When you are ready to sell your home, the first thought that pops into your head is how much you can get for it. The second thought is how long the home selling process will take.
Well, the answer is a bit complicated. The amount of time it takes to sell a house varies greatly depending on several factors. The state of the current real estate market, your asking price, and the type of interested buyers are just a few of the critical variables.
Understanding the factors that affect the speed of the sales process is essential. Knowing how to speed things up and the tradeoffs is even more critical. In this article, you will be equipped with the knowledge and strategies to understand how much time home sales typically require and how you can make that timeline work in your favor.
How Long Does It Usually Take?
The average time it takes to sell a home is a little over two months. This might surprise you, given the recent hot seller’s market where houses seem to be gone in weeks, if not days. Well, just because a home is listed as “pending” or “offer accepted” doesn't mean it’s sold. The process of getting to the closing table takes time.
Some steps can take a while during each part of the home selling process. There’s a lot to handle, from deciding on a listing price to holding open houses, accepting an offer, and all the paperwork on the journey to finalizing the sale.
So, how long does it take for each of these steps to be completed? It all depends on various factors, only some of which you can control. How fast your house sells is part effort and part luck. Here, we will focus on how you can set yourself up for success with a realistic and efficient selling timeline.
Factors That Impact The Speed Of A Home Sale
Whether you want to take your time or complete a fast sale, knowing what factors will influence your selling time is valuable. To sell your house quickly, review each aspect and think about how you can speed it up.
It’s essential to keep in mind that you will likely have to compromise on price to sell a house as quickly as possible. Many steps in the process can take longer when they are geared toward getting the most money possible for your home.
Sometimes speed and money are in direct opposition when you sell your home, so keep this in mind as you review the following factors.
Below is a list of things that affect how quickly a home will sell.
State Of The Market
When it comes to any real estate transaction, the state of your local market is the first thing to look at. This will influence your listing price and your timeline, among other things. Unfortunately, this isn't a factor that you can control, but it’s something that will affect your ability to make your house sell faster than the average time.
There are three main types of real estate markets:
A seller’s market means buyer demand is high and inventory is low. This means home prices will be driven above their asking price as buyers get into bidding wars. It also shortens the time it will take to sell a house. More buyers mean a cash buyer’s likelihood increases, which speeds things up. More buyers also represent more seller leverage when negotiating the closing date. The more options you have to choose from, the pickier you can be. The time it takes to sell in a seller’s market can be as little as a few weeks.
A buyer’s market means buyer demand is low and home inventory is high. There are a lot of homes on the market to choose from and not very many people to compete with when you make an offer. This means home prices are lower, and timelines for selling are longer. With fewer buyers to choose from, home sellers see their houses sit on the market longer and often need to offer a price reduction to complete a sale. The time it takes to sell in a buyer’s market can take four months or even longer.
A balanced market means home inventory and buyer demand are pretty equal. This means homes are usually sold for fair market value. The bidding wars of a seller’s market aren’t driving home prices up, and the reduced prices of a buyer’s market aren’t driving sales prices down. In a balanced market, the time it takes to sell a house is closer to the average (a little over two months).
Number Of Days Of The House Listing
When your real estate agent puts the initial listing into the MLS (multiple listing system), information, including the listing photos and listing description, is distributed to various home search websites. Sometimes this creates immediate interest and showings. Sometimes it doesn’t.
If the house sits on the market for a while, it is less likely to sell. The good news is that your real estate agent can implement some strategies to help speed up the sale, like increased advertising or a price reduction.
Conversely, if your home is popular among potential buyers, you might find yourself reviewing offers in just a few days. Talk to your real estate agent about formulating a listing plan that will increase the likelihood of your home moving quickly instead of sitting on the market for longer than you’d like.
The most critical part of your house listing that affects the time it takes to sell is price. If you price it too high, buyers won’t come to see it. If you price it too low, you may not get the amount you need from the sale.
It’s all about finding that perfect listing price that generates interest among buyers but does not devalue the house. Talk to your agent about potential strategies for finding this sweet spot regarding price.
Your timeline for selling will affect the strategy you choose. If you are in no hurry to sell, it might make sense to list the home above market value. After all, you are willing to wait to get a higher price. If you are in a hurry to move, listing it below market value is an excellent way to get offers quickly.
Buyer’s Financial Situation
Your selling timeline will be significantly affected by the type of buyer you choose to work with. If you sell your house to a cash buyer, things can move fast. If you sell to someone using a mortgage, the time it will take to sell your home will be longer.
Mortgages take time. Lenders need to do extensive financial research on the buyer, including credit checks, income verification, and more. They also need to make sure the home is worth the amount they are lending the buyer to purchase it. This involved hiring an appraiser to determine the value of the house.
With a cash buyer, all of these steps go away. They can close as quickly as the funds can be transmitted, sometimes in only a day.
Homes that are move-in-ready sell faster than homes needing work. Homes that are updated with new finishes sell even quicker. Properties that are dilapidated from deferred maintenance or other issues take longer to sell.
When prospective buyers look for houses, they usually don't want a “fixer-upper.” There are exceptions, like house flippers, but they are not the norm. If you are looking to sell your house fast, make sure it is “turn-key” and ready for buyers to move in immediately.
Making sure your home is in good shape will help you pass a home inspection as well. If an inspector finds many significant issues, the selling process will halt until they get resolved.
“Location, location, location.” You’ve probably heard a real estate agent or two say this. Well, it’s true. Often the location of a property is more important than the physical characteristics of the house.
If your home is located in a desirable neighborhood, expect it to sell quickly. Sometimes buyers are so fixated on moving to a particular area that they don't even care what the house looks like.
Conversely, if your home is located in an area where home values are low, and houses sit on the market longer, it might not be easy to sell quickly. Focus on improving the home’s features to make up for its lack of ideal location.
An Experienced Agent (Or Lack Thereof)
Real estate agents offer various levels of experience and expertise. An experienced real estate agent can help you create an ideal timeline for selling your home and make it happen. Real estate agents that lack a track record of success might not be able to get that done.
Real estate agents who know what they’re doing will help determine the ideal sales price, navigate the home inspection, manage the appraisal, and make sure all the other steps are completed to get you to the closing table.
Tips For Speeding Up The Sale
When it comes to selling a house fast, there are several strategies you can employ. Below is some sound advice on speeding up the sale of a home.
Find A Good Agent With A Track Record For Fast Sales
As previously mentioned, a seasoned real estate agent is a critical part of selling your home successfully. There are plenty of options out there, and finding an agent with a lot of experience is as easy as a quick Google search. However, finding an agent that can get it done quickly requires a little more digging.
Research agents in your area and be sure to interview more than one. Ask them how quickly they sell homes and if you can talk to some previous clients of theirs. Talk to those clients and ask them how the agent met or exceeded their selling timeline expectations.
Some real estate agents might embellish how fast they have sold houses. Fact check their claims by looking up their past sales and seeing how quickly they got the deal done.
Once you have all the information you can find about each candidate, choose an experienced real estate agent that’s the right fit.
Resist The Urge To Do Major Renovations
When you want to get top dollar for your home and don’t mind waiting for the sale, doing renovations that increase the value is a great idea. When you are looking to sell your house fast, it’s not the best route to take.
Major renovations take time and money. With the current supply chain issues, labor shortages, and increased prices for materials our country faces, they take even more time and money than usual. For a fast sale, steer clear of significant renovations.
Minor improvements like a fresh coat of paint can be done quickly and with little effort. If you are looking to slightly increase the value of your home before selling, consider some smaller projects that won’t lengthen your selling timeline.
Enlist Any Contractors Early
If you need to get some work done on your home before selling, reach out to contractors as early in the process as possible. They often have full schedules, especially these days where home renovations are more and more common. If you wait until the last minute, they likely won't be able to do the work you need to be done.
Be clear about your timeline expectations when talking to anyone who will work on your home. When they give you an estimate about how long the job will take, be ready for it to take longer. If you aren’t prepared to wait longer than expected for things to get done, do have any work done before you sell.
Keep The House Clean And Tidy
Prospective buyers want it to feel warm and inviting when they tour a home. Toys and other household items on the floor or stains on the walls are a big turn-off. Make sure you are picking any items up and cleaning your house before each showing so you can show your home to buyers in the best possible light.
The quickest way to sell a house involves making sure each person that sees it considers making an offer. To accomplish this, you need to keep the place clean and tidy.
Get An Inspection Before Getting The Listing Out
To ensure the house is in tip-top shape, get a home inspection before listing it for sale. This only takes a few hours, and it will speed up the process down the line.
Buyers are looking for homes that they can move into with little to no effort. If there are repairs to be made, they want them done before taking ownership of the house.
Buyers will do a home inspection after you accept their offer as well. If you’ve already had a home inspection done before listing, chances are the buyers won’t find anything that needs to be fixed. As a result, you will be able to get the deal done faster.
Get The Price Right
Two key factors should influence the price you decide to list your house for. First, how much money do you need to get out of it? Do you need money for a down payment on a new home? Or are you already moved into your new home and don’t need as much from the sale?
The second factor is pricing the house in a way that will attract the most potential buyers. Overpricing will turn away prospects, and underpricing will make people think there's something wrong with the house.
Explore Using A Cash Buyer
Selling a house for cash is a great way to get your home sold fast. Cash buyers don't need to wait for a lender to approve them for a loan. They also don’t need an appraisal, which can be time-consuming (and costly if the house doesn't appraise for the contract price). Fortunately, several different types of cash buyers might be interested in your home.
Wholesalers make an offer on your home and then find a cash buyer to take over the contract before the closing. They are a great option to consider if you want to get some quick cash for your home.
House flippers buy distressed properties, fix them up, and then sell them at a profit. Consider finding these types of cash buyers as well.
“Buy and hold” investors purchase properties and then keep them as they appreciate. Once they have waited long enough for the property to be worth considerably more than they bought it for, they sell. They often pay with cash to get the best price possible.
Be Flexible With Your Schedule
No matter what your selling timeline is, be flexible with it. Even with the best-laid plans, unforeseen things often come up that slow down the process. It’s great to have clear expectations. Just don’t be surprised when you need to adjust them.
Selling your home can take anywhere from a few days to many months. Understanding the factors that slow down or speed up the sale process can help you set realistic expectations. A home sale is a complicated process, but many steps are in your control. Take the time to define your timeline and use the strategies you’ve found here to make the timeline work for you.