Many property owners need help deciding whether to sell their house as-is. They usually choose this path when speed, convenience, or property conditions are primary considerations.
Whether you’re a seasoned seller or a newbie, we’re here to guide you through ensuring a smooth, legal, and profitable transaction. Let’s explore the world of selling a house as-is in Massachusetts.
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What Is As-Is?
“As-is” refers to selling a property in its existing condition without any repairs or upgrades. Buyers should expect the house in the state they see it, with no alterations promised by the seller.
While this approach may seem straightforward, it doesn’t absolve the seller from their duty to disclose pertinent information. Sellers must still inform potential buyers about significant issues impacting the home’s value or livability. Therefore, “as-is” isn’t a cloak for hidden problems but an understanding that you won’t make any repairs before the sale. Both sellers and buyers should be fully aware of the implications.
What As-Is Does NOT Mean
You must understand what selling a house as-is does and does NOT mean.
Selling a home “as-is” does not equate to skipping buyer inspections. Contrary to this misconception, buyers are entitled to—and should—conduct thorough inspections. The “as-is” label simply communicates that the seller won’t undertake repairs or modifications based on those findings.
For sellers, it’s advantageous to ensure buyers are entirely informed about the property’s condition. Attempting to obscure significant issues isn’t just unethical; it poses legal risks. Sellers could face potential lawsuits for not disclosing known problems. Hence, sellers should always grant buyers ample inspection opportunities, ensuring a transparent and fair transaction for both parties.
No, “as-is” home sales are not automatically free from contingencies. Contingencies, separate from property condition, can still be included in an “as-is” sale contract.
Common contingencies in real estate contracts include:
- Financing Contingency: This allows the buyer time to secure mortgage approval.
- Appraisal Contingency: The property must appraise for at least the agreed-upon sale price.
- Inspection Contingency: Even in “as-is” sales, buyers often include an inspection contingency to understand the property’s condition. If significant undisclosed issues are found, buyers might still negotiate or walk away from the deal.
- Title Contingency: Ensures the property’s title is clear from liens or disputes.
If the buyer cancels the contract within their allotted time, the seller must give the buyer 100% of the earnest money deposit they put down when they made the offer.
Buyers, like real estate investors, may submit offers without inspection contingencies. This can make their offer more attractive to the seller. In this case, the buyer can still back out of the deal. However, they can’t get their earnest money deposit back if the reason is due to the condition of the property.
Selling site unseen
Selling a home “sight unseen” and “as-is” are two distinct concepts in real estate, though they can sometimes intersect. Let’s break down the differences:
- Sight Unseen: This term means that the buyer agrees to purchase the property without physically visiting or inspecting it first. Sight-unseen purchases are becoming more common, especially with the rise of virtual tours and online real estate platforms, as well as in heated markets where buyers want to move quickly.
- As-Is: Selling a home “as-is” refers to selling the property in its current condition, without the seller making any repairs or improvements before the sale. The emphasis here is on the state of the property and the expectations regarding repairs.
No Renegotiating price
After the buyer performs an inspection, they may return to you and ask for a price reduction. Due to the As-Is clause, they know they can’t ask you to make any repairs.
Massachusetts has light disclosure requirements compared to other states. For example, California requires sellers to report any known issues on the property. Massachusetts follows the legal rule called caveat emptor, or “buyer beware.”
Sellers are required to make two disclosures if the conditions are present:
- Lead Paint: It’s state and federal law for sellers in Massachusetts to declare the presence of lead paint anywhere on the property. The federal government banned lead paint for residential use in 1978. The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that roughly 35 percent of U.S. homes contain some lead-based paint. The buyer has the right to request a paint inspection. (See the Massachusetts Lead Paint Statute)
- Septic Tank: Sellers must disclose if their sewage is disposed of in a septic tank system. If that’s the case, septic tank systems need inspection before a sale occurs. (See Title 5 of the Massachusetts Environmental Code).
The burden is on the buyer to ask the right questions and do their due diligence through a home inspection. As a seller, you’re legally required to answer questions truthfully. Failure to tell the truth can lead to the buyer suing you for misrepresentation.
Who Would Sell A House As-Is?
As real estate investors, we encounter homeowners in many unique situations. 99% of the homeowners who choose to sell their house as-is fall into one of these five categories.
- They just inherited a new house and want to sell it quickly (often because they need the money and not the headache).
- They’re going through a divorce, and either need to sell the house due to a court order or to recover financially.
- They’re a landlord who needs to get rid of a property that’s costing them more than it’s worth (usually due to bad tenants or a sharp increase in property expenses)
- To avoid losing their home to foreclosure and get equity out of it.
- The property is unlivable and requires extensive repairs.
Pros Of Selling A House As-Is
- Selling a house without an inspection means no pre-listing repairs.
- You can make a sale in days or weeks instead of months when you sell as-is.
- You can skip staging a house and preparing for open houses.
- You’ll get all-cash offers from buyers looking to quickly secure a property to renovate
Cons Of Selling A House As-Is
- Selling a house as is means a reduced ROI. After years of wear and tear, your home may depreciate rather than appreciate.
- Few buyers want a project, opting for move-in-ready homes.
Can You Legally Sell A House As-Is In Massachusetts
As-is clauses are legal in all 50 states, including Massachusetts. This legality does not shield sellers from their duty to transparency and disclosure. The language does protect you from claims regarding defects after the fact.
Home Inspections Are Not Required In Massachusetts
No law or regulation in Massachusetts requires homeowners to have their homes inspected before listing or accepting an offer.
Who Buys Houses As-Is?
Several types of buyers are typically interested in purchasing houses “as-is.” Here’s a breakdown:
- Real Estate Investors: These are individuals or companies that buy properties intending to renovate them and either sell for a profit (flipping) or rent them out. They often have experience estimating repair costs and can see the potential value in “as-is” homes.
Buy-and-Hold Investors: These investors purchase homes to hold onto them long-term, usually as rental properties.
- Homeowners Looking for a Bargain: Some homeowners are willing to purchase an “as-is” property at a reduced price, planning to make the repairs or updates themselves. This can appeal to those with construction or renovation skills or those looking for a “fixer-upper.”
- Wholesalers: These individuals contract to buy homes and then sell that contract to an end buyer, often without ever taking possession of the property. They look for “as-is” properties they can get under contract at a low price and then sell that contract to another investor for a higher price.
- Builders or Developers: In cases where the land value is more significant than the actual structure, builders or developers might buy an “as-is” home to tear it down and build a new property.
How We Determine A Home’s Value
We have a formula to break down how to determine the value of properties we buy. You can use this formula to determine the value of your home as a seller.
Let us break the formula down for you in simpler terms.
ARV (After-Repair Value) – This is the market price of your home after we buy it, fix it and go to sell it. This price is calculated based on the recent sales of similar houses in your neighborhood.
COR (Cost Of Repairs) – This is the amount that we estimate that it will cost us to fix your house after we buy it to get it to market value. This can include a new roof, siding, kitchen and bath remodels, electrical and plumbing updates, painting, flooring, etc. Buyers expect renovated homes to be brought back to life to match the modern homes in the neighborhood and we must make the necessary updates to keep them happy!
SC (Selling Costs) – This is the amount it will cost us when we resell your house after we fix it. When we resell your house we will have to pay those ugly realtor commissions and closing costs that you avoided by selling to us. We also factor in our minimum profit here as well. Unfortunately, we are a business and need to make money to keep helping homeowners in time of need!
Determine If Making Repairs Is Worth The Time And Effort
You can make repairs yourself or, of course, hire a contractor to make them for you. You need to determine if it’s worth your time and money to do this. If not, then a cash home sale is the better choice.
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t invest too much into upgrading what will be someone else’s home.
We suggest doing these two things:
- Fixing hazards that currently or soon will make the home unlivable
- Making quick fixes that make your home look more livable, fresh, and new
If you own an older home, here are a few repairs you can make:
- Repaint areas with significant chipping and peeling to make the house look well-maintained. Not doing this can make a home fail an FHA appraisal. Also, the fresh paint smell attracts buyers like moths to a flame.
- Put in new light fixtures to brighten up the space.
- Find out what cleaner your local flooring company uses and use it to bring back your floors shine.
- Clean and remove as much clutter as possible to make the house look bigger. Put 90% of your stuff in storage and keep what you need to live.
- Rent a pressure washer for the day and clean exterior surfaces.
You can find quality items like light fixtures in Amazon’s “used” and “like new” sections. These are usually returned items that save you 20% or more.
You don’t want to waste your time and money on the repairs in the middle. It’s unnecessary and won’t be immediately apparent to potential buyers. We see sellers update things like appliances, flooring, and doors just for the new owners to replace them all a few years later.
What a waste.
You should make repairs so your home doesn’t sit on the market too long. If you’re selling your house as-is and already have interested buyers, this won’t be too much of an issue.
I’ll close on this.
If any of what I just said sounds like a headache, ignore the advice and sell completely as-is.
Selling A House As-Is In Massachusetts
Selling a home “as-is” in Massachusetts offers both benefits and challenges. The real estate market is sometimes overwhelming, but that’s no excuse to intentionally stay ignorant to the whole as-is process.
While the “as-is” approach can bypass some traditional home selling hurdles, transparency remains key. Ensure both you and the buyer are well-informed. Remember, whether you’re renovating, selling “as-is,” or considering other real estate ventures, it’s always about making informed choices that suit your unique needs and circumstances.