A Buyers & Sellers Guide to Selling a House As Is

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If you don’t have the money, time, effort, or simply the will to conduct some repairs in your home before putting it up for sale, you can list the house “as-is” and avoid the trouble of fixing it up. Selling a house “as-is” means selling it in its current condition without making any changes to it.

What You Should Know

  • Selling a house “as-is” means selling it in the current condition without making any repairs to it
  • A seller is still legally required to disclose any problems or issues with the house to the buyer even if they list it “as-is”
  • Sometimes, it is worth doing some repairs to the house to increase its value before listing it “as-is”
  • If you want to sell as soon as possible, consider selling to cash buyers or iBuyers
  • If you are considering purchasing a house as-is, make sure you look through the minimum lender requirements set by lenders
  • As a buyer, make sure you understand whether the whole house is being sold ‘as is’ or only certain parts of it

What does ‘as is’ mean in real estate?

Sold As-Is

Selling a house ‘as is’ means not making any repairs, improvements, or renovations to the house before the sale and simply selling it in the current condition that it is at. There are different reasons why sellers may choose to sell a house as-is. The main reason is that house repairs tend to be quite expensive and require funds that the seller may not have and thus chooses that they are better off getting a lower price for the house than investing in it. Another reason can be that the seller is looking to sell and move out of the place as soon as possible. Finally, an ‘as-is’ house listing can also be from a bank that takes ownership of the house when its owner passes away.

It is worth mentioning that listing a house ‘as is’ does not let you off the hook when it comes to disclosing what you know about the home to the buyer. You are still legally required to share the problems of the house that you are aware of.

How to sell a house as-is?

How to sell a house as is

To assure that you get a fair deal on the house and that you are aware of your house’s value, consider following these steps when listing your home:

  1. Hire a real estate agent with experience in as-is property listings

    A real estate agent who has experience with ‘as-is’ listings can help you put a fair price on your home. Buyers of ‘as is’ properties may try to take advantage of the label and use it to convince you that you won’t be able to sell the house higher than what they are offering. A listing agent can help to avoid these types of buyers and look for people who actually want to live in the house.

  2. List the property under the label ‘as is’ on MLS

    There is no way for the buyer to know that a property is being sold ‘as is’ unless it is put on the listing in the MLS database. This will also assist your real estate agent in finding buyer agents who are considering ‘as is’ properties for their clients.

  3. Conduct a pre-listing inspection

    By conducting a home inspection before listing the house, you will have a better idea of the defects that it has and you can put a price on the repairs. This will help you when getting into negotiations with buyers who try to make lowball offers. Moreover, by conducting a pre-listing inspection, you are able to offer more transparency to the buyer, who knowing the problems of the house beforehand, may make offers with no contingencies.

  4. Clean the house and conduct minor repairs

    Even though you are listing the home as-is to avoid the hassle of repairing it, thoroughly cleaning the house and conducting some minor repairs that take a little time and money can make a huge difference in the eyes of the buyers who come to look at the house. It is important to make a good first impression.

  5. Identify big-ticket items that may be non-negotiable

    Major problems such as those in a house’s foundation, roof, or electrical system that require a lot of funds from the buyer, may scare off some potential buyers that would otherwise be interested in the property. It is true that this will require a lot of time and money from you, however, they may ultimately be a deal-breaker for most buyers. On the other hand, you can avoid spending money on the cosmetics of the house such as re-modeling of the kitchen and bathroom.

  6. Disclose any defects the house has

    As mentioned earlier, the seller still has a legal obligation to disclose to the buyer what they know about the house and its defects. Simply because you listed your property ‘as is’ does not mean that the buyer is not entitled to know about the problems of the property and should just wait to find them out on their own.

  7. Charge a fair price on the house

    After conducting a pre-listing inspection, you will have a rough idea of how much it will cost the buyer to repair the house. This can provide you with a basis for the price you will charge on the house. Moreover, your listing agent can help you compare your house to what other houses that are listed as-is are being sold in the market for.

Other Alternatives of Selling your Home As-Is

Option 1: Sell to a cash buyer

Selling to a cash buyer means that you can skip the step of finding a real estate agent and listing your property on MLS. When you sell to a cash buyer, you are selling your house off market. Investors who purchase properties with the intention of repairing them and selling for a profit are one of the potential buyers for a home sold as-is and they may have the necessary funds to pay in cash for it. As a seller, this is the simplest and fastest way to sell your home since the buyer is not worried about the condition of your home. However, there are some challenges that selling to a cash buyer presents. These include:

Looking for a cash buyer

Cash buyers include real estate companies, investors, or house flippers. These groups typically do not purchase houses on the market, so in this case it is you who should search for them. There is a number of ways that you can find a cash buyer:

  • Craigslist

    Some of the property listings advertised on Craigslist are from cash buyers. If these cash buyers are real estate investors or house flippers, there is a good probability that they may soon be interested to purchase a property. You can get the contact information of these sellers and reach out to them to find out if they’d be interested to purchase your property as is.

  • Attend Real Estate Auctions

    This is a place that has a lot of potential for networking and finding cash buyers. Many investors attend real estate auctions to look for their next deal. By attending these auctions and introducing yourself to these investors, you are taking your first step of finding a potential cash buyer. Even if they are not interested in your property, don’t be discouraged, they may know someone who is.

  • Utilize MLS

    If you are working with a real estate agent, you can ask them to provide you with some valuable information from the MLS. This can include a list of recent all-cash transactions. Once you have the list, you can scan through what the buyers have been looking for. After identifying individuals who you think would be interested in your home, you can reach out to them and request for a cash offer.

  • Public Records

    Public records can give you information about the sale of properties, such as whether there are liens on a property. Homes that are bought using a mortgage will have a lien from the lender that is recorded in the public record. You want to look for properties that do not have liens, these are typically the ones bought by cash buyers. However, depending on where you live and the laws of the state, access to this information can be limited.

Low offer price

Real estate investors may present you with a good deal at first to get you interested and invested in the deal. Since they are not as interested in the condition of the house, this makes their offer even more attractive. However, once the home inspection is conducted and the repairs needed are confirmed, the investors may not go through with their initial offer and choose to offer a lower price, typically below market value. While you can still walk away from the deal, you will have to start your search for a buyer from the beginning.

Option 2: Sell to an iBuyer

iBuyer, which stands for instant buyer, is a real estate company that estimates the value of your house by using technology. iBuyers make cash offers on a house which are typically close to the fair market value of the home. By selling to an iBuyer, you can save time and skip the typical steps involved in listing your home on the market.

Similar to cash buyers, iBuyers can also change their initial offer price after the home inspection. Moreover, iBuyers charge hefty service fees for the service they provide. This service fee can range from 5% to 13% of the sale price, a range which is distinctively higher than the real estate commission you would pay to a real estate agent.

Option 3: For-sale-by-owner (FSBO)

By listing the home on your own, you will have to take on most of the responsibilities that a real estate agent usually handles. These will include pricing your home, listing it, marketing it, negotiating with potential clients and more. You may think that by listing the home on your own, you are saving the commission you would pay the real estate agent, however, the variety of services that they provide usually proves to be worth it.

MLSCash BuyeriBuyerFSBO
Real Estate Commission5-6%None (if no real estate agents are used)None2-3% (the buyer agent)
Closing costs1-2%None1-2%1-2%
Other feesCleaning, staging, marketing, seller creditNone5% - 13% of sale price (iBuyer service fees)Cleaning, seller credit
Time to sell~60 DaysInstantlyInstantly~90 Days
Sale PriceMarket ValueBelow market valueAt or below market valueAt or below market value

Should you sell a house as-is?

Selling a house as-is provides a number of pros and cons for the sellers. Some of these include:

Pros

Fewer costs - By selling a house as-is, you will be able to avoid the costly repairs and renovations that would typically be required by buyers who are looking at regular property listings. Instead, you can simply work on how much the home is currently worth and not worry about investing more money into it to achieve a higher sale price.

Quicker sale - A category of buyers who are interested in purchasing a property as-is are private investors, who look to purchase houses at a low price and sell them for more after making the necessary repairs. Some of these investors have the financial means to pay in cash which means that they do not require financing by lenders. This saves a lot of time in the process of selling a house. Moreover, you will save the time you would need to conduct the repairs if you were the one handling them. By selling as-is, the buyer can conduct these repairs after having moved in.

Cons

A smaller pool of potential buyers - An as-is listing can scare off some buyers who would have otherwise been interested in the house. This happens because buyers may sometimes associate the ‘as is’ label with an old creaky house. Also, buyers may not be willing to deal with the hassle of repairing their homes after they move in and would rather pay a higher price for a home that does not need repairs.

Buyers can still negotiate for repairs - Just because a home is listed as ‘as is’ does not mean that the buyer will not try to negotiate with the seller so they can perform and pay for some of the repairs needed.

Lower Price - By selling the home in its current condition, the seller loses on the opportunity to increase the value of the home by conducting repairs and selling it at a higher price. Some buyers may offer even lower prices than the home’s fair value in its current condition. This is where a real estate agent comes in. The agent can help the seller avoid these types of offers that pressure the seller to sell low.

ProsCons
  • Fewer costs
  • Quicker sale
  • Smaller pool of potential buyers
  • Buyers can still negotiate for repairs
  • Lower price

Potential Buyers

Some real estate investors follow a strategy where they buy cheap homes that need repairing, with the intention of fixing them and selling them at a higher price for a profit. These types of investors are an important category of potential buyers in the market of homes sold as-is because they sometimes also have the financial means to pay in cash. This means that they do not need financing from lenders, which shortens the time the sale process will take.

Other potential buyers are those who are looking to renovate a house according to their own preferences. However, it’s important to note that while these buyers may overlook the cosmetic aspect of the home, they may not be willing to accept major problems with the house’s structure, foundation, plumbing, electrical system, etc.

Finally, some people such as developers may be more interested in the land where the property is located than the home itself. For them, the condition of the house usually does not matter, since they may tear the home down and build it again from the start.

What to Consider When Buying a House As-Is

Minimum Property Requirements

It is important to note that if you are looking to get financing for a home sold as-is, the home must meet some minimum property requirements (MPR) set by the lender. The lender may not lend you money if the home is under unlivable conditions. Below, we will explore these requirements for different loans.

Conventional Loans – These loans are not backed by the federal government. Most conventional loans are bought by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, and they must meet the criteria set by these government-sponsored agencies. In order to give out a conventional loan for a home sold ‘as-is’, the property must require only minor repairs such as missing handrails, worn floor finishes, missing light fixtures, etc.

FHA Loans – These are non-conventional loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration. For a property to qualify for an FHA loan, it must meet certain standards set by HUD related to the safety, soundness and security of the occupants and the property. FHA requires mortgagees to use judgement in determining if the condition of a property poses a health and safety hazard to its occupants and jeopardizes the soundness and structural integrity of the property. Some of these requirements include:

  • Roofing must keep moisture out
  • The electrical box should not have any frayed or exposed wires
  • The water heater must meet local building codes
  • Property must provide safe and adequate access for pedestrians and vehicles

VA Loans – These loans are non-conventional loans backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Similar to FHA loans, to qualify for a VA loan, the property must meet the established Minimum Property Requirements set by the VA to protect the interests of Veterans, lenders, servicers, and VA. The MPRs of VA loans are set to ensure that the properties are safe, structurally sound and sanitary. Some of these requirements include:

  • The property must have a continuous supply of safe and potable water for drinking, bathing, showering and sanitary uses.
  • Mechanical systems must be safe to operate and protected from destructive elements.
  • Heating must be permanently installed and maintain a temperature of at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit in areas with plumbing.

USDA Loans – USDA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and are given to eligible individuals living in rural areas. Some of the MPRs of USDA loans include:

  • No cracks in the foundation
  • Walls both inside and outside must be in good condition
  • Exterior doors must be properly in place and be working
  • Electrical and plumbing systems must be in good working condition with no visible issues
How to sell a house as is

Home Inspection

If you are considering purchasing a home as is, a home inspection is a must. The home inspection will let you know of everything that is wrong with the property and from there you can evaluate whether purchasing it is worth it. The home inspection can give you a rough estimate of the cost of the needed repairs and be of use to you when negotiating the price of the house. It is a major red flag, if the seller refuses to let you conduct a home inspection on the property since it typically means that there is indeed something seriously wrong with the property.

Disclosures

The seller is legally required to disclose any information and defects of the house that they are aware of. Disclosure laws may differ from state to state, so it may be useful to research them if you are in the process of purchasing a home as-is. If the seller fails to disclose any of this information required by the law, you may be able to sue them for damages and repair costs. Currently, there is only one federal disclosure law related to lead paint. Under the law, the seller is required to tell you whether the house has ever had lead paint, if it was built before 1978.

Entire Home or Certain Parts

It is possible that the seller is not selling the entire house as-is, rather than certain parts of it. For example, there may be a pool on the property that hasn’t been maintained for several years and would need repairing to function again. The seller may not be willing to repair the pool and decides to sell it as-is. Therefore, make sure you ask the seller or their agent whether the whole home is being sold as-is or a part of it. It would be much easier to negotiate repairs if the latter one is the case.

Buyer Agent

A real estate agent with experience in ‘as-is’ sales can prove to be very useful if you are considering purchasing a home as is. The agent has knowledge on the real estate market, and can quickly evaluate whether an as-is home is worth it compared to other similar properties. Given the home inspection, a buyer agent can also make an estimation of the repairs a house will need and find out if you will actually be saving any money by purchasing it as-is.

Home Warranties

Home warranties are a good solution to protect the appliances or systems that do work in a house sold as-is. As a buyer, you will probably be spending a lot on repairs and replacing items that are already damaged, and a home warranty policy can give you some peace of mind knowing that the appliances that work are covered.

Should you buy a house as-is?

Buyers will also have to deal with the dilemma of whether it is worth purchasing a house as-is. Evaluate the following pros and cons if you are considering purchasing a house as-is:

Pros

Lower Price - Since the seller is not willing to make any changes and repairs to the property, you can ask for a price reduction based on your own calculations of the repairs needed. If the seller has not done a pre-listing inspection, it is crucial for you to have a home inspection conducted when you consider buying a home as-is.

DIY Project - If you are someone who enjoys having room to explore their creativity and is looking for their next DIY project, then an as-is home provides an excellent opportunity to purchase a house for cheaper and fix it up yourself.

Cons

More costs - While as a buyer you will be saving by purchasing the home at a lower price, you will also have to pay for the needed repairs yourself. This might not be a big deal when there is a broken window or two around the house, however, if you have to replace the roof of a home entirely, your costs will increase significantly.

Less negotiation - While you can try and negotiate with the seller on the repairs needed to be performed, the seller will be less willing to consider these requests as they listed the home as-is for a reason in the first place.

ProsCons
  • Lower Price
  • DIY Project
  • More Costs
  • Less Negotiation

Final Words

Whether you are a buyer or seller of a home sold as is, the complexity of the process will mostly depend on the current condition of the house, your financial situation and the time you would like to move in or out of the house. A real estate agent with experience in ‘as-is’ sales can be a great asset no matter which side of the transaction you are in. They can help make the process smoother, faster and make you confident in your decisions throughout the sale process. If you plan to go through the procedure on your own, make sure you do as much research as you can on the home being sold, the real estate market, your rights as a seller or buyer and on lender requirements if you are a buyer using financing.

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