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How Long Does It Take To Sell A House?

7-Minute Read
Published on July 6, 2022
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Selling your home is not an easy decision, nor an easy undertaking. There’s a home-selling process, which includes finding a real estate agent, staging the home and gathering the essential documentation – all before you even receive your first offer.

But how long does it take to sell a house? Understandably, most people want their home to sell quickly, but the honest answer is that it depends. There are many factors that influence the amount of time that it takes to sell your home. Understanding the timeline and the possible hurdles of the home selling process can help put a “Sold” sign in front of your house quicker.

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Average Time To Sell A House

In May of 2022, the National Association of REALTORs® (NAR) reported that most homes for sale were on the market for an average of 31 days. By comparison, in May 2021, the average time that a house sat on the market was 37 days. Keep in mind, this median number is calculated based on the time from the listing date to the closing, pending or off-market date.

The amount of time that a home spends on the market largely depends on where you reside, among other factors. For example, reports showed that in May of 2022, houses in the Chicago, Illinois, area spent an average of 48 days on the market, while houses in the Seattle, Washington, area spent an average of only 5 days.

Timeline For Selling A House: Steps Of The Process And How Long Each Takes

While there are no hard and fast rules about how long it takes to sell a home, there’s a general timeline for each stage of the process.

Step 1: Hire A Real Estate Agent Or REALTOR® 

While a real estate agent is not required for selling a house, hiring the right agent for you can make the home selling process as smooth (and quick) as possible.

You can find a REALTOR® quickly by searching online but taking the time to select the agent who fits your needs as seller is worthwhile. The right REALTOR® will help you determine the best plan to sell your home and guide you throughout the entire process.

To conduct research, converse with different agents and check out their reviews can take around 1 – 2 weeks, depending on how many agents you want to meet.

Step 2: List The Property 

Now that you’ve found your real estate agent, or you’ve learned how to sell your house yourself, you can now price and list your home. This, of course, takes some preparation. Before listing your property, you’ll want your house to stand out on the market, so any required maintenance or prepping, including staging, should be done prior to listing. The effort is well worth it as staging can result in a higher asking price and even a quicker sale.

Your real estate agent can help with the staging process, scheduling showings for potential buyers and listing your home. They can also advise when it’s best to list your home, as the time of year impacts how long your home is on the market. The preparation to list the property and the listing launch can take 3 – 5 days, depending on the condition of your home.

Step 3: Accept A Buyer Offer

Your home has been listed and now you’ve received an offer! Now what?

When the offers start to roll in, the negotiations for the final selling price of the home will begin. Your real estate agent can offer advice on what to consider during the negotiation process. You can accept the offer as is, present a counteroffer or reject it.

If you receive an offer that is lower than what you’re looking for, there are other factors to think about besides the price. Cash offers, contingencies and preapprovals for a loan are important aspects to consider during the negotiation process. Once you establish a price that both you and the home buyers are satisfied with, you can accept the offer and take the next step in the process.

The time frame for accepting an offer varies, as some contracts have time limits that dictates how quickly each party must respond to the offer. If there is no time limit, responding within a couple of days is considered common courtesy. Depending on contractual time limits and negotiations, accepting an offer can take a few days or even a week.

Step 4: Get Your Home Appraised And Inspected

Now that you’ve accepted an offer, you may feel ready to kick your feet up and relax. But not quite yet – there could be a couple delays ahead.

Issues can arise during the home appraisal and home inspection processes. An appraisal ensures that your home is worth what you are selling it for, while home inspections check for any safety or foundational issues. If the home presents a lot of problems, buyers could walk away from the offer, or you must fix these issues prior to the sale closing.

The time frame for home appraisals and home inspections are, again, dependent on the condition of your home. The complexity of the appraisal weighs into the duration of the process, which could take a few days or weeks. Similarly, inspections may take only a couple hours to complete, but the writing of the report may take a day or two and amendments may need to be negotiated.

Together, both the appraisal and inspection period could take a few weeks.

Step 5: Negotiate Final Terms With The Buyer

The appraisal and inspection have been completed, but now both you and the buyer may have some final negotiations to work out prior to closing. If there are contingencies based on the appraisal or the inspection, be prepared to work with the buyer to negotiate any repairs that will need to be made.

Final negotiations should only take a day or two, if done efficiently.

Step 6: Close On The Sale

You’ve made it! You have closed on your home and signed over the house to the new owner. You’ll review and sign the closing documents during this time and be moved out of the house by the final closing date. The final step is the shortest of the entire process, as closing day should take no longer than a few hours.

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Factors That Affect How Long It Takes For A House To Sell

Now that you know the basic timeline of selling a home, it’s vital to understand what factors will affect how quickly your home sells.

Market State 

Both the local and national housing market conditions can impact on how long it takes to sell your home. If it’s a seller’s market, you can expect the average time to sell a house to be shortened. A seller’s market means the demand is higher than supply, putting home sellers in a good position to get their house sold quickly.

On the flip side, a buyer’s market means that the number of houses for sale exceeds the demand. Consequently, it may take longer for your house to sell, and you may have to provide more concessions when negotiating with potential home buyers.

Condition Of The Home

If you are looking to sell your home quickly, ensuring that the house is in good shape is essential. Houses that are not move-in ready can often be overlooked by potential home buyers, as most buyers are looking to move into a house that does not need major repairs.

Before listing, make any needed repairs and get your home ready for buyers. Having your REALTOR® assist with the staging of your home is a great way to ensure that your home is presented in the best light possible.

Location Of The Home 

While it’s not something you can change, the location of your home has a major impact on how quickly your property sells. If your home is in a sought-after neighborhood, your home is likely to sell quickly. It’s harder to sell a home that’s located in an undesirable neighborhood.

While you cannot change the location of your home, other attributes can keep sellers interested in your home. Quality school districts, strong communities and necessary amenities can pull in potential buyers.

Time Of Year 

The phrase “timing is everything” applies to selling your home. The “perfect” timing for listing your house for sale will depend on if you are ready to move and sell your home. However, there are certain times throughout the year that are better for selling than others. Market conditions, the seasons and even the school year influence the housing market.

Late spring through summer is typically the busy season for home sales. But be sure to check with your real estate agent as seasonality can vary by market. While listing in the summer could mean you have more interested buyers, listing in the winter could mean you have less competition with other home sellers.

How To Shorten Your Home Selling Timeline

While the housing market’s conditions, timing, the property’s condition and location impact how quickly your house sells, the process can be sped up with a few simple practices. Ensuring that your home is in good shape and set at a fair price can make the difference between selling your home quickly or having it sit on the market for a long time.

Prep Your Home’s Interior And Exterior 

Presentation is key, especially when you want to sell your home quickly. Ensuring that your home is staged well for display photos and open houses can draw more interest into your home. But properly prepping your home goes beyond tidying up.

Making necessary repairs, repainting interior walls to a neutral color and cleaning thoroughly makes a difference to potential home buyers. Having curb appeal also makes a lasting impact to those viewing your home’s listing for the first time.

Once your home has been properly prepped, having professional photos taken of every room and of different angles of the exterior can capture the attention of potential home buyers.

Set Your Asking Price Carefully

Working with your real estate agent to set your asking price sets you up for success before you even list your home. Pricing it at or just under market value can attract more offers, while overpricing it can force you to drop your price over time.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there’s no clear-cut answer to the question of how long it takes to sell a house. It all depends on your needs and goals as the homeowner. However, understanding the process of selling your home and the factors that influence how quickly your home sells can help set you up for a successful home selling experience.

 

To help this process move along, you can work with an experienced real estate agent, make necessary improvements to your home and price your home correctly. With a fluctuating market, it can still be difficult to get your house sold in a timely fashion. If so, you can always reevaluate and make a game plan to attract offers.

 

If you are ready to sell your home and buy a new one, get started online today.

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Mary Grace Schmid

Mary Grace Schmid

Mary Grace Schmid is a staff writer covering homeownership, personal finance and lifestyle topics. She has a B.A. in public relations from Baylor University with a minor in political science and enjoys photography, music and reading in her free time.