What You Need to Know
What are the pros and cons of selling a home as-is? You may have thought about this question if you’re planning on selling a home.
Sometimes when you are selling a house that has some issues, selling it “as is” may seem like the most straightforward course of action.
Most homeowners assume that selling a house as-is means they will not have to make any repairs to the property (which is true) and that selling as-is will be practical and involve the least amount of stress (which may be far from true).
Before you decide to sell your house as-is, you should know what marketing as-is entails.
There are some significant downsides to selling as-is. Once you understand your options, you may decide that there are better ways to sell your home that will lead to outcomes you can be delighted with.
What Selling As-Is Means
To sell an as-is house means that you are selling the property in its current state, understanding that no repairs will be made and that the home will come with all its present faults and issues.
“As is” actually has a legal definition, and the buyer will probably have to sign paperwork indicating that they understand the exact terms of the transaction.
When you buy a home “as is,” it’s typically spelled out in the purchase and sale agreement.
Keep in mind that technically all houses are sold as-is. A seller is never legally required to repair or modify their property for a buyer. You can’t force a seller to change its current condition.
What Selling a House As-Is Does Not Mean
Unfortunately, many homeowners are under the mistaken impression that selling as-is relieves them from all the general obligations that come with selling a home. They imagine that they can unload the property for whatever price they can get while avoiding the need to talk about or disclose any issues with the house.
Selling as is does not relieve you from your legal obligation to answer questions honestly concerning the existing problems with the home per your state’s rules.
In Massachusetts, sellers do not have to disclose defects, but they have to answer questions honestly about the home’s condition. Non-disclosure is known in real estate circles as “Caveat Emptor” or “let the buyer beware.” The only real estate disclosure a seller must make is their knowledge of the presence of lead paint.
Sellers in Massachusetts are also not allowed to hide defects intentionally. Even when you are selling as-is, you have to obey these rules. Sellers have to avoid misrepresentations of fact or failing to respond truthfully to a specific question from a buyer.
However, home sellers should understand that real estate agents are held to a higher standard when disclosing a home’s defects.
Realtors being held to higher standards is due to the Consumer Protection Act, also known as Chapter 93A.
Realtors, therefore, must disclose any fact that could influence the buyer not to enter into a real estate transaction.
For example, if a real estate agent knows that the seller’s basement floods every spring, this is something a Realtor has to disclose!
Examples of Things a Real Estate Agent Must Disclose to Home Buyers
Here are some other examples of issues a real estate agent must disclose to prospective buyers:
- Evidence of a structural defect like a significant crack in the foundation.
- The appearance of mold, either past or present, in the home.
- Termite damage.
- The roof has leaked, or a prior ice dam caused damage.
- The radon levels in the home are higher than the acceptable EPA limit.
- Major plumbing or electrical issues.
- A significant external issue such as obnoxious noise levels.
- A known legal issue such as a cloud on the title or the property is a short sale.
Unoccupied Homes Can Be More Problematic
Not all problems with a home are evident. Real Estate agents do, however, have a duty to disclose if they discover some problem or the owner lets them know.
Over the years, while selling property in Metrowest, Massachusetts, there have been times when a seller has asked to sell as-is because they have never occupied the home and therefore have limited knowledge of its condition.
Real Estate agents should be cautious in this situation. Again, while a seller is not required to disclose potential problems, real estate agents must disclose.
Most sellers are honest and voluntarily provide real estate agents with any known issues they are aware of. However, in the case of never occupying a home, this is much harder to do.
Instances where sellers have never occupied a home could include an estate sale or a fix and flip. The latter of which the seller probably could know more than the former.
Most real estate companies ask sellers they are representing to fill out a Sellers Statement of Property Condition document. This report outlines what an owner knows and doesn’t know about their home. It allows agents to represent a property more accurately.
Completing this form also lowers a real estate company’s errors and omission insurance.
The Problems With Selling a House As-Is
You might be thinking to yourself, what on earth could be the issue from a buyer’s perspective on purchasing a home as-is. Unfortunately, there is a negative connotation with buying a home as-is.
These are the potential problems with selling a home as-is. Many disadvantages should be considered before selling a home as-is.
1. Buyers Will Perceive Your Home Negatively.
With most things in life, perception becomes a reality.
If you are selling as-is, you can bet that most buyers will view your home negatively.
They may still try to purchase it, but the moment they see the as-is, they will assume something seriously wrong with the property – something bad enough that you can’t afford to fix it or that it is not fixable.
2. Buyers Will Low-Ball You.
Under the assumption that your home has severe defects, the buyer will bargain with you like you are desperate.
You can expect offers that are probably less than what you want or what your home is worth. Lowball offers are far more common with houses sold as-is.
3. You Will Have to Work Harder to Demonstrate Why Your House is Worth The Asking Price.
You or your Realtor will have an uphill battle to demonstrate to potential buyers that your home is worth a fair price. Because buyers will be coming into the real estate transaction with so much negative baggage, it will be challenging to break through the assumptions to show plenty of reasons why your home is desirable.
Keep in mind that there may be a trust issue on the buyer’s part as to why you are selling your home “as is.” Buyers may automatically assume you are trying to hide something.
4. You Will Attract Fewer Buyers.
Because your listing says as-is upfront, you will drive away a lot of potential buyers. Even if you are in a position where you want to put minimum effort or money into the home to make a sale, you could still benefit from avoiding the as-is designation in the listing.
Let buyers come and make offers, see how you feel, and go ahead and turn down requests to make repairs if you think it is the right choice. If your home doesn’t need major repairs, it would be more important not to market this way.
Reasons To Sell a House As-Is
Most homeowners should avoid starting off a sale with as-is. However, there are certain situations where selling as-is is desirable. In these cases, you will need to know how to sell a home as-is. These reasons include:
1. You Really Cannot Afford to Make Any Repairs.
You may be in a financial situation where any repairs are just not feasible. If the property has defects and you have no way to repair them, you may have no other choice but to sell it as-is.
However, try to keep an open mind and talk to your Realtor before making a hard decision on selling as-is.
Your Realtor may be able to develop some creative solutions that will allow you to avoid selling as-is, or at least avoid putting it in your listing right from the beginning.
2. You Really Cannot Handle The Stress of a Home Sale.
Sometimes homeowners find themselves in situations where they have to sell their homes, but they can genuinely not deal with the stress that a drawn-out sales process entails.
If you are seriously ill or otherwise incapacitated and do not believe you can deal with the selling process, you may decide that selling as-is makes the most sense.
Again, explore all your options before deciding on selling as-is.
If you can get help from friends or family, or if your Realtor offers to take care of all the stressful aspects, you can probably get a better price for your home if you avoid selling as-is.
3. Financial Distress.
Sometimes an owner will find th
emselves in severe financial distress and needs to sell their home immediately in as-is condition. One viable option in this scenario is contacting an investment company like We Buy Ugly Houses or another one like them.
These companies are perfect for those distressed sellers who need an immediate sale.
Real Estate investors like We Buy Ugly Houses usually pay cash and purchase in as-is, where-is conditions. The downside, of course, is that these kinds of home flipping companies will be looking to purchase your home for pennies on the dollar.
Do not expect them to pay anywhere close to the market value. The upside is that they are specifically not looking for move-in-ready homes.
Having a cash buyer with no typical real estate contingencies relieves much of the stress of selling a home.
A cash offer allows real estate transactions to be sped up substantially.
4. The Property Cannot Be Financed
There are some circumstances where a mortgage lender will not be able to finance a property due to its condition. For some fixer-upper homes, a buyer will need to get a home improvement loan to change the existing condition.
For example, if the property needs a new roof and it’s readily apparent. In this circumstance, the perfect kind of loan would be an FHA 203k renovation loan.
This mortgage allows all of the cost of repairs to be rolled into one mortgage. It is the perfect loan product for a home in need of repair. You’ll need to provide the lender with cost estimates to use this type of financing.
Home Inspections Bring More Negotiations
Another time selling “as is” comes up is after an offer is received but before the buyer’s home inspection.
Sometimes in a home sale, the negotiation between a buyer and seller can be arduous. From a seller’s perspective, the thought process is “I just gave the buyer an incredible deal.”
Over the years, many sellers have told me during the last round of negotiating an offer to say to the buyer’s agent that there will be no further seller concessions after the home inspection.
In other words, let the buyer know they are buying the home “as is,” and I am not coming down another dime on the price or making any repairs for any defects discovered.
Buyers will often ask the seller to pay their closing costs to use that money to pay for home improvements.
Many sellers who have sold homes in the past understand that a home inspection can be a second round of negotiations. Sellers try to head off these unreasonable home inspection requests before they happen.
Real Estate Market Conditions Can Influence Selling a Property As-Is
The current real estate market can significantly impact whether selling a house as-is makes sense.
Most real estate professionals will tell you that you will be required to do less when it’s a hot seller’s market.
Homes are going under contract with very few days on the market. Many home buyers are doing bizarre things like waiving their right to a home inspection.
If there are no properties to purchase, the condition of your home will become less critical. Minor repairs will become far more acceptable.
You will get a higher price with the expectation of doing less or nothing at all.
In a buyer’s market, home purchasers will be far less forgiving. That doesn’t mean you can’t sell as-is.
It just means a home’s condition becomes far more vital. Don’t expect to get top dollar when your home is in poor condition.
The Compromise on Selling a House As Is
There are times when a seller has a little bit of money to invest into their property before listing it for sale. In this circumstance, it may make sense to make a few improvements before listing for sale.
For example, nothing goes further when selling a home than a fresh coat of paint. If you have rooms that need painting or wallpaper that should be removed, doing so can be one of the highest returning investments.
Selling as is when you can afford to compromise a bit may make some sense. This is something you should discuss with your real estate agent. Your agent should also be able to point out alternatives.
Selling as is when you can afford to compromise a bit may make some sense. This is something you should discuss with your real estate agent. Your agent should also be able to point out other things that should be fixed before putting the home up for sale.
Pricing Properly is Key When Selling a House As Is
Pricing a home properly is a skill and an art. Unfortunately, some real estate agents do a horrible job pricing a home correctly. Putting the correct price tag on a home is even more complicated when selling a home as-is.
Many Realtors are not skilled at estimating repairs and improvements that are necessary. Given this, lots of homes end up being overpriced when selling as-is.
An agent doing a comparative market analysis must use other like properties. The first step is picking comparable sales that match the subject property’s condition. Significant renovations, necessary repairs, and repair costs must be considered.
The fair market value will not be accurate without considering the needed repairs.
Before hiring them, look at the agent’s list price to sale price ratio and average days on market statistics. It would be good to specifically ask for this information on any homes they have sold as-is!
Selling a House As Is By Owner
To try to sell a home as-is without a Realtor can be very challenging. The listing price will be even harder for a layperson to determine.
Those who sell by owner often get less money than those selling with an agent, even considering not paying a commission. If you want the best price having your home on the open market is the right way to achieve that goal.
Talk To Your Realtor
Every home sale involves a unique property and a unique seller(s) with specific needs, goals, and limitations. You may need to consider selling as-is. Or, you may need a sales plan that caters to your particular situation.
The best way to determine your options is to speak to your Realtor. They can look over your specific home, and you can explain what you want/need. Then, your real estate can help to guide you through the steps of selling your home on your terms.
When someone asks me whethe
r selling their house as-is would be recommended, the answer is almost always no. The negatives of marketing this way far outweigh the positives.
The best option is to put your home on the market without advertising it as sold as-is. It is in your best interest to keep that language out of the multiple listing service or other marketing material.
Additional Helpful Home Selling Articles
Use these additional resources to make intelligent decisions whether you are selling as-is or on your own.
About the Author: The above Real Estate information on selling a house as is was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for 35+ Years.
Are you thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service Real Estate Sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton, and Uxbridge MA.