Selling a Home: How Long Does It Take to Sell a House?

You can picture it now – a big bold SOLD sticker pasted over the FOR SALE sign in your front yard. You need to sell your house. You want to sell your house. So how long does it take to sell a house?

If you live in New York City, your house could be on the market for over 135 days if you use the traditional selling process. NYC is one of the markets where houses sell the slowest. On Long Island, New York, nearly 77 percent of houses were on the market for over a month in April of this year.

The good news – there are other ways to sell your house in a much shorter time. If you live in one of these areas where the average days on the market doesn’t fit your timeline – check out your options. You may be able to sell your home in 30 days. Besides the market where you live, other factors impact the average time to sell a house in that market. Let’s take a look at five different variables that will determine the number of days that a house is on the market.

Listing Price

The most important factor in selling your home is the asking price. And there are different factors that affect the asking price. A home that potential buyers perceive as a good value for the money will sell quickly. A home perceived to be priced over its value will not.

Your home is valuable to you. You’ve made great memories there. You’ve lovingly cared for your home over the years. You’re a proud do-it-yourselfer and customized your home to your unique tastes.

Why wouldn’t potential buyers see the same value in your house as you?

Psychologists describe this belief as the endowment effect – we think our stuff is more special than other peoples’ stuff. Sellers often think their property is far more special than buyers do.

Here is an analogy. You believe your kid or your dog is the absolute best kid or dog in the world. When someone else doesn’t see what you see, it can be disappointing. Right?

This will sound harsh, but…get over it. The price of your home is not determined by how you feel about your home. Some of the key factors that drive pricing on houses are:

  • A historical sales price or what your house has sold for in the past
  • Comparison sales or houses recently sold in your market that are like your house
  • Inventory or the number of houses available in your market

If selling your house is stressful, pricing your house might be the most stressful aspect of the selling process.

Market Conditions

Are you in a seller’s market or buyer’s market?

A seller’s market is when the demand for a particular product or service is higher than the supply. If you’re selling your house, this might be the ideal time to sell.

You know you’re in a seller’s market if:

  • High demand from buyers
  • Few houses on the market so not much competition
  • Rising housing prices
  • Multiple offers on a house
  • Buyers more willing to compromise on contingencies

A buyer’s market is when there is more supply than demand. In the housing market, that means there are more houses on the market than there are buyers. This gives buyers more power to negotiate price.

If you’re in the market to buy a house, this might be the right time to buy. You know you are in a buyer’s market if:

  • Low demand from buyers
  • Many houses on the market
  • Pricing reductions
  • Slow sales and short sales
  • Seller’s more willing to compromise on contingencies

2019 is predicted to be a buyer’s market even though a lender’s mortgage rates are at their highest level since 2011.


When you bought your house, you probably had a particular neighborhood or city in mind. One of the first things a real estate agent will ask a buyer is where they want to buy a house. Some important aspects of a house’s location are its proximity to:

  • Work – how long will the commute be for the potential buyer?
  • Desirable shopping – banks, grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants
  • Cultural centers and parks
  • Good schools – whether or not the buyer has children, schools always factors into the resale value

Appearance, Condition, and Age

At the end of a hard day of work, you want to come home to your own little oasis. Home buyers have watched HGTV and many have high expectations of what they can get for their money.

Buyers want a good-looking house in good condition. They want value for their money. Curb appeal matters. First impressions of your house start outside.

Is the landscaping tidy?

Does the house need a fresh coat of paint?

Buying a house is an emotional process. When buyers pull up to your house, they will get a feeling, and you want that feeling to be positive.

If curb appeal gets buyers to come inside, high-quality construction will keep them interested. But if buyers see problems – a leaky roof, sloping floors, old wiring – they may lose interest. Are you willing to invest in the necessary upgrades?

If your house is in poor condition and you need to sell it without making any upgrades, there are buyers out there that are willing to buy houses ‘as-is’.


You could sell your house 20 days faster in most areas of the country if you list your house during the first two weeks of May. Why is spring time so popular? Generally, families want to move during the summer break.

There are exceptions to this. The best time to sell a home depends on the market in which you’re selling. If you live in New York City, data shows that listing your home in June leads to selling your house 21 days faster than if you listed it any other month.

Alternatives to the Traditional Selling Process

The traditional selling process isn’t for everybody. You may prefer listing the house yourself to avoid realtor commissions. You may need to sell your house immediately for any number of different reasons:

  • The bank is threatening foreclosure.
  • You’re filing bankruptcy.
  • The property is damaged.
  • You inherited property but you’d rather have the cash.
  • The house violates codes.
  • You’re getting divorced.

The answer to the question of how long does it take to sell your home can be answered with two words: it depends! Learn more about your options when it comes to selling your house.

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