When you decide to sell your house, you will often hear real estate agents say that they will get your house sold quickly and for top dollar.
Who wouldn’t like that?! Everybody wants as much money as they can possibly get, and most people would prefer not to have buyers coming to see their house for months on end, so, the quicker the better.
But what defines quick? Well, there is no absolute definition and it depends upon a few factors. It can mean a few days, weeks, or even months, depending upon how the market is in your area, the price range of your home, and the choices you make as a seller.
Over the past couple of years, it probably seemed like every house was selling within a few days of being listed for sale. While many houses were selling that quickly, not all of them were.
In fact, according to this FRED data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the lowest median days on market last year was 31 back in May, but it was as high as 62 days on market back in January of 2022.
Looking at that data, you can see how the days on market fluctuate up and down over time, and even during “hot” markets the number of days houses are on the market can vary greatly.
So when you hear news about houses taking longer to sell, you might want to take it with a grain of salt. The number of days on market has been climbing since last May—and recently hit 75 days in January—but it is not that big of an issue.
It is only an issue if you have the wrong expectations, which could easily happen if you are not aware of the actual data and think that houses sell much more quickly than they actually do on average.
Mind you, these are the median and average numbers we’re talking about. So there are some houses that sell more quickly, and others that are taking longer than the median or average numbers, and these are also based upon national data, not your local area.
To some degree, the amount of time it takes for houses to sell is cyclical and driven by the market, which neither you or your agent can control. But if you want to sell your house as quickly as possible, here are a few things you can control:
Know the local average days on market.
You can’t entirely control how long houses are taking to sell due to market conditions, but you should at least know how long it is taking on average for houses in your area and price range to sell. This will help to ensure you and your agent are on the same page, and have a sense of how long to expect your house to be on the market.
Price your house appropriately.
One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is to overprice their house. This is easily one of the biggest causes for houses to linger on the market.
Make it easy for buyers to see.
It can be annoying to have buyers wanting to come see your house on various days and times. But the more agreeable you are to letting as many buyers come at the most convenient time to them, the more quickly your house will sell.
Adjust the price if necessary.
You will almost always see the most serious buyers in the market and your price range come through your house in the first week or two of listing it. If you are not seeing much activity, interest, or an offer in that time frame, it is probably (although not definitely) a sign that you need to reduce your price. Discuss with your agent whether it is just a matter of being patient at the price you are at, or the activity is an indication that your price is too high and needs to be reduced.
Average Sale Price of Houses Sold By Census Region
The FRED graph below shows the average price of single-family homes in the four Census regions. Homes in the Northeast are about twice as expensive as in the Midwest or the South, with the West in between. Why so? It could be that the houses have different characteristics (e.g., size and amenities), but it more likely has to do with the location.
There is a lot of talk about houses taking longer to sell. It is true that the number of days it takes to sell a house has risen from a median of 31 days in May of 2022, to 75 in January of 2023, but that is not even a big deal, as long as you are aware of the data. It is only an issue if you have unrealistic expectations that your house will sell in less time than it is likely to take, or you make choices that will cause it to take longer.
So, if you are planning on selling, make sure you know how long it is taking in your local area and price range for houses to sell on average, and do what you can to work with your agent to control how long it takes by pricing your house appropriately, making it easy to see, and quickly assessing how the market reacts to your house after a couple of weeks on the market.
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