Once you have decided to sell your home then the time starts to tick by. As you start going through your “ pre-sale checklist” you might start to think: how long is this going to take?” Well the typical U.S. home stays on the market for an average of 24 days, with an average of 46 days to close on a purchase loan. Well if you have done the math then thats a total of 70 days — or a little over two months — from listing to closing.
Now Your sale could be different
Now you might be thinking how can this be true for EVERY home. Well there are some things that can effect a sale because every house, neighborhood, market, and individual sale will vary in terms of days on market and closing timelines. Right now houses are selling swiftly but in the past that wasn’t always the case.
You also have to factor in any external influencers that can also create closing delays. In the current pandemic climate, some closings have dragged on time more like 60 days. With so many unpredictable factors influencing the number of days on market (DOM) and total time to close, it may seem like the timeline is one of the least controllable aspects of a home sale.
We’ve put together an in-depth guide to help you understand the process, pinpoint the biggest time-wasters, and learn what actions you can take to get from listing to closing as quickly as possible.
Prepping the house for sale (1-3 months)
As soon as you have made the decision to sell your home then the countdown begins way before you actually list your home
The amount of prep time will vary based on how much work and maintenance the homeowner has done in the past, but she estimates an average of about a month to get the house ready.
The process usually starts with the agent coming to the house and providing guidance on what needs to be done — and, more importantly, what doesn’t need to be done. This can be very helpful as sellers will often times waste their time on things that aren’t necessary or are things that won’t help to speed up the sale.
Below are some of the typical pre-listing preparations:
- Reduce clutter.
Consider using a service to remove any unwanted items and recyclables. If you have a lot of items you’re not ready to part with, then you should consider renting a storage unit so you can clear them out of your home for showings.
- Make small, low-cost repairs.
In the weeks leading up to listing, you will want to try and knock out as many small, low cost repairs as possible. of the consider working on projects like replacing any outdated or mismatched cabinet pulls, touching up scuffed paint, or fixing any leaking faucets. If you have a long list, then you might consider hiring a handyman who can knock them all out in one day.
- Crank up the curb appeal.
A well-maintained, welcoming entryway is key to a positive first impression. Take some time to mow, add fresh mulch, and clean up the landscaping. Consider adding some flowerpots to add brightness to the entryway.
What factors impact the selling timeline?
Once your house is listed, there can be a number of factors that can impact how long it will take to find a seller:
State of the market
Market forces and the supply and demand play a big part in how quickly your home will sell — and this just so happens to be a dynamic that you can’t control.
An experienced real estate agent can help set your expectations based on the estimated days on market and how many months of inventory are currently available in your area.
Condition of the home
If your home is overdue for some repairs or renovations that you opted to skip in the past, then this can deter buyers who are looking for something that’s move-in-ready. Also uncovering any previously unknown defects with the home will also trigger price negotiations and concessions.
An overpriced house will likely sit on the market for a longer time period, which could lead to a lack of offers or, ultimately, price reductions that dip below market value. If you do manage to get a contract at the higher price, then you could run into issues when it comes time for the appraisal.
So if the accepted offer is significantly above the appraised value, then bank will not approve the loan. So this will then require either a higher down payment from the buyer or the seller to lower their price, or risk having the deal fall apart and the listing going back on the market.
Price point can directly impact the selling timeframe. For example, depending on your location, a $200,000 home can typically sell in 30 days or less when priced, staged and marketed correctly, but homes at higher price points generally stay on the market longer.
Buyer’s financial situation
Cash offers are great, but they’re not the norm. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 88% of homebuyers financed their home purchases. Even if everything else goes smoothly, there’s always the chance of the buyer’s loan getting delayed or falling through.
An experienced agent (or lack thereof)
By having a full-time agent that has experience successfully marketing and selling homes is the best way to shrink the time gap between listing and closing.
Tips for speeding up the sale
While you might not be able to control things like a buyer’s financial situation or the state of the market, there are still some actions you can take to help accelerate the sale.
Find a good agent with a track record for fast sales.
This is the most effective tool that you can have in your selling arsenal: an agent who knows the local market and can help you sidestep the common obstacles that can slow down the process. Be sure to check a prospective agent’s average DOM and compare it to local averages to gauge their track record for successful sales.
Resist the urge to do major renovations.
Spending time and money on major upgrades has been shown to not yield a higher return on the final sale price. In fact, it could even wipe out any equity you might stand to gain. Examples of major projects to avoid include those that are more cosmetic than functional, such as renovating a kitchen or bathroom, adding a three-season room, or putting in a master suite addition.
Enlist any Contractors Early.
If your home does need any repairs or upgrades then you will want to line up any necessary contractors as soon as you decide to sell, because they are very busy right now and will have long lead times.
Keep it Clean
You will want to ensure that any clutter is cleared out and that there’s not too much furniture crammed into homes. Buyers like open, spacious rooms that are easy to navigate. They should be able to envision their stuff or ways to make it their home and having too much of your stuff (especially clutter) can make that more difficult.
Get a pre-listing inspection.
This provides the opportunity to identify any potential issues early on, so you can get a head-start on any necessary fixes prior to the buyer’s inspection.
Even though You will have to pay for this out of pocket, undergoing an early inspection will allow you to address any issues rather than waiting until just prior to closing. Now if there are no material defects found, then you can state that on the listing and require that all offers waive the usual inspection contingency.
Be flexible with scheduling.
If you want to sell fast, it’s best to accommodate any requests for open houses, showings, inspections, and appraisals to keep the momentum going and prevent buyers’ interests from wandering elsewhere.
Selling a house can often feel like a race against a very unpredictable clock—but by knowing what to expect and having an experienced agent working on your behalf, you could save yourself days or even weeks of waiting.