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How Long Does It Take To Sell A House (2024)

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How long does it take to sell a house?

This question is answered in detail in this two-part guide: part one is for those awaiting a buyer, and part two for those who have entered into a contract.

If you’re starting the selling process, you’ll find it beneficial to explore both sections to gain a comprehensive overview.

Table of Contents
How long does it take to sell your house

We aim to provide a detailed account of the timeline from receiving an offer to the final closing.

Our journey will span from the initial home appraisal to the moment you hand over the keys.

We will discuss the various elements that influence the timeline, including seasonal trends, the type of house, your local market, and potential legal or title issues.

And we’ll provide actionable tips on how to manage each of these factors.

1. Routes to Sell Your Home

When selling your home in the U.S., two main types of professionals can assist you.

  • Traditional Real Estate Agents

The most common choice for selling a home is through a real estate agent. In 2020, the average time for a real estate agent to secure a buyer was 10 weeks, though this timeframe can vary significantly.

  • Cash Home Buying Companies or Private Cash Buyers

Another option, less familiar to some, are cash home buying companies. These can be an excellent choice if you need to sell your home quickly.

In the following sections, we will explore what you can expect from each route.

If you’re selling with a Traditional Real estate agent

The selling process begins the moment you list your house for sale.

The efficiency and effectiveness of your chosen realtor can significantly impact how quickly you can sell your home. 

This impact is less pronounced if your house is in a highly sought-after area, is similar to surrounding homes, and comes without significant issues.

However, if your home might present more of a challenge to sell, choosing the right agent becomes crucial.

Home Appraisal

The first step with your agent will be the home appraisal, where they evaluate your house to suggest a listing price.

It’s wise to invite three different agents to give you a comprehensive perspective. This not only gives you a range of potential prices but also allows you to gauge the agents’ selling strategies and experience. 

You’ll also have the chance to meet them in person, and ask them lots of questions about their selling process, their experience, and how quickly they can get moving.

Appraisals typically last about 30 minutes to an hour, with the duration often depending on the size of your house. A quick, in-and-out visit might indicate the agent isn’t the right fit for you.

2. What is the quick answer to to the time it takes to sell a house?

Well, there is no straightforward answer as it hinges on many factors. These include market conditions, the pricing of your home, its condition, and even how effectively you and your realtor communicate and negotiate with potential buyers.

Let’s take a look at some common concerns and challenges homeowners face when selling their home. We’ll review the best case vs worst case scenario.

Best Case Scenario

Worst Case Scenario

Selling A Home "As Is"

In the best-case scenario, listing your home "as is" attracts a buyer who sees the potential in your dwelling. They make a reasonable offer that reflects the home's condition, understanding the value of making their own improvements.

Your home sits on the market with little interest due to its condition, and the offers you receive are significantly below what you had hoped for.

Home Inspections

A buyer's home inspection goes smoothly, with no significant issues uncovered, or the buyer is willing to take on repairs themselves, keeping the sale process on track.

Major issues are found during a home inspection, leading to a breakdown in negotiations, a reduced offer, or the buyer walking away entirely.

Managing Buyer Expectations

You find a buyer who appreciates the unique character of your home and is looking for exactly what you're offering, whether it's a renovation project or a home with lived-in charm.

The home fails to attract buyers looking for move-in-ready households, and you find yourself having to make price concessions to attract interest.

Emotional Aspects of Selling

While selling your home is bittersweet, you're able to manage your emotions and see the process as a positive step forward, and the buyers respect the sentimental value of your home.

The selling process becomes emotionally draining as you deal with lowball offers or potential buyers who don't appreciate the home's value, leading to frustration and stress.

Timing The Market

You time the market perfectly, listing your home when demand is high and supply is low, leading to a quick sale at or above asking price.

You list your home during a market downturn or when competition is fierce, leading to a protracted selling period or forcing you to accept a lower price.

Dealing With The Unexpected

Even if unexpected life events arise, the market conditions are in your favor, allowing you a swift and profitable sale, alleviating any added stress.

An unexpected event forces you to sell under less-than-ideal conditions, possibly requiring you to accept a lower offer or deal with a more stressful selling experience.

Legal and Regulatory Hurdles

All your paperwork is in order, and there are no zoning or legal complications, making for a straightforward and efficient closing process.

Encountering unexpected zoning issues, missing documentation, or legal snags delays the closing process and could potentially derail the sale.

The urgency to sell your home quickly is often influenced by personal circumstances or market dynamics.

It’s perfectly natural to want a swift sale, and it’s important to know that it’s OK if your house doesn’t sell the moment it’s listed. There are actionable strategies to help accelerate the process.

Remember, a fast sale doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on price or convenience; with the right approach and expert advice, you can effectively attract serious buyers and streamline your path to closing.

By preparing for various outcomes, working with professionals and knowing what to avoid when selling to a cash home buyer, you can increase the chances of experiencing a best-case scenario when selling your home.

How Long Does It Take To Sell A House : Pre-Listing Activities

Upon selecting an agent, they’ll need to perform a few tasks before your home can be marketed:

  • Drawing up contracts for your signature.
  • Organizing professional photography for your house (discuss whether the agent or a professional photographer will take these).
  • Crafting the description for the online listing.
  • Securing an Energy Star Certification or ensuring you have any required disclosures or inspections completed, such as a home inspection or a natural hazard disclosure, depending on state laws.
  • Creating a floor plan if you don’t already have one.

These steps are generally completed within a couple of weeks. Delays may occur, but you can help expedite the process by quickly signing contracts and facilitating access to your home.

 

Marketing Your House

Once the preliminary tasks are completed, your agent will put up a “For Sale” sign, unless you prefer not to have one.

A sign can attract local interest, benefiting from foot or vehicle traffic in your area.

That way, you’re targeting both passing traffic and people actively looking online.

Showings

Efficient agents might begin promoting your house to potential buyers even before all marketing materials are finalized, building a list of eager buyers.

This proactive approach targets buyers who are ready to make a quick purchase decision.

The number of showings required to sell your home can vary greatly, influenced by your home’s location, condition, and market demand.

US averages over the past few years have ranged between 10 and 25. 

In some cases, your agent might organize an open house to streamline viewings, potentially leading to multiple offers.

If there are a lot of positive responses on the day, it may go to ‘best and final bids’. 

This is where buyers are asked to come up with their best price straight away rather than trying to haggle. 

You may receive a selection of offers to review that day.

Naturally, it doesn’t always work like this. Some homes are harder to sell, and we’ll explore reasons for that in the next section.

If you’re using a cash home buying service

This option is crucial if you need to sell urgently.

Cash home buying services are the fastest way to secure a sale, as they purchase homes in any condition.

This speeds up the process considerably as it avoids traditional financing delays. Because they buy with cash, there are no lengthy mortgage applications to wait for.

Sometimes, house buying agents are able to exchange and complete on your house within 10 days.

Transactions with these services tend to close quickly, compared to the average of 10 weeks with a traditional agent. 

However, be prepared for the possibility of receiving a lower offer for the convenience and speed of the sale.

Some people find the lower price is worth it in exchange for a very quick sale.

This might particularly apply to you if it’s costing you money to run or keep the house.

Let Hardy Assist You

Get Trusted Advice

If selling your home quickly and stress-free sounds right for you, contact us. Our service is all about linking you with reliable, local investors who know your neighborhood and are open to meeting in person. Click below to find out more.

3. Understanding The Type of Home You Are Selling

Do you want to know an easy way to estimate how quickly you can sell a house?

Picture this: is your place nestled among other similar houses?

Does it sit in the heart of hustle and bustle, where families are always on the move? I

If you’re nodding yes, then jackpot! You’re probably sitting on a hot ticket item with a crowd of eager buyers.

This usually translates to a quick sale time.

If the above doesn’t apply, read on to explore the different factors that will affect how quickly you can sell a house.

Location

The paramount factor affecting your sales speed is undoubtedly its location.

In the U.S., real estate in:

  • Major cities like New York, San Francisco, or Chicago
  • Suburban areas with top-rated schools
  • Or desirable rural locales

often sell rapidly, sometimes even on the day they’re listed.

Many realtors in such areas maintain waiting lists of potential buyers, possibly eliminating the need for extensive marketing.

Conversely, houses near busy roads, airports, or industrial areas, as well as those in remote locations, may take longer to sell. 

The challenges posed by location are best mitigated by focusing on the positives. It’s your realtor’s job to keep buyers focused on the benefits and not the downsides.

Pricing Your Home Right

Next to location, the asking price significantly influences sale speed. 

Underpriced homes attract quick interest, while overpricing narrows your pool of potential buyers, prolonging the sale process. 

With abundant property value data available, setting an accurate initial price is crucial. 

Overpricing can not only deter buyers but also result in your property being overlooked as newer listings emerge on platforms like Zillow or Realtor.com.

And the longer a house sits on the market, the more people might think something is wrong with it.

The Age Of The House

The age of your house is another consideration. 

Older homes may intimidate some buyers due to potential higher maintenance costs and energy inefficiencies.

However, these homes often appeal to a niche market that values character and historical features. 

Ensuring your realtor highlights these aspects can turn a potential drawback into a compelling selling point.

Proximity to Transportation

Most people wouldn’t choose to live adjacent to major highways or rail lines. Easy access to transportation is a significant plus, especially for working professionals.

Houses with convenient access to major roadways or within a reasonable walking distance to train stations are particularly attractive to this demographic.

4. How To Sell Your Home As Fast As Possible

You’re likely wondering, “So how do I get my house sold as fast as possible?”

The key lies in understanding the factors that can lead to a swift sale.

From setting a realistic price that reflects current market conditions to ensuring your home makes a strong first impression, each step is crucial.

However, if speed is your top priority and you’re open to flexibility on price, considering a cash buyer could be your best bet.

Cash transactions often bypass the complexities of mortgage approvals and can close much faster than traditional sales, making this a compelling option for those who value efficiency and convenience in the selling process.

EXPERTS’ INSIGHTS

Mike Wall, Real Estate Investor

"The reach and quality of your marketing efforts can directly impact how quickly your home sells. Utilizing professional photography, virtual tours, and a comprehensive online presence can attract a wider audience. Also, tapping into the power of social media and real estate platforms enhances visibility and speeds up sales."

Tips for Maximizing your Home type

  • Pricing Strategy: It’s often more effective to start with a slightly lower asking price to stimulate buyer interest and potentially drive up the final sale price through competition.
  • Pre-Sale Renovations: Consult with your realtor on whether to invest in updates before selling. Some homes are more appealing as fixer-uppers, while others benefit from minor cosmetic improvements to attract buyers seeking move-in-ready properties.
  • Staging and Presentation: Minor updates like a fresh coat of paint, new carpets, or updated lighting fixtures in neutral tones can significantly enhance your home’s appeal without necessitating extensive renovations.
Tips For Selling Your Home Fast

5. Best Time Of Year To Sell Your Home

You might be surprised by how timing influences the timeline for selling your home. 

Seasonal factors such as summer vacations, school calendars, and the holiday season can impact both the appeal of your home and the complexities of the transaction process. 

Typically, the journey from an accepted offer to closing spans about 12-16 weeks, but holiday schedules can stretch these timelines.

If your house is still on the market

The holiday season, particularly around Christmas, often introduces delays in the real estate process. 

While real estate offices and law firms typically remain open until Christmas Eve, they usually do not reopen until the first working day of the New Year. 

This break can result in a week of downtime with no showings or inquiries.

That being said, the Christmas period can be a good thing for house sellers. 

Many potential buyers spend this time at home, browsing listings online like Zillow or Realtor.com and reevaluating their living situations. 

It’s also a time when people tend to reassess their lives and make plans and resolutions for the New Year. 

This can lead to a surge in market activity once offices reopen in January.

After this initial burst, interest may wane. The colder, dreary weather of February and March often makes homes less attractive. 

This is especially true in coastal areas where winter’s gloom can diminish the allure of beachfront real estate.

The Best Time To Sell

May is often considered the optimal month to sell in the U.S. Houses tend to sell faster and for higher prices compared to other times of the year.

According to ATTOM’s analysis of single-family homes and condo sales over the last decade, homes sold in May achieved a seller premium of 12.8 percent above their market value.

The favorable weather, coupled with people feeling optimistic post-tax season and the onset of school vacations, contributes to this trend.

Early summer always comes with its pros for the market, with gardens in full bloom. 

But for families, when it gets to August, they feel it’s too late to move house as it would mean relocating their children during the school year, potentially waiting until the next summer to consider a move.

If you’ve agreed a sale Around The Holidays

Like their office schedules, legal professionals in the U.S. often take breaks around major holidays, which can affect closing processes.

The period leading up to and just after Christmas is particularly tricky. If issues arise close to the holiday—like moving company mishaps or banking delays—it can lead to significant disruptions due to office closures.

Legal advice during this time often includes avoiding completion dates too close to Christmas.

It’s wise to schedule closings well before or after the holiday rush to avoid complications.

Tips for Timing Your Sale

  • Consider Your Buyers: If your target demographic is retirees, timing may be less critical. However, for families with school-aged children, listing earlier in the year is advantageous.
  • Communicate with Your Legal Team: Establish your attorney’s holiday schedule as soon as you engage their services. Knowing their availability can help prevent unexpected delays and ensure smoother progress toward your closing date.

6. The Title And Escrow Process in U.S. Real Estate

The title and escrow process covers the legal aspects of selling a home.

This stage is where real estate agents earn their keep.

They serve as the main point of contact between you, the buyer, and your respective attorneys. This role is often referred to as “transaction coordination.”

Your realtor will also keep tabs on the local government for search information, mortgage lenders, and surveyors, ensuring that all parts are moving as needed.

Selling with a Traditional Realtor

This section is devoted to explaining the steps after you have:

  • Accepted an offer from your buyer.
  • Received a written confirmation of the sale agreement from your realtor.
  • Noted that your realtor has ceased marketing and conducting viewings of your home.
  • Both you and your buyer have engaged legal representation.

There are numerous moving parts at this stage, and the more links in your chain of buy-sell transactions, the more complex it gets.

This complexity is why the process can often span several months.

Understanding Your Chain

In real estate terms, your “chain” refers to the sequence of buyers and sellers involved in your transaction. 

The average chain involves two to three links. For example, if you are selling to someone who is moving out of their parents’ house or a rental, they have no prior house to sell, hence they are not part of a chain.

However, if you are selling to someone who needs to sell their own home first, this introduces a third party into your sale – your buyer’s buyer. 

This third party might have their own house to sell. 

Now, you have four parties involved in your chain. Each link may require mortgage approvals and title searches, each introducing potential complications and demands.

The shorter your chain, the quicker your home sale should proceed. 

One of the most significant ways a chain can disrupt your sale is if a link breaks, such as if your buyer’s buyer pulls out of the deal.

This means your buyer can no longer purchase your home, and you may have to wait for them to find a new buyer, or you might need to go back on the market to find a new buyer yourself.

Cash buyers with no chain

Finding a cash buyer with no chain is an ideal scenario in house selling.

Cash transactions are simpler: there are no banks waiting to approve mortgages. However, even in cash transactions, certain steps like inquiries and local searches are still necessary.

We’ll explain both of these in more depth below. 

But for a quick answer to how long it takes to sell a house to a cash buyer with no chain, you should be looking at weeks – not months.

Mortgage approval Process

Most buyers in the U.S. will not have enough cash on hand to purchase a home outright and will need to obtain a mortgage. 

It is ideal for prospective buyers to have a mortgage pre-approval before making an offer. 

Realtors often prefer to deal with buyers who have obtained this pre-approval, as it demonstrates that they are financially serious and capable. 

A pre-approval means that a lender has already reviewed the buyer’s financial situation and agreed, in principle, to lend a certain amount, subject to a final review and appraisal of the home being purchased. However, obtaining a pre-approval is just the beginning. 

The final hurdle is the appraisal process, where the lender evaluates the home to confirm its value is adequate to secure the loan. 

If the appraiser determines the home’s value is less than the agreed purchase price, this can result in the lender adjusting the offer downward, a scenario known as “down-valuing,” or potentially refusing to lend altogether.

Handling Down-Valuing

There are several solutions if a home is down-valued.

You could reduce your asking price to meet the appraiser’s valuation, the buyer might seek a different lender, or you could re-enter the market looking for a new buyer, possibly a cash buyer. 

These options, while viable, can be time-consuming.

The best thing to do is accept the lower price. 

And the quickest way to skip the mortgage hurdle altogether is to sell your house through a home buying agent.

Inquiries and Local Searches

Pretty much everyone who’s been through a house purchase has seen the attorney’s fees and winced at the numbers. 

The fees might seem steep, but their work involves detailed inquiries you might not know to ask—about boundaries, tree responsibilities, access issues, and any disputes or needed local authority searches. 

These searches are aimed at ensuring there are no planned developments that could affect your home. 

Depending on your local government, these searches can take anywhere from two weeks to six. This part of the process can significantly impact the overall timeline.

One of the first things your buyer’s attorney will do after the sale agreement is to send you a list of inquiries. This might include things like:

  • Who owns the walls, borders, or fences surrounding the home?
  • Who is responsible for any trees on or near the home?
  • Where is the legal access to your home? Do you own the road leading to it? Have there been any access issues in the past?
  • Have you had any disputes with your neighbors?
  • Information about your HVAC system and any safety inspections it has undergone.
  • Any zoning or building permits that have been applied for, approved, or denied.
  • Have there been any issues with flooding, drainage, or foundation stability?
  • Is there a septic system or sewage treatment facility on the home’s premises?

Getting these questions responded to quickly (and honestly) helps speed things up.

There is usually a second round of inquiries. There may be several if more clarification is needed.

This gets less likely the more clear and detailed your responses are in the first place.

Title Searches

During the real estate buying process, title searches are indeed a common and necessary part of buying a home. 

Here’s how they work and why they’re important:

Title Search Purpose: The primary purpose of a title search in the U.S. is to ensure that the seller has a clear title to the home and can legally transfer ownership without any issues. 

This includes checking for any liens, encumbrances, or claims on the house that could affect the buyer’s rights.

Conducted by Title Companies: Title searches are typically conducted by title companies. These companies specialize in examining public records to verify ownership history, and they check for any legal actions or unpaid taxes associated with the house.

Protection through Title Insurance: Following a title search, buyers are often required (especially if they are obtaining a mortgage) to purchase title insurance. This insurance protects the buyer (and lender) from any future challenges to the ownership of the home that weren’t found during the initial title search.

Impact on Transaction Timeline: While title searches are crucial, the time they take can vary. Most are completed within a few days to two weeks, but complications such as discovering unresolved property issues can extend this period.

Mandatory for Mortgaged and Cash Purchases: Whether a buyer is using a mortgage or paying with cash, conducting a title search is generally advised to ensure legal protection. Refusing a title search is possible in cash transactions but is risky as it exposes the buyer to potential undisclosed issues.

Local Regulations and Development Checks: Title searches in the U.S. also involve checking local land use codes, zoning regulations, and any other restrictions that might impact the property. These checks are typically handled by separate entities or departments within local government.

Agreeing on dates

The final stage in selling your home is coordinating the closing dates. 

In the U.S., the process typically culminates in a single closing day.

This is the definitive “no going back” day — failing to close as scheduled can result in a breach of contract, and potential legal repercussions.

Closing day is critical as it locks in the sale and transfers ownership. This date is usually negotiated to accommodate all parties involved, including any necessary adjustments for logistical considerations.

Real estate agents play a crucial role in this process, coordinating between the buyer’s and seller’s schedules to find a mutually agreeable date.

Scheduling the closing can be complex, as it often needs to align with moving services, personal schedules, and sometimes even the end of a school year or work commitments. The closing agent or attorney typically manages the actual transaction, handling the exchange of documents and funds.

Flexibility is key during this stage. Delays can occur if parties insist on specific dates that do not work for others. Compromise is often necessary to ensure a smooth transition.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to ensure that you can move into your new home as planned, and all parties can conclude their parts of the transaction satisfactorily.

If you’re using a cash home buying service

Using a cash home buying service eliminates the typical complications of selling your home. 

You don’t need to rely on a traditional buyer, thus avoiding the need for lengthy mortgage approvals. 

There are no risks of a sale chain collapsing, no disputes over closing dates.

And since it’s a direct cash transaction, there’s no waiting for title searches to be completed.

Tips for handling the title and escrow process

  • If you’re evaluating multiple offers, prioritizing a buyer without a sale chain can be highly advantageous. 
  • Often, it’s wiser to accept a slightly lower offer from a buyer without a chain than a higher offer from someone whose purchase depends on selling their current home.
  • It’s crucial to have an attorney prepared to handle your transaction as soon as your house goes under contract. This allows them to start on the necessary documentation immediately.
  • Many real estate professionals recommend working with a local attorney. They’re typically more familiar with regional issues and may have established relationships with local government offices, which can expedite the processing of your documents.

Let Hardy Assist You

Get Trusted Advice

If selling your home quickly and stress-free sounds right for you, contact us. Our service is all about linking you with reliable, local investors who know your neighborhood and are open to meeting in person. Click below to find out more.

We aim to support as many homeowners as possible. That’s why we’ve put together this detailed guide. If you’re planning to sell your home, contact us at hello@homesalehardy.com.

Based on your needs and circumstances, we’ll connect you at no cost with one of our thoroughly vetted, ethical partners. They will assist you in selling your home for the most realistic price possible. 

They handle all legal details and fees, and you’ll receive the payment directly into your bank account. Our partners can facilitate a very quick sale or a more extended timeline if you’re not in a hurry.

While quicker sales typically fetch a lower price, they do save you time. 

Ultimately, the best approach depends on your personal needs and preferences.

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide provides valuable insights into the home-selling process. Being well-informed may not always speed things up, but it can certainly help you understand and manage the process better.

Understanding the potential duration to find a buyer, you might opt to bypass the traditional complexities of selling a home. 

Many find that avoiding the stresses of a prolonged sale and the intricacies of the title and escrow process is well worth considering alternatives like cash home buying services.

 

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