How Long Does It Take to Sell a House?
Location, price, and other factors can affect your home sale
How long does it take to sell a house? According to Zillow, most homes remained on the market for an average of 65 to 93 days in 2018, from listing to closing. This was way down from 140 days in 2010 on the heels of the mortgage crisis.
Thirty days are built into this time frame to account for the period between the seller accepting an offer and closing, so sellers waited about five weeks for the right buyer to come along.
Calculating Average Days on Market
Most real estate agents know the average number of days on market by heart in their neighborhoods, so all you have to do is ask. But you can calculate the number yourself by figuring out the day each home goes on the market in a given month, then counting the days to pending to determine.
Add the number of all those houses together and divide the total by the number of homes.
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. Your house might come on the market the same day a specific buyer is looking to buy exactly the house you're offering for sale.
More likely, however, it depends on one or more factors.
How Much Are You Asking?
Some agents will price the house a little under market value to entice multiple offers, which ultimately tends to push the price higher. More than one offer tends to drive up the price because competition breeds desire.
Price range makes a difference, too. Homes in lower ranges often sell faster than those in higher price ranges simply because there are more buyers who can afford lower-priced homes.
Passionate, determined buyers will often pay more than the asking price.
Location, Location, Location
The old adage "location, location, location" is true. There will be more demand for a home that's located in a highly desirable neighborhood near excellent schools than for a property that's located on the wrong side of the tracks near a toxic dump.
Homes that front the freeway involve their own particular set of challenges. The sellers who own these homes have often become oblivious to the location because they've simply adjusted to the noise and the view, but a new buyer sees the situation clearly and might logically be turned off.
Additionally, homes in metro areas tend to sell more quickly and more often than those in rural areas, according to Zillow: 16% of home sales were rural in 2018, while 33% were located in urban areas. Suburbia rules at 51%.
And the west side of the country is statistically better than the East Coast. Data gathered in 2018 indicated that homes sold fastest in:
- Olympia, Washington: 47 days
- Boise City, Idaho: 48 days
- Ogden, Utah: 48 days
- San Francisco, California: 49 days
- Salt Lake City, Utah: 49 days
They sold the slowest in:
- Naples, Florida: 148 days
- Atlantic City, New Jersey: 125 days
- Fort Myers, Florida: 122 days
- New York, New York: 118 days
- Hilton Head Island, South Carolina: 111.5 days
These statistics don't include rural areas.
The Home's Condition
Homes in tip-top shape that sparkle and shine sell much faster than homes that need repairs or are cluttered. Homebuyers have to be able to imagine how they'll live in that 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.
Market Temperature Affects Time to Sell
Homes tend to sell faster in sellers' markets because there are more buyers than sellers. This increases competition among buyers. A bidding war can result with offers coming in above list price when more than one buyer is trying to buy the same property. It's not unusual for a house to sell in less than a week in this type of market.
Buyers have more choices and can take their time in buyers' markets. A buyer will pass over that not-quite-perfect property and keep looking. Patience is key if you're a seller in this type of market.
Buyers will often attempt to offer less if a listing lingers on the market for longer than 30 days, erroneously believing this gives them cause to low ball.
Days on market can also depend on when you list your house for sale as well.
Most people aren't actively looking to buy a new home during the December holidays, and the weather can be a factor in some climates at this time as well. You might have to tack on additional time until January or even February, but spring often causes a spike in sales as families' kids are finishing up their school years.
Summer is the preferred time to close and move for families with children, but this doesn't always hold true in states like Florida and Arizona where summers tend to be sizzling. Winter can be perceived as the time to pack up and move in these areas.
There's no firm or fast rule for all 50 states, but do take the season into consideration for your locality.
The overwhelming majority of sellers were represented by real estate agents in 2018, according to the National Association of Realtors, but half of all buyers, literally 50%, found the properties they ended up purchasing on the internet. Only 28% found them through their agent. Notably, the typical sale surveyed here was on the market for approximately three weeks.
Zillow. “What Is the Average Time to Sell a House?” Accessed March 23, 2020.
National Association of REALTORS. “A Buyers’ and Sellers’ Guide to Multiple Offer Negotiations.” Accessed March 23, 2020.
ATTOM Data Solutions. “Top 10 Best Days of the Year to Buy a Home.” Accessed March 23, 2020.
National Association of REALTORS. “Seasonality in the Housing Market.” Accessed March 23, 2020.
National Association of REALTORS. "Quick Real Estate Statistics." Accessed March 24, 2020.