There are many ways to make money in real estate: flipping houses, renting them out, becoming a wholesaler, and investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs), just to name a few. No matter which method you choose, you'll need a solid exit plan. If selling a home -- maybe because it's reached a level of appreciation attractive to you -- is part of your exit plan, you'll want to sell fast and for maximum profit.
Use a real estate agent
The most common method of selling a home fast is to use a real estate agent. Good agents know how to market a home to generate the most interest, negotiate the best deal, and get you to the closing table in the most seamless manner possible. They often can sell your home before even listing it by using their network.
But with most good things, there can be downsides, and using an agent is no different. Agents are expensive, and sellers typically pay agent fees: their own agent's commission and the buyer's agent's commission. This typically ranges from 4% to 8% of the home's sale price. So you might sell quickly by using a real estate agent, but the process may not be cheap.
Sell the home yourself
Called a for sale by owner or FSBO transaction, you can sell your house to a homebuyer without using an agent, saving yourself that 4% to 8% agent commission. But, and there are a lot of "buts" to selling FSBO, unless you sell to someone who's also not using a real estate agent, you'll most likely need to pay the buyer's agent, so you'll still be paying a commission. True, it would be only half of what you'd pay if you used a seller's agent too, but there are other costs involved with FSBO sales. Here are a couple to consider.
Taking longer to sell
It might take you longer to sell if you aren't familiar with the selling process, which might mean extra mortgage payments and other carrying costs, such as property taxes and utilities, which you might need to factor in if the house takes longer to sell.
Not getting top dollar
If you sell to a cash investor or an iBuyer like Zillow (NASDAQ: ZG) (NASDAQ: Z) or Opendoor, expect to sell for less than you would if you sold to the ultimate owner of the home.
Know how to price the home
You can sell your house fast by pricing it low, but as a real estate investor, your goal is also to make the most money. You don't want to leave money on the table just to sell quickly. By performing a comparative market analysis, a real estate agent can determine the market value of the home and the best asking price to list your home, but you can do this as well. Just search online for comparable homes, known as comps. Look for recently (within six months) sold homes comparable to yours in your neighborhood.
You should also determine today's housing market -- buyer's or seller's -- because if you want to sell investment property for a profit, you should know the real estate market. The best time to sell is during a seller's market, where demand is high and supply is low. That way, you'd be in the driver's seat and can typically fetch more for a home than you probably could during a buyer's market, where supply is high and demand is low.
Make necessary repairs
It'll cost you money to make repairs to a home you plan to sell. But if you want to sell fast and for top dollar, you'll typically need to make the repairs yourself. You'll usually spend less money if you make the repairs than if an inspection shows a prospective buyer what needs to be done. A potential buyer usually charges you for their time as well as the repair. So get the house in top shape, put on a fresh coat of paint, if needed, make sure it has good curb appeal, and stage it well. Spending some money upfront usually pays off with a better offer in the end.
Save on taxes
When you sell a rental property, you're subject to capital gains taxes. For 2020, long-term capital gains tax is 15% for most people; this depends on your income. You can get around this in several ways. Your accountant can help guide you.
Some methods include the following:
- Tax-loss harvesting: If you've lost money on another investment, you can use that loss to offset gains made on the sale of the rental property.
- 1031 exchange: You can defer paying capital gains if you buy another income-producing property.
- Make your rental a primary residence: If you own a rental property for at least five years and live in it for at least two years, you can exclude the first $250,000 of the sale price (or $500,000 if you're married and file a joint tax return).
The Millionacres bottom line
Part of a real estate investor's strategy for success is knowing when to sell. Beyond that, it's knowing how to get a quick sale for the best offer possible. Once you understand that, you should be golden.