Fix My House Now and Pay When I Sell It?

It’s a dilemma that every residential real estate agent encounters regularly. A new client hires her with instructions to sell his home as quickly as possible. His need for speed is often driven by the fear of foreclosure or forfeiture because he can’t keep up with mortgage payments or property taxes. Or, he needs cash fast for unexpected medical bills, college costs, or a business opportunity.

The agent makes an on-site assessment of the property to determine what needs to be done to get the highest price in the shortest time. As she tours the home, she takes notes:

  • “The popcorn ceiling in the dining room has to go.”
  • “The water damage to the hardwood floors will knock $5,000 off the price.”
  • “The asbestos tile in the basement is beginning to crack. That’s a non-starter.”
  • “The refrigerator is more than 15 years old. Needs to be replaced.”

After completing her inspection, she meets with her client to discuss a strategy. Among the topics they discuss is an appropriate asking price. The client paid $610,000 fifteen years ago. His mortgage balance is $345,000. He has a tax lien of $16,000.

The agent says that the good news is that homes in that subdivision are selling briskly. The average time on market was 36 days for three comparables that recently sold for around $780,000. The client does some quick math in his head and is delighted. After fees, he should walk away with nearly 400 grand in a few months!

Then, the agent brings up the matter of repairs, updates, and staging. She says that the work she feels is necessary is minor and shouldn’t take more than a few weeks. We just need to redo that ceiling, refinish the floors, and replace the ancient appliances. Paint the place inside and out. Oh, and above all, we need to get that asbestos tiling out of there.

Before the homeowner can respond, the agent also mentions that he needs to have a pre-sale home inspection done to find out if there are any hidden problems. When the client asks if that’s really necessary, she assures him that it will be $500 or so well spent because it’s always better to know in advance about any problems that prospective buyers will surely discover, and fix them first.

The homeowner asks the agent what she thinks all that will cost. She tells him not to worry, it should be no more than $15,000, a bargain in light of what it will add to the value of the house.

Fifteen grand? The homeowner tells the agent that things are really tight right now. Business has been slow for some time and he doesn’t have cash to fix up the house. The agent suggests a home equity loan. The client brings up the tax lien and the delinquent mortgage payments.

The agent shifts gears. She’s been in this situation countless times before. She tells her client that the home will most likely have to be offered on an “as is” basis, without warranties or contingencies. In other words, the buyer must agree to assume all liability for any and all damage, whether known or unknown, as a condition of sale. Of course, this will lower the price and probably significantly prolong the time on market.

“Lower it by how much?” asks the client. “Prolong by how long?”

The agent says it’s always difficult to guess the outcome of such a listing. She estimates that they’ll probably receive offers in the $700,000 to $720,000 range. As for time on market, who knows? Probably several months, maybe more. That asbestos tile is a real red flag. It’s possible that they won’t get any offers at all.

The scenario I’ve laid out is not unusual. It happens thousands of times a day throughout the country. Collectively, homeowners forego billions of dollars in potential proceeds because they have no choice but to sell their homes for less than their true worth. Real estate agents lose millions. was created to eliminate this problem. We work closely with homeowners to get their homes ready to sell fast and sell high based on their real estate agent’s recommendations. There’s no income or credit score requirement, no finance charges, and no money required up front. We wait for payment until the house is sold.

But we do more. We also assign a dedicated project manager to each job. The PM selects and supervises all subcontractors, relieving the homeowner from the burden of having to deal with multiple vendors.

We’re excited to have the opportunity to help homeowners who have no other way to get the most value from their most important asset. has arrived!

Matthew Siegal
Co-Founder and CMO LLC

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