How long does it take to sell a home?

The question of market time – how long a home has been on the market and how long sellers should expect it to take to sell their home – is one of the most vexing and perplexing in real estate.

The short answer is that there is no short answer, but there are some rules of thumb.

Higher-priced property typically takes longer to sell than lower-priced property. The meaning of "higher-priced" varies from one sub-market (e.g., Winnetka, Highland Park) to another and from one property type (e.g. single-family, condo) to another.

If you arrive at a value-range estimate for the price at which a home will sell, it will generally sell more quickly if priced toward the lower end of the range. Pricing it below the lower end of the range can sometimes result in a very quick sale – or cause the property to linger on the market: buyers and agents and agents may suspect that there's something wrong with the home.

Property that's in pristine condition is more likely to sell quickly than property that's not. Property that's marketed properly is more likely to sell quickly than property that's poorly marketed.

All of these are common-sense truisms that, surprisingly, sellers often ignore on the misguided assumption that their home is special in a manner that's perceptible only to them and therefore exempt from the normal rules.

I'd offer one piece of advice to sellers who want to sell quickly: hire a busy, highly-experienced agent and do exactly what he or she tells you to do. Don't risk hiring a rookie on the misguided assumption that he or she has more time to devote to selling your home and will be more motivated to succeed.

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