen upon a very green buyer who is willing to pay a high premium for these features. Your average buyer will not pay tens of thousands extra for green features that they may not even want or value. You would be better off spending the money new bathrooms, kitchen or flooring. You need to appeal to the masses, not the few.

  12. Thanks for the tips! Finding the right realtor is the way to go. I’ve been researching on finding a good agent after having to fire the last 2 agents I was working with.

    editor: we do not link to commercial sites we do not use or have a relationship with

  13. Excellent article. One of the biggest mistakes sellers make is to overprice their home. It inevitably leads to the exact OPPOSITE result than they are hoping for. When you are selling your house you need to CREATE DEMAND for it. By overpricing you actually reduce demand by reduce the amount of interest in it. List your house at fair market value and do all of the other things mentioned in this article to make it spotless and desirable to as many buyers as possible.

    1. If someone wants to sell their house easily, follow these tips and contact the author if you have additional questions.

      1. I was in Miami last weekend and realtor after realtor was telling me that the biggest condo building bust in history has bottomed out and is rebounding with the U.S. housing market. Buyers are snapping up properties, one-third of them paying cash, and the best deals are gone.
        So I did worry for my house. Please tell me the solution.

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  15. I can’t agree more with decluttering and cleaning your home in order to get it to sell quickly. I sold my home this year and looked at about 50 homes in the process of trying to figure out where to move. I could not believe the condition of some of the homes, they were down right disgusting!!! Cleaning and decluttering can go along way in the home selling process.

  16. Nowadays many people would like to sell their house fast to solve other things like repossession and mortage.

  17. Your information is very helpful ! I tried to sell my home for years and when i did i found a very easy way to do it but it was too late already :D

  18. Nowadays, House remodeling is also a better way to sell your house quickly. It will help you to get profit while selling your house. A good visually appealing house attract buyers. So, it is a good point to add here..

    How to sell a house quickly

  19. Very informative. This is exactly what is missing from the market. Home owners that take charge. Following everything mentioned in this article will increase your chances of selling quickly.

    Side Note- If you want to sell quickly, you need to attract a large amount of buyers. Right? To attract a large amount of buyers your home needs the most value in your area. To accomplish this research your local market and find out exactly who you are competing with. Then use those houses to leverage the improvements you will need to surpass them in value.

  20. Imagine your a potential buyer. You pull up to a house for sale and notice the dingy black streaking on the roof shingles. You automatically think, oh man how long will it be before I have to put out for a new roof. As a seller it’s critical to realize how much a clean roof effects curb appeal. Many roof cleaning companies can shine up the shingles and remove the roof algae. Look into it guys.

  21. I have a new job that I’m starting in a few months, so I need to sell my house and settle into a new house as quickly as possible. It seems as though I may need to hire a real estate agent. I need to find buyers quickly, so it seems as though a real estate agent might know how to find potential buyers. There are a number of things in my home that need to be fixed, so I could use a realtor to help me find buyers who would be willing to buy a house that needs a few repairs.

  22. I think your recommendations are excellent.Your tips will surely help home owners to sell their house.

  23. I was luckily able to sell my home through a property buying business. They bought it from me at market value in only 7 days, so I’m pretty happy about it

  24. Do you consider cash house buyers/investors an effective way to sell a house quickly? I know these companies often get a bad rap, but we close on properties in less than 2 weeks.

  25. I totally agree on making the house clean and fixing damages on the house, since staging is important in selling your house, you can also list your house on investor sites like brandonbuysdallas.com to sell your house quickly since the buyer will come to you instead of waiting for them, this is useful for people who dont want to work with a realtor, thanks for sharing this tips!!

  26. You really do need to be considerate when you’re trying to sell your house. As the article points out, one thing you will want to look into doing is fixing any of the small problems you find. That way potential buyers won’t have to worry about them or bring them up when buying the home.

  27. I really like your point about how cleaning your house can help buyers project themselves living in a nice, spotless house. My wife and I are currently considering selling our current property since we think it’s too big for a family of four. We’ll be sure to hire a professional home stager that can help us clean out the rubble and sell our house quickly.

  28. I never knew that many real estate agents are willing to provide free real estate assessments. I am selling my home this year. Thanks for the tips on selling your home quick.

  29. Thanks for pointing out how cleaning your house will help your buyer imagine themselves moving into a perfectly clean home. My wife and I have decided to sell our property so that we can move to a bigger home next year. It certainly looks like we have to call on a professional cleaning service that can help us make the space as spotless as possible.

  30. I like that you mentioned getting as much maintenance done as you can in preparation. Nobody wants to move in and have a lot of things to fix. Getting it done early can improve your chances of selling quickly.

  31. I want to get my house sold as quickly as possible. It makes sense that getting a professional to help me out would be beneficial! I’ll see if I can find any experts that I can get along with.

  32. Your information is very helpful ! I tried to sell my home for years and when i did i found a very easy way to do it but it was too late already :D

  33. I have been trying to sell my home for a while now. I think that it’s a great idea to work on decluttering my home and keeping it a little bit cleaner. Maybe I will bring in a third party cleaner to ensure that my home is as clean as possible.

  34. My aunt and uncle are thinking about selling their home and moving into a new one. They want to make sure that they are doing everything in their power to quickly get it off the market. Making sure that it is being cleaned and getting cleaned will help them with this a lot.

  35. Your advice about calling an expert for suggestions is very helpful in terms of finding effective ways to sell your house. My mom is planning to sell our old house for cash, and she doesn’t know where to begin. I will advise her about the important tips that you mentioned in your article. I hope this will help her.

  36. I like how you said that most agents are not professional stagers, but most good agents either have great contacts or have the experiences to support educated opinions about improving the show-readiness and marketability of your home. I am looking for a real estate agent to sell my home. Thank you for the tips on what sellers should ask real estate agents.

  37. I’m trying to get my home sold, but I’m not sure how to do it. It makes sense that relying on a professional for advice could be a good idea! I’ll be sure to find a real estate agent to help me out with this. They would be able to ensure that the house gets sold quickly.

  38. It’s true that in selling your house, it’s best to call experts to advise for them to give the best techniques and strategies to make it more marketable. My sister is planning to sell her house because she will be moving abroad. I will advise her to consult a real estate agent’s advice to help her market her house better.

  39. My brother is planning to live with my parents and sell his home right away. It was explained here that it will be best to get expert advice to get offers on his home right away. Moreover, it’s recommended to hire professionals when planning to sell his home fast.

  40. That’s a good idea to declutter your house to make it sell faster. I would think that would make it look bigger and more open, which potential buyers would like. I’ll have to talk to my real estate agent to see what I should remove if I decide to sell my house.

  41. I’m glad you pointed out that a real estate agent will have the power and ability to get you the highest possible price for your home. My brother and I need to sell our home grandparent’s home, so I’ve been researching the benefits of working with an agent when selling. We definitely want to get the best possible price, so I think we’ll take your advice and find a real estate agent to work with!

  42. I like how you said that real estate agents want you to sell your house fast. When I was moving into my current house, I wanted the process to go as fast as it could. It’s good to know that they also want that.

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