How Long Does it Take to Sell a Home?
Are you wondering about the average time to sell a home from start to finish? The time it takes to sell a house varies greatly from home to home, location to location, and market to market. Since every home sale looks different, we’re going to look at the average time to sell an average home in an average area in average market conditions.
What exactly does this mean? Imagine a home fit for a 4-person family located in the suburbs.
From finding a Realtor to prepping your home for the MLS, you’re looking at 2 to 4 months with the variance depending on the home’s condition.
In total, a typical home sale takes 4 to 7.5 months from start to close– this includes finding a competent Realtor, making repairs, finding a buyer, and closing.
If your home sale is outside of the average, it could be due to the numerous factors that impact the timeline to sell, including market conditions, season, price, the type of home, etc.
For example, if you are selling a shipping container home and there are few of these types of homes in your area, the market might not react favorably. A container home will probably make buyers second guess their purchase if they are not familiar with this kind of housing choice.
Finding comps or comparables sales would be challenging for a buyer’s agent to analyze and then again when the lender asks their appraiser to visit. With so few container home sales, it’s much harder to judge the time on the market and then time to close.
Let’s explore these factors and break down the average timeline for selling a home.
Finding a Reliable Realtor (1 Month)
An excellent Realtor can make a huge difference in the time it takes to sell a home. It’s worth conducting your due diligence on local real estate agents to ensure they have sufficient experience and have sold similar homes quickly in your area.
You can compare a Realtor’s average DOM (days on the market) to your area’s average DOM. A reliable real estate will handle staging the home, taking photographs, listing the home on the MLS, negotiations, and everything in between.
Many sellers consider listing “For Sale By Owner”– this typically is known to lengthen the time it takes to sell your home for homeowners who don’t already know their buyer. This is because homeowners uninvolved in the real estate space lack the experience and network compared to a seasoned agent.
Getting Your Home “Market Ready” (1 – 3 Months)
Whether you are considering selling your home or have made a firm decision to sell, start fixing and cleaning it up as early as possible with guidance from your Realtor.
Depending on the size of your home and its current condition, the time it takes to get it up to market standards could take anywhere from 1 month to 3 months on average. If you are only making small repairs and painting, you’ll be on the shorter end. However, if you have a lot of deferred maintenance to deal with, you could be looking at the higher end of this timeline.
If 3 months of repairs sound too short for the condition of your home, you may be better off exploring other home sale options, such as working with a real estate investor to sell as-is. This is because the time and money put into major renovations can be hard to get back out of a home on the market.
Finding a Buyer (1 – 2 months)
The time it takes to find a buyer depends on various factors, but on average, a buyer can be found in 45 days. The area in which you’re selling your house is one of the largest factors for the timeline to find a buyer. Cities have more people, which typically equates to more demand, whereas rural areas have fewer people, so it can take longer to find an interested buyer at the right price.
The uniqueness of the property also plays a role. Typically the more unique the home looks, the longer it will take to sell– a homeowner may have customized the home to fit their needs without a buyer in mind who finds value in those customizations.
Funky layouts or non-conventional architecture can turn off many buyers dragging out the process to get your home sold at the right price.
Closing (4 – 6 Weeks)
Depending on how the buyer is financing the purchase as well as contract contingencies, closing can range from 4 to 6 weeks on average. The type of loan being used to finance the home can affect the time to close– FHA and VA are more restrictive due to overarching requirements outside of the lender’s control. In contrast, a conventional loan only follows the guidelines set by the lender.
If you find yourself a cash buyer, you are looking on the shorter end of this timeframe as there is no lender involved.
What Factors Impact The Selling Timeline?
Demand from the Market
The state of the market is out of your control, but a good agent will be able to provide guidance on things that are within your control, such as repairs to make and how to price the home.
Homes are selling year-round, so a lower demand shouldn’t deter you from selling, but you should set your expectations to match the current state of the market.
Condition of the Home
Any deferred maintenance you chose not to repair could deter retail buyers looking for a move-in-ready home– this decreases your pool for available buyers.
On the flip side, you could attract real estate investors and house-flippers, but they will typically offer less than market value as they account for the repairs that still need to be finished.
Over-improving your home is also not ideal. The condition of your home should follow suit with the comparable homes on the market in your area.
Buyers who see extra details such as a pool could view this as more work or that they’re paying for something they don’t actually find value in. There’s a fine balance between updating your home enough to attract buyers but not over-improving it to where you are deterring buyers and dragging out your timeline to sell.
One of the most vital factors determining how long it will take to sell a home is the asking price. How you price the home is a whole process in itself– your Realtor should know what price to list the home at as well as at what point to lower the sales price if the home is not selling.
A home priced above its actual market value can work when the market is hot, but in an average or below average market, the home can be sitting for a while.
Pricing below a home’s worth typically spurs competition and can actually move the price up to its true value. On the other hand, it could sell at a lower price, causing you to leave money on the table. A local Realtor should know the sweet spot of where to list the home.
Buyers using FHA or VA loans will typically take the longest to close as these loans come with stricter guidelines and a longer underwriting process than other forms of financing.
In the middle are buyers with conventional financing as these loans have fewer guidelines to follow than FHA or VA loans. The best-case scenario is a full-price cash offer as this has the least overhead due to no lenders and less underwriting for the title attorney. However, a cash offer is not always realistic when looking for a retail buyer on the MLS.
When Is The Best Time To Sell?
Homes sell year-round, but there are better times to sell than others if you want the best price or the quickest sale. It’s always best to connect with your realtor to get a solid understanding of your local market, but if you are located in an area that gets all 4 seasons, spring is the peak season while winter is the slowest.
It’s typically best to avoid national holidays such as the 4th of July, Christmas, and Thanksgiving– buyers are preoccupied with hosting and away from home visiting family or friends.
If it’s an election year, it’s best to wait to list your home until at least a week after the election has ended. You don’t want your potential buyers to be distracted when you have a home to sell!
How To Speed Up Your Home Sale
Price Your House Competitively
An overpriced home will sit on the market for months and months on end. Pricing right at the comps or even slightly under can create bidding wars and get your home sold quickly. However, going too low could raise concerns about the home’s condition– a trustworthy real estate agent can guide you on pricing competitively in your area.
Time the Market
Another factor that will influence the average time to sell is when you list for sale. Selling in a hotter season (such as spring or summer) when homeowners are looking to move and the weather is nice will move a home faster than selling in the off-season.
You also want to pay attention to your local real estate market– is it a seller’s market or buyer’s market? Talk to your real estate agent about timing the market to get your home sold as quickly as possible.
Consider Using a Cash Investor
Selling your home for cash to a local investor means there is no waiting for your buyer to get financing– this speeds up the closing process and completely bypasses the lender process.
A cash investor will purchase in as-is condition so that 1-3 months of repairs to get your home “market ready” drops to zero. You also get to skip the open houses and showings. You can either seek out an iBuyer or traditional cash investor.
A cash investor can take this process from several months to a few weeks. If you are more concerned about a fast, hassle-free sale than getting the highest price possible for your home, explore local cash investors in your area.
How long it takes to sell a home varies from home to home and market to market. What’s important is understanding the market conditions in your local market so you can make sound decisions.
Hopefully, you have enjoyed our tips on the average time to sell a house from start to finish.
About the author: The above article on how long it takes to sell a home was written by Andy Kolodgie. Andy is an owner of The House Guys in the Washington DC Metro area. As a local real estate investor, he helps homeowners sell their property hassle-free.