8 Factors that Influence How Fast Your Home Will Sell

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Wondering “how fast will my home sell?” You’re not alone. Many people who decide to sell their home are eager to get the job done as soon as possible but aren’t sure exactly how long the process will take from start to finish.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) shares that the average property sold within 21 days of listing in 2020. Mortgage giant Ellie Mae reports that the average home loan purchase takes 46 days. Altogether, this puts the average time from listing to closing at around two months.

However, generalized data points don’t give sellers a full picture of the home sale timeline or account for your specific situation. If you want a more precise projection of how fast your home will sell, there are several factors to consider. We dug into research and consulted a top real estate agent to provide you with the eight factors that determine how quickly your home will sell.

A city where a home can sell fast.
Source: (Matt Jones / Unsplash)

1. The average sale times for your area

One major factor influencing how fast your home will sell is location. This is true on a macro level, with homes in some cities selling up to 13% faster than the national average.

On a micro level, your neighborhood and property’s proximity to schools, parks, and other amenities also has a significant impact. Amy Zeitz Bailey, a top-selling real estate agent in Louisville, KY, with more than 33 years of experience, comments:

“It’s just like the old adage, ‘location, location, location.’ Homes that are in particularly desirable neighborhoods or near good schools can sell within hours.”

To look up how long it usually takes for a home to sell in your city, you can use HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell Calculator. For a more accurate estimate that takes your specific location into account, reach out to a local real estate agent. An agent with years of experience selling in your area will have an intimate knowledge of how quickly homes like yours sell in your area.

2. Local housing supply and demand

As with any marketplace interaction, home sales are heavily influenced by the balance of supply and demand. When the demand (buyer pool) is greater than the supply (houses), homes tend to sell faster, and vice versa when the opposite is true.

Nationally, the inventory of available single-family homes has reached a five-year-low and is unlikely to recover anytime soon, according to Bloomberg. Likewise, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates that new home construction will not increase during 2021, based on the availability and cost of building materials. On the ground, 87% of agents in HomeLight’s most recent 2020 Top Agents Survey agree that inventory is lower than expected, compared to 47% of agents asked a year prior. However, specific circumstances like a new housing development in your neighborhood might make you the exception that proves the rule.

Buyer demand also influences how quickly homes sell. Nationally, buyer demand is currently high due to record low mortgage rates. Other factors that influence demand include population growth and economic factors such as job growth rate.

Again, these data points are helpful, but general trends can’t exactly describe your situation. For example, Bailey shares that commuters usually want to live within a half-hour of their workplace. So, if a new business or school has recently opened near your home, people will almost certainly want to move into your neighborhood, increasing demand and leading to quicker sales.

3. The condition of your property

A 2020 survey from Coldwell Banker found that 80% of Americans say they’d prefer to buy a move-in ready home that doesn’t require any renovations. Similarly, NAR’s 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reports that only 6% of buyers say they are looking for a fixer-upper type property. So, if your home isn’t in excellent condition, you’ll have a smaller pool of potential buyers, increasing your probable overall sale time.

Furthermore, if your home is in poor condition, you may run into unknown repair issues during the inspection process. The NAR’s 2020 Confidence index shows that 16% of closing delays are due to home inspection issues. Not to mention, some buyers will walk away from a deal entirely if the inspection reveals that the house needs major repairs.

A bedroom in home that will sell fast.
Source: (Jason Boyd / Pexels)

4. Staging and cosmetic appearance

Your home’s appearance also influences how fast it will sell. You’ll want to make your property look as inviting as possible with light cosmetic upgrades such as fresh paint, decluttering, deep cleaning, and staging.

The Real Estate Staging Association reports that staged homes typically sell 73% faster than non-staged homes. HomeLight’s Top Agent Insight Report echoes this finding, with 83% of agents agreeing that a staged home sells faster than an unstaged home; over 21% of agents say staged homes sell as much as 6% to 10% faster.

“A professional stager can come in and make a huge difference,” Bailey comments. “They have a great eye for it and often have props that they can bring in to bring out your home’s best features.”

5. Your listing price

Listing price plays a key role in how fast your home will sell. In HomeLight’s report, 70% of top agents agree that overpricing is one of the biggest mistakes sellers make. If you price your home significantly above market value, you’ll receive fewer offers, meaning your home will likely take longer to sell than if you priced it accurately. Additionally, an overpriced home may not appear in your target buyers’ online searches if they set the upper price limit filter below your listing price.

On the other hand, listing your home too far below its value can cause buyers to worry that something is wrong with it.

Bailey suggests pricing your home slightly below its fair market value (within 5%) to entice buyers looking for a good deal. Not only will this speed up your home sale, but it can also start a bidding war, potentially netting you even more money for your sale. Our 2020 Top Agent’s Survey found that 87% of homes sell for higher than asking price after a bidding war.

6. The expertise of your real estate agent

Your real estate agent is critical to a quick sale. They’ll help you pinpoint a competitive listing price and market your home effectively to reach buyers. Your agent will also guide you through paperwork, pricing strategies, preparations and repairs, and all of the other hard work involved in selling a home.

Your agent’s expertise in these tasks influences your home sale timeline. Our research shows that the top 5% of real estate agents sell homes for as much as 10% more than the average agent. To find a real estate agent in your area who has a proven record of quick sales, plug your home details into HomeLight’s Agent Finder.

7. Your standards for accepting an offer

At the end of the day, the seller holds the reins on whether or not to accept an offer for their home. Sellers who are focused on getting the highest price possible might choose to wait until they receive the perfect offer. Sellers who want to sell as fast as possible may accept an offer  quickly and attempt to negotiate the terms in their favor.

The strength of the offer you accept also plays a role in how fast your home will sell. Generally speaking, cash offers close faster than mortgage-backed offers since it takes time for a lender to process a buyer’s loan application. According to the NAR, issues with financing cause 35% of closing delays.

A seller meeting with a buyer to sell a home fast.
Source: (Kaleidico / Unsplash)

8. Whether you sell to a traditional buyer or a direct-buyer

According to NAR, 89% of sellers choose to sell their home on the market to a traditional buyer. However, sellers who prioritize speed and convenience over net proceeds may consider selling their home to a direct-buyer instead. Direct-buyers such as buy-and-hold investors, iBuyers, and fix-and-flippers, purchase homes as-is for cash. This means, as a seller, you bypass pre-listing prep work like decluttering, staging, or managing repairs, shaving weeks to two months off the selling timeline. In most cases, sales to investors close within two weeks.

If you want to see what a cash buyer would pay for your home, plug your home details into HomeLight’s Simple Sale. We’ll gather cash offers from our network of pre-approved buyers and connect you with the highest bidding buyer within 48 hours. We’ll also show you a side-by-side comparison against an estimate of how much you could sell your house for on the market with the help of a top agent.

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