How long it takes to sell a house depends on your local market conditions, demand, the decisions you make about your home and how you approach the selling process.
As of November 2021, the average home sat on the market for 22 days and, according to the Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report, the average time to close on a home purchase was 49 days. That totals to 71 days on average from listing to closing; however, the sale of your home could be different. Every market and individual sale will vary in terms of the number of days on market and the time it takes to close.
Factors That Impact the House Selling Timeline
While some houses may sell quickly, others can take longer. Once a house is listed, several factors can influence the speed of the sale. Here are some of the biggest factors to consider:
State of the Market
The law of supply and demand plays an important role in the real estate market on a national and local level. The state of the market is typically expressed as a buyer’s market or a seller’s market.
In a buyer’s market, there’s a bigger supply than there is demand for housing. It typically takes longer to sell in a buyer’s market. In a seller’s market, the demand exceeds the supply. Homes sell faster and sellers can command a higher asking price.
The Number of Days on the Market
Buyers tend to be more cautious of homes that have been on the market longer than others. “Buyers start to wonder what is wrong with the property and may pass it over for another property that hasn’t been available as long,” explains Jessica Fisher, a licensed Realtor in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Pricing your home too high can result in fewer offers or offers coming in considerably under the asking price. “In this market, homes are selling quickly if they are appropriately priced,” says Fisher. “Over-pricing presents challenges, including the stigma that comes with a home being on the market for any length of time.”
Condition of the Home
Potential buyers may overlook a home that needs extensive repairs. This could lengthen the time a house sits on the market. Uncovering problems with the home could also lead to additional negotiations and concessions that may impact the selling timeline.
Location is key in how long it takes to sell a house and the property’s perceived value. If the house is in a highly desirable location, then it could sell quickly. If it’s located in an undesirable neighborhood, it could take longer.
How Long Does It Take to Sell a House?
Although the average number of days a house sits on the market is 22 days, that doesn’t factor in the time it takes to prepare the home for sale and everything that needs to be done after the offer is accepted.
Here is the typical house selling timeline and how long each step usually takes:
Hire a Real Estate Agent
If you’d rather not spend the time and effort selling the home yourself, a real estate agent can help you through every step of the home sale.
“The first thing a homeowner should do is contact a trusted Realtor,” says Fisher. “A Realtor will be able to give the homeowner a clear picture of what’s happening in the local market and will also be able to provide a market analysis of the home, discuss pricing strategies and explain the sale process from start to finish.”
It’s also important to compare and interview agents in your area. “Sellers should hire an agent that honestly communicates with them about the market value of their home, the process of selling and what to expect. You want an agent to tell you the good, the bad and the ugly no matter what happens,” Fisher explains.
Prepare the House For Sale
Unless you decide to sell your house as is, you need to prepare your house to be listed on the market and to be shown to potential buyers. The length of time it takes to prepare the home will depend on how much maintenance and work the owner has already put into the property.
According to a Coldwell Banker survey, 80% of Americans say they prefer to buy a move-in-ready home over one that requires any updating. Putting in the extra effort to prepare your home makes it more marketable. Not only can you ask for a higher price, but it could also mean a faster sale.
List and Show the Property
Once everything is prepped, it’s time to price your home and list it on the market. After your home is listed, your real estate agent can schedule showings and greet potential buyers when they visit the property.
Although the average home sits on the market for about 22 days, it could take more time or less before you accept an offer. The days on market can also depend on when you list your home. Research shows that November, December, January and February are the slowest months throughout the year and may even be less profitable.
Accept an Offer
After an offer is received, the response time may depend on the contract. Some contracts set offer time limits — 24, 48 or 72 hours — to dictate how long each party has to respond. Once it expires, the contract is void and a new offer must be submitted.
If there’s no contractual time limit, most agents, buyers and sellers follow common courtesy to respond within a few days after receiving an offer or counteroffer.
Appraisal and Inspection
After accepting an offer, the buyer’s mortgage lender may require an appraisal of the property to determine the fair market value. How long the appraisal process takes depends on the complexity of the appraisal as well as the appraiser’s schedule and workload. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
An inspection may also be required before closing and usually takes place within seven to 10 days after an offer is accepted. This typically takes a few hours and then a day or two to write the report; however, this also depends on the size and condition of the property.
If there’s an appraisal or inspection contingency in the contract, the potential buyer can negotiate repairs or they can walk away from the deal if there are any problems.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 24% of contracts had a delayed settlement within the past three months. Of those delayed contracts, 23% were delayed due to appraisal issues and 9% were due to the home inspection or environmental issues.
At closing, the buyer and seller will be able to review and sign the closing documents. Ellie Mae estimates that the average time to close on a home purchase is 49 days as of November 2021. However, the length of time it takes to get to the closing table depends on the buyer’s mortgage lender, loan type and the current housing market.
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