How Long Does It Take to Sell a House?

Location, price, and other factors can affect your home sale.

Couple unloading boxes from moving van
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How long does it take to sell a house? According to Realtor.com, most homes remained on the market for an average of 56 days in August 2020, from listing to closing. Homes sold 8% faster than they did a year prior.

It took the average buyer 45 days to apply and close on their mortgage loan that month. Since this occurs after an offer has been accepted, this means the average seller only had to wait around 11 days to find a suitable buyer.

Calculating Average Days on Market

Most real estate agents know the average number of days on market in their neighborhood by heart, so all you have to do is ask. But you can also calculate the number yourself by figuring out the day each home goes on the market in a given month, then counting the days pending to determine. Add the number of all those houses together and divide the total by the number of homes.

Most real estate platforms show a home’s days on market clearly in the listing. It may be abbreviated “DOM” in some cases.

What Makes a House Sell Quickly?

Sometimes there's no logical reason for how long it takes to sell a house. It could happen quickly out of sheer luck (a buyer is simply in the right place at the right time), or it may be the result of one or more factors below.

How Much Competition Is There?

Homes tend to sell faster in sellers' markets—when inventory is low and buyer demand is high. This increases the competition for properties and may even push prices higher.  

Here’s an example: In August, more than 71% of offers submitted by Redfin in San Francisco were met with competition. Those bidding wars caused homes to sell in just 24 days and for about 3% over listing price that month.

In buyers’ markets, when there are more options to choose from, shoppers can bide their time and wait for the right home. Homes tend to take longer to sell in market conditions like these. 

Your agent may want to price the house a little under market value. This can entice multiple offers, which ultimately leads to a faster sale and push the sales price up.

Location, Location, Location

The old adage "location, location, location" still rings true. There will be more demand for a home that's located in a highly desirable neighborhood near good schools, restaurants, or businesses than for a property that's located in a less opportune area.

Here’s a look at the fastest-selling locales as of June 2020:

  1. Rochester, N.Y.: 29 days
  2. San Francisco-Oakland: 32 days
  3. Colorado Springs, Colo.: 32 days
  4. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah: 34 days
  5. Nashville-Davidson, Tenn.: 34 days
  6. Boston-Cambridge-Newton: 35 days
  7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.: 35 days
  8. San Jose-Sunnyvale, Calif.: 36 days
  9. Boulder, Colo.: 36 days
  10. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.: 37 days

Realtor.com has up-to-date DOM data on all the country’s major metros. Head here to see what the average stats are for your market.

The Home's Condition

Homes in tip-top shape will typically sell faster than homes that need repairs or are cluttered with personal belongings. Buyers have to be able to imagine how they'll live in a house, and they'll have a hard time doing that if the home looks like it belongs to you, or if it's a mess.

A quick solution to this problem involves clearing out half the furniture. Large pieces can overwhelm a space and make the area seem smaller. You might want to tuck away those family portraits on the walls, too.

Seasonal Factors

Days on market can also depend on when you list your house as well. Most people aren't actively looking to buy a new home during the winter, and the weather can be a factor in some areas, too. Overall, November, December, January, and February tend to be the slowest times for home sellers.

Those months also tend to be less profitable. Research shows that home prices are lowest in the fourth quarter of the year.

Spring and summer tend to be the best times to sell a house, as many families want to move before the new school year begins. In fact, according to Zillow, the best time to sell is the first half of May. Homes listed during this period sell six days faster than average.

Seasonality can vary by market, so do your research or talk to an agent about what you can expect in your area.

Your Agent

If you’ve chosen to list your home using a real estate agent, this can also factor into the speed of your sale. Your agent’s marketing tactics, experience, and overall market know-how can all play a role in how quickly you find a buyer and at what price you sell.

The average agent has about nine years of experience and at least some college education, but not all agents are created equal. Make sure to interview at a few options before determining who will list your property.

Key Takeaways

  • The speed at which your home sells will depend on a handful of factors.
  • Your market, the time of year you list, the condition of your home, and your agent will all play a role.
  • You can help your home sell faster by prepping your home, timing your sale appropriately, and choosing an experienced real estate agent to help.

Article Sources

  1. National Association of Realtors. "Market Summary - August 2020." Accessed Oct. 1, 2020. 

  2. Ellie Mae. "August 2020 Origination Insight Report." Accessed Oct. 1, 2020.

  3. Redfin. "San Francisco Housing Market." Accessed Oct. 1, 2020. 

  4. Redfin. "More Than Half of Redfin Offers Faced Bidding Wars in August as the Housing Market’s Competitive Streak Continues." Accessed Oct. 1, 2020.

  5. Redfin. "What Is a Buyer's Market vs. a Seller's Market." Days-On-Market Trends Accessed Oct.1, 2020. 

  6. Journal of Housing Research. "Is there Seasonality in Home Prices—Evidence from CBSAs." Page 5. Accessed Oct. 1, 2020.