How Long Does it Take to Sell a House?

Generally speaking, this article refers to any piece of REAL property.

There are two statistics that it may be helpful to understand.  “Days On the Market” (DOM) refers to the current listing period while “Property Marketing Period” (PMP)  refers to the overall marketing time where the property has not been "off market" for more than 30 consecutive days.  The numbers vary geographically and by market segment (type of property, features, etc.).

There are 7 specific factors/ variables that will affect the length of time it may take to sell any specific property.  Some are controllable; others are not.  Know them, understand them and make the “odds” work for you!

1.    PRODUCT this refers to the property itself.  What is it exactly that you are trying to sell?  What does it offer (features/ advantages/ benefits) the prospective Buyer?  How does it compare to other similar (either in terms of features or price) properties?  Why should someone consider buying it?  As a Listing Agent one of my most important and most basic responsibilities is to ensure that the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) accurately portrays the features of your property.  Buyers will assess the “condition” when they view the photos online and when they visit BUT my job is to make sure that anyone, REALTORS or Buyers, looking for a property like yours can actually find it in their "searches".  Sounds easy, doesn't it?  Think of it as a Google search:  trust me when I tell you that this is where many listings FAIL!  I personally enter all of my property listings into the MLS because the MLS is the #1 source for connecting Sellers and Buyers:  the MLS "syndicates"/ "feeds" property listing information to the major Internet sites.  Two facts:  most Buyers use a REALTOR to assist them with the home-buying process, including identifying potential properties to consider, and well over 90% of Buyers, even those working with an agent, search online for property listings.  It is critical that the MLS information is 100% accurate if you want prospective Buyers and their REALTORS to be able to find your property in their “searches” (would you accept anything less?).  If your property cannot be found in a search it will not be shown and it probably won’t sell.  Unfortunately, most people will assume that the property is over-priced.  While a price reduction may be needed, lowering the price will not make the property easier to find if the listing information is inaccurate or poorly presented.  As far as the "product", every property has a price at which it will sell:  any money you spend on improvements (repairs and cosmetics) should accelerate the selling process and not add to the listing price.  If a property shows poorly or has major defects, only price can compensate.   The exterior upkeep is more critical than the interior as most agents ask their Buyers to “drive by” first to look at the neighborhood before seeing inside.

2.    PLACEMENT (LOCATION):  it cannot be changed.  Your specific location, its level of desirability AND the neighboring properties will significantly influence the selling price.  Some areas attract more Buyers (“Seller’s markets”); others do not (“Buyer’s markets”).  A good listing price can make the “odds” work for you in a slow moving market.

3.    PROMOTION:  another word for this is "exposure".  It cannot overcome problems in other areas and is a very misunderstood tool.  Poor “promotion”/ limited "exposure" can hurt your chances of selling!  There are three (3) real ways that Buyers will find your property:   the MLS, the Internet and “For Sale” signs.  Know them, understand them and make them work for you!

4.    FINANCING:  Sellers (and, frankly, Buyers) MUST understand that things are different today.  They need to know the challenges Buyers face and understand their local market to maximize their chance for success.  They may need to “assist” Buyers and/ or do mortgage-related repairs.  Buyers need to get “pre-qualified” up front and know their limits. 

5.    TIMING is it a “Buyer’s market” or is it a “Seller’s market”?  This can change from one location to another or from one time of year to another.  We can maximize our effort by understanding your market conditions and acting accordingly.

6.    COMPETITION:  Buyers decide which properties to see, how much they will offer and elect specific "terms and conditions" for one they like.  Ultimately a property is worth exactly what a “ready, willing and able” Buyer will offer for it ("fair market value").  Your house is a commodity to a prospective Buyer and must meet or exceed what the perceived competition has to offer.  Remember, the Seller determines the PRICE but the Buyer determines the VALUE.  Through my monthly updates you will see how your market is evolving so that you can make informed decisions about our strategy.  Most of my clients were unsuccessful with other agents before they met me and they tell me that their agents did not stay in touch with them, let alone keep them informed about the competition!

7.    PRICE:  this is the #1 factor in determining how long it will take to sell your property!  It is the only factor you can adjust (control) to compensate for the rest!  The listing period is an evolving process starting with an initial “snapshot” (CMA).  Every month you will see what is occurring within your market segment, you will know how often your property was shown and you will see any feedback I am given.  If you price too low, you won’t need me; if you price too high, there is nothing I can do for you.  We must get prospective Buyers to see your property and to want to make an offer!  Remember:  you determine your competition by where you price your house.  I personally guarantee that I will NEVER ask for a price reduction unless I can prove that my marketing works:  a Seller should not have to pay for poor marketing!  Generally speaking, houses that do not sell are either over-priced or poorly marketed!

My goal is to help you maximize your selling price by helping you understand how the market really works.  Sellers typically must balance two opposing concepts:  what is more important, how much they achieve OR how soon they sell?  A lack of showings or having many showings without an offer are both indicative of problems.  Remember, price is the only variable that you can control.  This should be good news because it puts you in control, if you want to be!

I will give you all the information you will need to sell your property and I will keep you informed throughout the process.  How fast I sell your house will depend upon how you use this information and what motivates you more.