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7 min read

How Long Does It Take To Sell a House?

Feb 19, 2022 10:45:00 AM

Whether you’re thinking ahead or working under a time crunch, here’s what to expect when you’re selling your home.

For some people, making a decision is a time-consuming process requiring planning, research, and deep thought. Others are ready to act as soon as they have made a decision, relying on instinct and intuition. Whichever decision-making style you favor, selling your home can present unique challenges and requirements. While you may be wondering, “How long does it take to sell a house?” what you really want to know is “How long will it take to sell MY house?”

The answer, of course, depends on a variety of factors from the conditions in your market to the condition of your home. The good news is that there are a variety of ways to improve your chances of a timely sale and to optimize your home for market conditions. 

If you have a little time to spare before you sell, you can even make home improvements that make your listing more marketable and increase property value. That can have a big impact on the timeline of your home sale.

A calendar indicating when the person needs to sell their house.

How long do most houses take to sell?

In 2021, days on market (DOM) was historically low, hitting 15 days from listing to contract. Of course, because this is a historically low number, under normal real estate market conditions home sales take considerably longer. Looking back at historical records, days on market vary widely, depending on a variety of factors. These include:

Location, location, location

There’s a reason that this phrase is practically synonymous with real estate sales. The location of a property can have a major impact on home value and on the amount of time it stays on the market. 

Is the area desirable? Does the property fit in with other homes in the same market? Are there unattractive or abandoned homes or businesses nearby? Is there new construction going on in the area? Any of these factors can influence the length of time a home waits for a potential buyer.

Economic factors

Economic factors can greatly affect the days on market. These may include the difficulty of getting a mortgage approval, unemployment figures, or a looming recession. In general, uncertainty in the economy and high disparities in appraisal vs market value makes people reluctant to sell or buy homes and can keep existing listings on the market longer.

Local market conditions

Not all economic factors are national or global in scale. In some cases, local conditions can change, causing a shift in days on market. Perhaps a major employer is going out of business. This can cause homes to sit on the housing market for months or even years without a buyer. In these cases, it’s important to find a local real estate agent who knows the area well. Dwellful can connect you to experienced realtors in areas such as Sonoma, Novato, San Francisco, and many other popular cities. On the other hand, a new industry or employer moving in can make homes sell like hotcakes, even in traditionally slower markets.

Curb appeal

Imagine a buyer pulling up to a listing and seeing uncut grass, peeling paint, a broken mailbox, and a cracked walkway leading to a faded front door. The location, market, and bones of the house would have to be pretty amazing to encourage that prospective buyer to overlook all of those factors and make an offer. Some homes that sit on the market do so because they have not been properly prepared for a quick sale.

Marketing strategy

Similarly, imagine a perfectly decorated and maintained home sitting pretty on its perfect corner lot. Now imagine that the only photos online are blurry and taken in poor lighting. Imagine that there’s no property description or other information given about the listing. 

That delightful home may have to sit a long time waiting for a buyer since the vast majority begin their search online. From the online listing, to the open house, to closing, proper marketing of a listing makes all the difference in days on market.

What is the best month to sell a house?

The best time to sell a home depends on your goal and your local market. Anytime in the spring and summer is usually considered a good time for a faster sale and a higher asking price. Anecdotally, May is generally considered the best month to sell a home because people are trying to wait for school to end before making their move.

Of course, different markets have different rules and different times of year that are preferable. For instance, in many warm-weather markets, there may be little variability throughout the year since the weather will have little impact on buyer or seller behavior. In many coastal resort areas, winter is prime time for selling to people who don’t want to face another winter of snow-shoveling. Talk to your real estate agent about trends in your area, including the best time of year to launch your listing.

How long should a house sale take?

Here too, there is no definitive answer. That’s because different types of houses take different strategies and lengths of time. A luxury home, for example, may take longer to sell because it’s too expensive to appeal to the average buyer. On the other hand, a condominium in an oversaturated urban market may be affordable yet take longer to sell because there is simply too much competition for a limited number of similar buyers.

Here too, your real estate agent is the best source of information for determining how long it takes for a house to sell in your area. In addition, they will be able to provide you with insight on value-added home improvements that can enhance your odds of a quick sale. These may include any of the following:

Professional home staging and marketing materials

In many cases, professional staging and marketing can help to speed up a sale by making the home stand out from others in the same area. In some cases, like luxury home sales, professional staging and marketing is essential and expected by buyers in that segment. Talk to your real estate agent about the types of marketing strategies they use and find out what they suggest for your home.

Home repairs and minor improvements

Deferred maintenance is a fear for many buyers and can keep a home on the market longer. In addition, a long list of problems during the home inspection process can scare off potential buyers, even if you’ve already gone under contract. Have your agent walk around with you and identify needed repairs and updates or ask for a checklist so that you can ensure your home is ready to show.

Decluttering and depersonalizing

When potential buyers tour your home, they want to be able to picture themselves and their belongings in the space. That’s hard to do if there are family photos on every wall and a collection of tchotchkes on every surface. Pre-pack personal items and present a clean, neutral environment that will appeal to a wide range of buyers.

Landscaping and curb appeal enhancements

In order to increase home value and help it show its best, make sure that your lawn is mowed, walkways swept, windows are clean and the trim work is painted. If you have a little time and money to spare, consider painting the front door, adding new hardware, or updating the exterior lighting.

Pre-inspection and pre-appraisal

Selling a home quickly often comes down to right-pricing the property and ensuring that it is in tip-top shape. Talk to your real estate agent about additional insights you should consider as you prepare for the sale. 

Have your home pre-inspected to find out what repairs are needed so that potential buyers can feel good about the home’s condition. Secure a pre-appraisal to zero in on your home’s potential market value. 

How fast can someone sell a house?

When determining how long it takes for a house to sell, you’ll need to factor in the time needed for the escrow or contract period and the closing process. If you’re working with a buyer who’s obtaining a mortgage and who has included contingencies with the offer, your closing process may take 45-60 days minimum since there will need to be time set aside for a home inspection, appraisal, and title search.

For a cash sale with no contingencies, the closing may occur within a much shorter period, often as little as two weeks. Talk to your agent or broker about the closing costs and process and find out how long transactions generally take in your area.

While a fast home sale may be a goal for you, especially if you’re trying to buy a house while selling your own, you also want to ensure that you sell your home for the right sale price. You need to make sure that the offer you accept is from buyers who have secured dependable financing so that the purchase will close on time.

If you’re looking for a knowledgeable local real estate agent, the Dwellful agent finder is a great resource. Here you’ll find an experienced realtor in areas such as Sonoma, San Francisco, and many more cities who knows how to help you optimize your potential home value – and your satisfaction is guaranteed.

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Christy Murdock

Written by Christy Murdock

Christy Murdock is a content writer, consultant, and coach who helps real estate and business professionals stand out as industry leaders through effective content marketing strategies. As a contributor and educator for leading real estate companies such as Inman and ReminderMedia, Christy is a trusted leader in real estate marketing. Through her company Writing Real Estate, Christy writes blogs, property descriptions, websites, and promotional copy that increases traffic and results in higher conversions for real estate agents, brokers and other professionals.