FAQ: “How long will it take to sell my house?”

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What’s the average Days on Market in my neighborhood? (In other words, how long will it take to sell my house?)

In real estate-speak, “days on market,” (DOM) means how many days it takes from the day a house goes on the market until the day it goes “under contract” (that is, when a buyer and seller agree on a purchase contract). Of course, after a home goes under contract, there are still a few pesky details to deal with like inspection, appraisal and loan approval which can take another 30-60 days, but the official DOM statistic refers to the date the listing is changed from “Active” to “Under Contract.”

I’m asked this question a lot, both in casual conversation and when I’m speaking with a potential home-seller. Obviously, the home-seller wants to know how long it’s going to take to sell his home and plan accordingly.  And I SO wish I had an answer for him! Wouldn’t it be lovely if I could confidently tell a home-seller that he’ll need to plan for a 60-75 day marketing time and a 30-45 day contract period?

But that’s just not reality. I’m not saying that we can’t sell your house in 60-75 days or that a 30-45 day contract period is unrealistic; what I’m saying is that typically the average DOM statistic is pretty meaningless.  In Loudoun County, the average DOM for June was 36.  The Median was just 14.  That means half of the homes were sold in less than two weeks!  However, there were also homes that were on the market for over 365 days before going under contract.  Currently, there is a property in Loudoun that has been on the market for a whopping 3,020 days!  Not to mention, those homes that never sold and were taken off of the market.

Perhaps a better question is “What can I do so my home is in the best position to be sold quickly?”  The longer a home is on the market, the less likely it is to sell and most certainly, the less likely it is to get you that full-price-or-close-to offer you’re hoping for!

There is an energy in a newly listed home that dwindles significantly once you’re past the 30-day mark. When a home is fresh on the market, everyone is excited… and that excitement truly is palpable in the air. The owner is all revved up and is diligently cleaning the cat litter box and wiping up his toothpaste spit. He dutifully leaves the home for showings and is happy to accept showings on short-notice. He cheerfully bakes cookies for the Sunday Open House and offers to help his agent put up her Open House signs.

Hopefully, the agent is also excited. She’s proud of her new listing and can’t wait til her Internet marketing kicks in and the inquiries start to flow. She loads her photos and descriptions onto the MLS, Realtor.com and Craigslist. She puts up her Open Sunday! sign rider. She produces beautiful home brochures. She follows up with every single showing and immediately reports the feedback to her seller (at least we hope this is what your agent does).

After 30 days… the energy is gone. The homeowner is tired of showings (or the lack thereof). He’s sick of cleaning the house before he leaves for work every day, tired of no-show buyer agents, bored with the same old feedback. He heats up Chef-Boyardee for lunch and doesn’t even rinse the dishes (ick). He refuses showings on the weekends. He demands open houses, but doesn’t even make the beds beforehand.

Unfortunately, the agent is also a little less enthusiastic about her Fabulous Listing. She’s probably dissapointed with trying to follow up for feedback and getting nothing useful. She’s tired of explaining to her seller why no one showed up to the open house. Mostly, she feels bad that she hasn’t done her Job and sold the house, like she promised she’d do. She starts to wonder if maybe, just maybe, she blew it on the price or, just as likely, wishes she’d never given in to her seller’s pressure and agreed to HIS price. She knew better. Drats.

The market is certainly less enthusiastic about the Fabulous Listing. There’s a whole different feeling when the buyer asks his agent “How long has this been on the market?” and the answer is: “8 Days” versus “63 Days” or even “122 Days.”  Who’s gonna pay full price for a 3-4 month old listing? It doesn’t matter if you Just reduced the price, now nobody is going to pay what you’re asking.

So, how can you sell a house in 30 days?? Stay tuned…

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