Today, the success of your home sale hinges on your ability to sell your home online. Whether you sell your house to a cash buyer like an iBuyer or list your home on the market, you’ll encounter digital processes at almost every phase of the sale.
Your home’s online presence is particularly crucial if you’re selling it on the market. According to the National Association of Realtors, 52% of buyers found their dream home online — not by driving through target neighborhoods, flipping through brochures, or contacting an agent for leads. You have just eight seconds — the average attention span online — to grab a buyer’s attention.
Don’t worry: We’ll teach you how to do it. Our guide to sell your house online covers three options:
- Selling your home to a direct buyer
- Selling your home with a real estate agent
- Selling For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
For added insight, we spoke with top agent Cyndie Gawain of Dallas, TX. Her expertise in digital marketing enables her to sell homes 58% faster than local agents.
1. Sell your house online instantly to a direct buyer
A direct buyer isn’t just one type of buyer. Some companies purchase homes as-is for well below market price. While others, like iBuyers, buy well-maintained homes for just slightly below market value. Direct buyers are a great option for homeowners who need to sell their homes fast and are OK with taking a price cut to do it.
Unlike traditional buyers, many direct buyers will purchase your home without ever stepping foot inside. They use local property data to determine your home’s value and inform their offer. They may also ask for photos of your property to assess the condition.
Cash buyers care the most about your home’s main structures and features. They’re less concerned with aesthetic updates like painted cabinetry or new floor tiles since they can easily make these themselves after the purchase. Some direct-buyers prefer to purchase properties as-is for below market value and flip them for a higher profit margin.
But don’t put away the cleaning supplies and extra throw pillows just yet. Considering that direct buyers may not see your home in person, it’s more important than ever that your listing photos convey the property’s possibilities. If they see a shoddy landscaping job or fading paint trim, it tells a story (false or not) about the potential mess inside.
Unlike listing photos that show all the primping and staging to fully utilize a room or other interior or exterior space in a home, what you want the images to capture is the opportunity. If a room has high ceilings or natural light, make sure the photos show this off. Include photos of high-ticket items like a new roof, updated electrical, or a renovated kitchen with accompanying text providing details.
If you’re unsure how to find the best cash buyer or an iBuyer to sell your home to, check out HomeLight’s Simple Sale Platform. Plug in your basic property details, and we’ll connect you with the highest offer from our network of pre-approved cash buyers. Some users report receiving an offer within days after posting their home’s information.
- You can sell your home 100% online. Some cash buyers will purchase your home without ever having stepped foot inside.
- Some direct buyers do not conduct a home inspection.
- The process is faster and more convenient than selling your home on the market.
- Direct buyers want a deal so they can turn around and sell your house for more money than their purchase price. For instance, Collateral Analytics reveals that iBuyers charge fees between 13% to 15% of a home’s sale price; these fees are significantly higher than the average real estate agent of 5.8%.
- There is little room for negotiation when working with a direct buyer.
2. Sell your house online with a real estate agent
If you plan to go the traditional route and list your home on the MLS with the help of an agent, you’ll be in the large majority of sellers. NAR reports that 91% of sellers listed their home on MLS, and 89% of sellers worked with an agent in 2020. Most buyers discover their dream home on MLS and 64% of Realtors® call the MLS their top tool.
“There’s a lot of advantages to using an agent besides ‘They’ll put it on MLS,’” comments Gawain. A real estate agent’s expertise in pricing, marketing, networking, and negotiating helps you sell your home for the most money possible —significantly more than you’d make with the other options to sell your house online.
But don’t just hire any agent. HomeLight’s research reveals that the top 5% of real estate agents sell homes for 10% more than the average agent. To find a top agent in your area, share your home details on our Agent Finder. We’ll crunch data to match you with the best three real estate agents for your home sale based on their outstanding transaction stats and client reviews.
The rise of contactless technology
Today, a greater portion of the home sale process takes place online than ever before. During the COVID-19 pandemic, agents and homebuyers, and sellers alike were forced to adopt innovative contactless procedures like virtual showings and digital-closing tools.
All signs point to this shift remaining the new normal. Sight-unseen purchases are at an all-time high, according to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Q2 2020 report. 46% of agents confirm that live virtual open houses and 3D tours have replaced video tours as the number-one tool for sight-unseen deals. In a pinch, Gawain will host a Facebook Live tour and include helpful ideas about how to use a listing’s atypical spaces to assuage buyer’s concerns. She’s also published video tours on YouTube to send to interested buyers.
Stunning photos sell your home online
Photos are the number-one way to sell your house online. 89% of buyers found photos very useful in their housing search. Listing photos that entice buyers to put in an offer is like gold to any seller.
A listing’s photos should walk a fine line between being “great pictures by a commercial photographer” and “not so professional it feels like a sales job,” says Gawain. She always requests that the photographer capture twilight shots for added drama. When it comes to 3D tours, Gawain adds warmth to the interior with a crackling fire in the fireplace — a far more dimensional image than a stagnant mantel, right.
Don’t forget to ensure your listing is mobile-friendly and not just stunning on a laptop or desktop computer. Most buyers peruse listings on a mobile device (smartphone, tablet, or iPad): 81% of older Millennials, 80% of younger Millennials, 78% of Generation X, and 68% of younger Boomers found their home this way.
- Your agent runs point on prepping your home for the market, pricing, marketing, and negotiating to help you sell your home for the most money possible. Statistically, you’ll likely sell your home for more money with an agent than you would selling your home to a direct buyer or selling your home on the market without an agent.
- A digitally-savvy agent can help you conduct an almost entirely contactless transaction.
- There’s no need to familiarize yourself with using digital tools. A well-versed agent determines which options are the best fit for showing your home.
- Selling your home online on the market takes longer than selling online to a direct buyer for cash. In 2020, the average home sale took around 70 days from listing to closing.
- It takes more effort to sell your home on the market than to sell to a direct buyer. You’ll need to prep your home with staging, landscaping, and light renovations, coordinate in-person or virtual showings with buyers, and potentially tend to home repairs the inspection deems necessary.
- You’ll pay around 6% commission that the listing agent and buyer’s agent will split. For example, 6% commission on a $200,000 house is $12,000. However, note that even accounting for commission, you’ll still net more than you would selling FSBO or to a direct-buyer.
3. Sell your house online For Sale By Owner
If you’re sitting on a hot property in a hot market, you may consider selling your house online FSBO to save on real estate agent commission.
FSBO is the road less traveled; only 6% of sellers sold their homes For Sale By Owner in 2020. Some, however, like having total control of the transaction. As a FSBO seller, you’re 100% responsible for pricing, staging, marketing, open houses and showings, negotiating, and managing closing documents.
You can still list on the MLS
The average cost to publish your home’s listing on the MLS with a flat-flee MLS listing service runs between $100 and $500. You can also post your listing on FSBO listing websites to increase your reach.
You’re in charge of marketing
Without the help of a real estate agent, you’re responsible for spreading the word about your home sale. You’ll need to take on or hire out for professional photography, virtual tours, paid ads, social media, and physical signage.
If you prefer to hire someone to run point on these tasks, reach out to a professional marketing, communications, or advertising organization (such as American Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of America, or Professional Photographers of America). Just be mindful of costs. These professionals may charge a high fee, even if they have no experience in marketing properties.
- You’ll pay out-of-pocket for marketing and other services that are normally included in a real estate agent’s commission.
- FSBO is time-consuming. Coordinating showings with buyers will eat into your leisure time, especially on weekends and weeknights when most people like to walk through homes.
- Statistically, you’re likely to sell your home for less money using FSBO. According to NAR, FSBO homes sold for a median price of $217,900 in 2020, compared to the median price of $242,300 of agent-assisted sales. An independent study by Black Knight backs this up; the data provider found that FSBO homes sell for 5.5% less, and in some cases, nearly 6% less than agent-assisted sales.
- If you sell without a real estate agent, the transaction’s legal responsibilities and risks are all yours.
Selling your home online has never been easier
Today’s home-sale process is tied to the internet. Whether you sell to a direct buyer or list your home on the market, a large portion of your home sale involves digital tools and online marketing. The key is to research your options before you begin your home sale journey to ensure the route you choose best meets your selling objectives.
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