When it comes to selling, one of the homeowners’ biggest concerns is how long the house is going to take to sell. If there was a way to predict how long a house was going to sit on the market before a buyer finally bit, life would be a whole lot easier. And in truth, there are a lot of ways to predict how long it will take a house to sell. Your job as a homeowner looking to sell your house is to do everything in your power to get your property off your hands as quickly as possible, because the longer it sits on the market, the more difficult it will be to sell over time.
Why the rush?
The longer a house sits on the market, the worse it looks to buyers. Why? Well, consider this — Say you’re in the market for a nice new watch, but you only have money to buy one. You walk into a store and you see two watches for sale that you really like, but know you have to choose between the two. The sales associate tells you that the two watches cost exactly the same, but one of them has been on display for two months, while the other one just arrived in a new shipment. You start wondering… what’s so wrong with the one watch that no one wanted to buy it for two whole months? Even if you like it at first glance, you begin wondering what others might know about this watch that you don’t. You come to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with the old watch, and therefore decide to go with the newer, equally priced watch that you like just the same.
This is exactly what happens with homes listed for sale.
Your listing information will display how long your house has been on the market, so if you jump the gun and list it before it’s in its best condition, you’ll start racking up that “days on market” number. The more days your home has been sitting, the more suspicious potential buyers will start to get. And once that number climbs, there’s no undoing it. There’s no magical “reset button” for your days on market number, so it’s imperative that you do everything you can to whip your house into selling condition before listing it for sale.
How much time does a house typically stay on the market before selling?
This answer might be disappointing to those who are trying to nail down a specific timeline, but: it depends. There are many factors that go into deciding how long a house will sit on the market before selling. In the United States as a whole, the average days on market (DOM) is 58. However, this will look very different depending on what particular state you live in. For example, the average DOM in Sacramento, CA is 34, while the average in Santa Fe, NM is 80. So clearly, the average selling time is going to vary greatly depending on a number of factors. If you talk to a professional real estate agent, they should be able to give you a general estimate of how your home will perform on the market based on location, market health, home value, etc. If you want to see the average DOM for your area and other data regarding the market in your area, you can check out Realtor.com’s Local Market Trends.
Factors to consider:
- Price of the house you want to sell. Overpriced houses do not perform well on the market, and there is a strong correlation between price and DOM — the correlation being that too high of price = longer time on market. It may be tempting to price your house above what it’s actually worth in hopes that someone will buy it regardless, but this is extremely risky and usually not worth it in the long run. Ask your real estate agent to appraise your home for you, especially if you did major renovations. This way you can get an idea of the true value of your home from a trained professional. Also, aside from an increasing DOM number, also keep in mind that your house listing can even expire, so it’s definitely in your best interest to have a flexible price tag for your house.
- Location of the house. Homes located in metropolitan areas and places with swiftly growing populations are always going to sell faster than those in rural areas that are far from the nearest sizeable city. People are typically looking to live close to all of the amenities offered by big cities. They want to be close to the best schools, where they work, grocery stores, shops, entertainment, etc, so the more conveniently located your house is, the quicker it will sell. So keep in mind if you live off the beaten path a ways, you should expect to have to wait around a little longer than your city slicker counterparts.
- The condition of the house. The interior and exterior conditions of your house are obviously going to be a huge factor in the speed at which your house sells. Your house could be newly built, but if it looks like a disaster on the inside then buyers aren’t going to care about whether it’s brand new or decades old, all they’re going to see is an ugly, ill-maintained house. This is why it’s important to make major and minor repairs before listing your home, so that buyers don’t see a shoddy foundation, chipped and dull paint, or torn up carpets when they open the images of the interior. To boost the appeal even more, you can also consider staging your house. Staging basically means dressing up your house the way you want it to be seen by potential buyers. This helps the home look more put together in photographs and for any open houses or showings you host.
- Consider the seasonal changes. Across the nation, the summer time is widely regarded as being the best time to sell. There’s rarely a year when summer isn’t a seller’s market. According to Zillow, the first half of May is when sellers nationwide are able to maximize return and get their home sold the quickest. Right before Summer hits is when prospective home buyers and families are looking to get settled into a new property before the new school year starts. Across the country, homes listed for sale in the window of the first half of May sold almost two weeks faster than average, and for $2,500 more, compared to average points in the year. But there are many other factors to consider in determining what time of year is best to list your home. For example, local housing market status, job growth in the area, mortgage rates, tax incentives, etc. Make sure to do some research on the local area to see what the market is like. Just because summer is generally the best time to sell, this is taking the entirety of the United States into account. Depending on where you live, it’s possible that summer could be the worst time to sell in your area, and your house may end up on market through the entire summer, which you definitely don’t want.
- The status of the market. The market is either considered a “seller’s market” or a “buyer’s market.” If it’s a seller’s market, this is good news for those trying to sell their house, and excellent for selling your house fast. This usually entails little competition but a high number of potential buyers looking for their dream home. Seller’s markets will put all the power in the hands of the seller, and your days on market will likely be lower than if there was a ton of competition and very little numbers of people looking to buy. Do some research or consult your real estate agent to answer these questions to assess the status of the market: How many competitors do you have? What’s the average price of a comparable home being sold on the market? What’s the average DOM this season? Asking questions like this not only helps you sell, but also educates you how this part of real estate works. Keep in mind that in a buyer’s market, prospective buyers have plenty of options to choose from outside of your property. If the buyer doesn’t absolutely love what you have, they can just pass and find something else. If you’re dealing with a buyer’s market, be aware that you’ll need to be more strategic when it comes to selling your house. Learn from the market and apply techniques from our blog or at the advice of your agent. Keep track of what’s happening in the local market and you will be able to sell your house in no time.
No matter how fast you’re able to swing a sale, you’re going to have to employ at least a little bit of patience. They don’t call it a “home selling process” for nothing. But with the right amount of prep work and dedication, your house shouldn’t have to sit on the market for much longer than anticipated.