Ah, the need for speed in a real estate deal – we’re quite familiar with it. From clients who’ve taken a job out of town with an impatient employer to the need to sell a deceased family member’s home, “Should I sell my house as-is” is a common question.

Many Alaskans start on a house by building out-of-pocket and never finish it.  That’s a classic Alaskan problem.  Life happens, and you need to sell…NOW! 

 

I looked at a house in Palmer AK a few months ago that the owner decided he needed to remodeling.  The problem was that he finished the first half of the remodeling project but not the second.  That is, he tore out everything but didn’t put anything back.  Then he decided to sell. 

Let’s take a look at some of the issues you should consider before trying to sell the house in as-is condition.

Price considerations

A recent study finds that most homebuyers – especially first-time buyers – want a home that they can move right into and hang up their toothbrush. And, they say they are willing to pay more for such a home.

Face it: many of the competing homes in your area will be closer to this condition than yours if you choose not to make improvements and/or repairs.  If you tore out your bathroom and are still using a bucket shower you will need to lower your price.

 

Unless your home is priced low enough to compensate the buyer for what he or she will need to spend to bring it to comparable condition, it will sit on the market.

So, if your budget can tolerate a very low listing price, you’ve passed the first challenge of trying to sell as-is. 

 

I have a rule of thumb that works in Alaska to determine an as-is price.  Find the value of the home in good condition, determine the cost of bringing the home up to that condition and double that number.  Subtract the second number from the finished home number…that’s your list price.

Lenders have their preferences too

Should you find a buyer who is using a government-backed loan program, such as the VA or FHA, the lender will have a thing or two to say about your home’s condition.

Typically, it’s “fix it or we won’t loan the money to the buyer.” You can almost guarantee this for problems of a health or safety nature.

Considering that the VA grants almost a half-million mortgages a year and the FHA is the preferred program for first-time buyers, that’s a lot of people to exclude from the buyer pool.  In fact in Palmer and Wasilla that take more than 1/2 the buyers.

The FHA-approved appraiser will be the one to determine what needs to be fixed before the home qualifies for an FHA-program buyer. Repairs listed as essential on his or her report are the ones to be most concerned about.

Even a conventional lender may balk at making a loan for your home if the repairs needed include  heating, roof or structural problems. Some will require that broken window glass be repaired and ask that any code violations in existence be remedied.

By the way, some home insurance companies are also asking for repairs before they will insure the home for the new owner.

Come up with a strategy

Again, it’s understandable that some fixes are just too expensive for some sellers to manage. For these, we can suggest a number of different renovation loans.  There are FHA, VA, Conventional, and AHFC renovation loans. Some work better in the Palmer area than others. Not all lenders do them and some do one and not the others so give us a call for guidance.

With these programs, the lendeer will wrap the cost of the home and the cost of rehab in one loan, so the buyer has only one payment a month. 

You’ll also want to consider how you’ll deal with the very low offers you’ll receive. The mere mention of the words “as-is” acts as a magnet to investors and flippers. Know the lowest price you’ll accept and remind yourself to keep your emotions in check and to not take lowball offers personally. 

Finally, despite the problems with the home, the one way you can help boost the price, even a small amount, is to ensure that it’s clean at all times.

If your home will be vacant, consider some inexpensive staging techniques to help buyers overcome the as-is aspect of the sale.

When a home is neat and tidy (both inside and out) it sends a subliminal message to potential buyers that someone does care about the home.