So, you have decided you want to or need to sell your house. After coming to that conclusion, your next logical question is usually, how long will it take to sell? It is not as simple as just selling your house.
There are several factors that can affect the selling time line. This time line can range from several months to just a week or two. Having some baseline knowledge of these options can really give you a good foundation to make a well-informed decision. The traditional route can take several months but the quickest way to sell your house fast is to contact a professional “as is” house buying company.
But you can speed up the house selling process just by being aware of a few simple factors.
10 Factors That Take Time When Selling a House
Here are some of the key factors that will dictate how long it takes to sell your house and receive a check (cash):
- Listing Price
- Condition of the house / property
- Current real estate market conditions
- Cash buyer vs mortgage buyer
- Sell in “Move-In Ready” or “As-Is” condition
- Using a real estate agent or selling it yourself (FSBO)
- Title Issues
- Buyer Contingency
On average it takes around 5 months to sell a typical house. All the above factors can and will come into play during the normal course of selling a house.
According to Claire Stiegemeier of Magnolia Real Estate in St Charles Missouri, here are the average time frames a seller can expect:
- 2-4 Weeks to prep your house (without any major repairs or updates)
- 8+ Weeks for the house to go under contract with a serious buyer
- 5-8 Weeks to close once you have a buyer
You can do the math. Once you decide that you want to sell you house it can take almost half of a year to finally collect your money. Many factors can make this process even longer. Below are 10 major reasons why it can take longer to sell your house.
If you do not want to wait that long or if you cannot wait that long then selling to a professional cash home buyer can be a great option. Some home owners have the ability and need to stretch out the home selling process and that is their decision. There are many reasons to speed up this process and we will get into them shortly.
Some of these factors can be controlled by the homeowner and others are completely out if their control. Let’s go over each area one by one and then you can decide which route you would like to take and how fast you really want to sell your house.
1. House Listing Price
The price that you list or “ask” to sell your house at can be the leading factor as to how fast you sell it. If you list your house higher than any other house in your area and your house is not any bugger or nicer, then it will take your house longer to sell. A potential buyer will not pay more for your house if there is no logical reason to do so.
Depending on the price range you house is in can also affect the selling timeline. For example, if your house is over $500,000 it will usually take longer to sell than a lesser priced house.
Finding houses that are exactly like yours can be hard, you may have to make adjustments up or down based on what the end buyer is typically looking for.
It can help to study the pictures of the current houses for sale in your market and ask yourself.
- What type of floor plans do they have?
- What type of color schemes?
- What type of flooring do they have?
- Are the windows new looking?
- Are the roofs in great shape?
- Are the kitchen and baths up to date with newer cabinets and countertops?
- Do they have basements and are they finished off for living?
Then look around your house…how does it stack up compared to what you are seeing? Be honest!
So where do you get comparables? You can use sites like Zillow.com, FSBO.com or Homes.com to get an idea of what homes are currently listed for in your area. The better/ more accurate way is to ask a real estate agent for some comparables. Make sure to explain the exact condition and facts about your house. Don’t “fluff” up the features or numbers because this will just lead to your house selling slower.
A main factor that the person running the comps will need to know is if your house is going to be sold in “move-in ready” condition or are you going to sell it “as-is”? This can change the pricing wildly when comparing your house to what has recently sold and currently listed.
To summarize, if you list your price too high it can take several months or several price reductions to sell your house. If your house is not in the proper condition to coincide with your asking price, it can take a long time to sell. Knowing the condition of your house, how it compares to the market, and having a realistic price plan can all affect the time it takes to sell.
2. House Location is Key
A common real estate phrase is, “What’s are three most important factors? – Location, Location, Location”. Location can be one of the most important factors in relation to how fast your house sells.
The location of your house will have a lot to do as to the final sales price of your house and the amount of time it will take to get to that sales price. Is your house in a desirable area with great schools, markets/groceries close by, parks, entertainment and so on? Or is it located near railroad tracks, derelict buildings, poor schools, high crime area, noisy highways, etc…?
Are there a lot of potential buyers that want to live in your area? In general, clean, quiet areas with good schools come of the market faster than any other. Many people look for houses based on zip codes and schools. You can ask a real estate agent how fast houses are selling in your zip code and school district.
3. Condition of the House / Property
It can take time to “prep” your house before you put it on the market. Do you need to spend time cleaning out items, fixing minor or major issues, or updating areas like the kitchen or baths?
Some houses are in good shape but have not been updated in several years. If your home has not been updated in a while, it will take longer to sell or you will have to greatly reduce the price to sell in a reasonable timeframe.
Certain buyers look for different types of finishes, but in general the house needs to painted and all fixtures/ finishes recently updated.
If you want to get top dollar for your house and it is not updated, this can put a long extension on the process. Most people do not have the time to fix up the whole house, so they end up hiring out the work. This cost a lot of money and a lot of time. If you elect to do your work yourself, that will usually cost less but may end up taking more time. If you want to sell and get your money quickly, with an outdated house, selling to a cash home buyer may be the best option.
4. Current Real Estate Market Conditions
The real estate market has historically been very cyclical.
When there is numerous sellers and few buyers it can take much longer to sell your house (several months if not a year). This is called a “Buyer’s Market” because the few buyers have all the control. They can take their time in deciding which house to purchase.
If there are more buyers than sellers then it is called a “Seller’s Market”. This gives the advantage to the sellers since the buyers have fewer houses to pick from and demand it high. You might hear stories where someone put a house up for sale and had 5 offers within just a couple of hours.
When the markets shift there is a period of time when the buyers and sellers are more or less equal and the market appears normal.
The real question is what type of market are you in? Is your neighborhood or zip code experiencing a hot seller’s market or a slow buyer’s market?
To answer this, you will want to know the “days on market” for your zip code (neighborhood) and price range. The lower the days on market means it is more of a seller’s market and the higher that number is means it is a buyer’s market.
What does this mean to you?
In a seller’s market you can be picky on what type of buyer’s offer you might accept. Do they have a long inspection period? Are they trying to qualify for a government loan which can take longer?
If your area is experiencing a buyer’s market, then your house might sit for months without an offer. You might have to decide on how low you are willing to go on your price to find a faster buyer. Price will still dictate how fast your house will sell even in a buyer’s market. The better the bargain the faster the sale, that is where professional “as is” house buying companies come into play.
5. Mortgage Buyer vs Cash Buyer vs Professional Cash Home Buyer
Most people are familiar with a mortgage buyer, the most common type of buyer. In this situation the buyer must obtain financing to purchase your house. Claire Stiegemeier, with Magnolia Real Estate STL, says that 80-85% of all house buyers will use a mortgage in their home purchase.
However, there are cash buyers as well. These people have either saved up enough money, they have recently sold a property and now they are looking for another one, or they are people or companies that purchase property as a business and have the financial means to purchase without financing. There are very few individuals that are cash buyers, most cash buyers are businesses.
So how does this play into the time line for purchasing a house?
If a buyer is applying for financing in order to purchase your house, it can take 1 to 3 months to complete the transaction. Most commonly it takes around 45-60 days.
Why does it take so long? The speed is dictated by the mortgage underwriters and their requirements, how fast the buyer responds to information requests, and how fast inspections / repairs can be made.
Depending on the type of loan, your house will have to be inspected to make sure it qualifies under the loan underwriting requirements. This can mean the type of house and the condition of the house. It is hard to change the type of house so that will be a quick, yes or no, as to whether it qualifies. But you might have to make repairs to enable your house to qualify for the buyer’s loan.
If you do have to make repairs, then you have the time it takes to make the repairs and how long it takes to schedule a reinspection.
The ultimate closing date is usually set by the lender and not when you want to close.
- FHA Buyers
- According to FHAHandBook.com it can take up to 2-3 months on the long end to close on a house if the buyer is using FHA financing to purchase your house. This can seriously delay a fast house sale. And this is on top of the 2 months it took to find a buyer.
- VA Buyers
- Traditional Buyers
- Anyone purchasing a house by using a mortgage will slow the process down because it normally will take 30-50 days for financing to fall into place.
Cash home buyers make up less than 10% of all house purchases.
A cash home buyer that is going to occupy the property upon closing will usually still have inspections. The inspections and any repairs can slow down the transaction by several weeks. But they are not required to follow any underwriting requirements or wait for underwriting to be completed.
Professional Cash Home Buyer
With a professional cash home buyer there isn’t any delay in closing the sale of the house which means you would receive your cash as fast as possible which can be in as little as 7 days, for companies like FasterHouse. However, some professional cash home buyer companies take a little bit longer. Professional cash home buyers usually do their own inspections and can close when you want to whether that is 7 days or 3 months.
In most cases, you don’t even have to clean out the house before the closing, so when I say 7 days, I mean from thinking about selling your house to having cash in hand.
As a seller this is completely up to you. If you would like to spend some time packing and figuring out what you would like to take that is fine. This option usually gives you, the seller, control over the time frame to sell.
6. Sell in “Move-In Ready” or “As-Is” House Condition
Do you, the seller, want to receive top dollar for you house or do you want to sell it with the least amount of hassles?
“Move-in ready” condition generally refers to the buyer being able to move right in without updating or making any kind of repairs. The home will have already passed occupancy and municipality inspections.
Whereas, “as-is” condition is just like it sounds, someone is buying the house as it sits in its current condition. No repairs or updates will be done by the seller. Generally, these homes are not able to be moved into. They are in very rough condition and require a lot of repairs to pass inspections and be lived in.
How does this impact how fast a house will sell? Let me ask you another question. . . How long will it take you to repair or update your house to compete against the current housing market?
If you are planning to sell your house for top dollar, you will have to “out-do” all the competition. Meaning your house will have to be better than all the other houses in order for you to get an offer quickly at the top end of the pricing.
You will have to budget weeks, if not months, to get your house in top showing condition, assuming your house is not in top notch condition. This can impact your time line before you even put the house on the market.
OR are you just going to sell your house “as-is” for a lower price to save all the time it would take to repair and update? This can very easily net your as much or more than doing the repairs yourself.
By selling your house “as-is” you can take weeks, if not months, off the selling time frame. Plus, once you have it under contract you don’t have to worry about any inspection repairs which can add several weeks to the closing date.
If the seller wants to do inspections that is fine but it should have no bearing on the time line for the closing date. Depending on the home condition and the seller’s time frame, selling “as is” can greatly benefit the seller’s pocket and state of mind in a positive way.
7. Home Inspections
Whenever you sell your house there can be a couple inspections or many inspections required to actually close on the property.
Here are some normal inspections:
- Pre-selling inspection (if the seller opts for one)
- Buyer’s inspection
- Loan related inspections
- Municipal occupancy inspection
- Termite inspection
- Sewer lateral / private well / septic inspection
- Hazardous materials inspection (lead paint, asbestos, mold, etc…)
- And any re-inspections after repairs if needed
Pre-Selling Inspection (optional)
As the seller, you can opt for a pre-selling inspection of the house so you don’t get any huge surprises once you have a buyer in place. This would take place before you list or put your house up for sale so it doesn’t really change how long it would take to sell your house and close unless you discover major issues that need to be addressed before you put the house up for sale.
The main negative to a pre-selling inspection is that you will have to legally disclose all the issues that were found to any potential buyers which can scare buyers off making it harder and longer to sell your house.
It is very common for a prospective buyer to order and pay for their own 3rd party house inspection. This will give them a clear sense of what they are purchasing and they will sometimes try to use any issues that are pointed out as leverage to renegotiate the purchase price.
Normally a buyer will have up to 10 days to have inspections done.
Depending on what, if any, issues are found it can delay your closing date by days or weeks or even cause your buyers to back out completely causing you to have to start all over again finding a buyer.
This can also trigger other specialized inspections which would fall outside of the normal 10-day inspection period that is in most sales contracts. Specialized inspections might include hazardous material inspection, having a sewer lateral camera inspection, having a septic tank and drain field inspection, or having a well inspection. (see below)
Loan Related Inspection (FHA / VA / First Time Home Buyer programs)
Government backed loans have their own inspections that are required to make sure the house and property fit the parameters of the loan. This can cause the seller to have unexpected repairs before the house can be sold.
Municipal Occupancy Inspection
For the safety of homeowners / buyers, most municipalities have an occupancy inspection in which a municipal inspector will go through the house and give a report to the seller on anything that needs to be addressed before the house can be occupied.
This can lead to some fixes that can take time to repair which can add to the closing time frame.
Once the repairs are made there will have to be a re-inspection by the inspector to make sure all work was completed as outlined in the first report.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but a termite inspection is very common. Most of the time you, the home owner, will know if there are termites in y our home and will have treated for them. However, it is not uncommon for the homeowner to be unaware of termites that may come up in a buyer’s requested inspection.
Sewer Lateral / Well / Septic Inspection
These inspections usually take place after the buyer’s initial inspection. If there is any issue with any of these then it is usually very expensive to fix the issue. Or the buyer will request a large concession off the sales price in order to account for this repair.
Hazardous Material Inspection
If during a regular inspection it is noted that you might have some hazardous building materials in the house then there will usually be a specialized inspection for just that issue.
This can add onto your time frame because it can be several days to get an expert into the house for these types of inspections.
Depending on the outcome of the inspection you can either move forward with the sale or you might have to add several weeks to remedy the situation.
Or worse case scenario, the buyer backs out and you have to start all over again trying to find and buyer and now you must legally disclose what the hazardous issue was to any new buyers.
With any inspection if they find an issue, the seller will be required to repair the issue if it directly effects occupancy by the buyer. This can add a week or so to your closing time frame depending on how busy the inspectors are.
Some repairs can be completed after the new buyers have moved in but this is not typical and requires special circumstances.
If you sell to a professional cash home buyer, they usually do their own inspections and they are not concerned with it passing occupancy, so this does not slow down the selling time frame at all. FasterHouse is one of those companies that never requires and inspection.
8. Using a Real Estate Agent or Selling It Yourself (FSBO)
There are 2 ways you can go about selling your house. Each way has potentially different benefits and potentially different pit falls.
Real Estate Agent
If you go this route, make sure to choose someone you trust. There are a lot of agents out there, any many good ones, but make sure to pick someone who has a proven track record.
One benefit of using an agent is their connections that they have built up over time to make the process of selling your house run smoothly and quickly as possible.
A great agent can speed up the time it takes you to list and eventually sell.
Most agents that make a living in real estate have built up a buyers’ list over the years and they know exactly who might be interested in your house.
The draw back can be paying the commissions which are usually in the 6-7% range. You will have to decide if an agent can sell your house fast (on your time frame) and for 6% more than you could.
For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
Selling your house on your own can save you thousands of dollars on commissions but can also lose you thousands of dollars in loss due to lack of knowledge of the whole process.
For example, if you have a house that should sell for $200,000 with a real estate agent but you decide to sell it on your own then you could sell it for $188,000 and receive the same amount of money. The difference is the 6% commission.
Theoretically it should sell faster since you are asking “below market”. But the question can be, do you know what the market actually is?
If you are new the house selling process, this might save you some money but cost you weeks since you will not know exactly what to do and when to do it.
- You will have to have a solid marketing plan ready to go.
- You will need connections at a title company to help speed the title work.
- And you will have to be in constant contact with your buyer to make sure everything is being handled in a timely manner.
BUT you do have an option that real estate agents rarely talk about – using a professional cash home buyer. You do not need a real estate agent if you are using a professional cash buyer.
- They do not charge a commission because they are buying your home.
- They have all the connections to make sure the transaction runs smoothly and on your time frame.
- You don’t have to make any repairs or updates.
- And you can have your house sold in as little as 7 days with cash in your hand!
9. Ownership Title Issues
If there are any title issues such as liens or encroachments, your sale can be delayed for many weeks in order to get the situation resolved. It is usually best to the closing title company or closing attorney (depending on your state laws) do a quick title search to see if there are any issues.
Any issues found with the title will have to be cleared up before a title company will issues a new title insurance policy on that property.
If you are selling your house to a professional home buyer, they can usually help clear any issues up. They have 100s if not 1,000s of housing transactions under their belt and know exactly who can handle a given issue. This can ensure a speedy house sale.
10. Buyer Contingent Offers
Many buyers have to sell the house they are living in, in order to be approved from a bank to buy the house you are selling. When this happens, a buyer will usually want a contingency in the contract that gives them time to put their house on the market, get it under contract, and sold around the same time period as buying your house. This can delay the actual purchase of your home by weeks or even a month or longer.
If you are selling a “starter or first-time buyer” house it rarely happens, but if you are selling beyond that price range it can easily be an issue which can increase the time frame for actually closing on your house and receiving your cash proceeds.
As a seller you can decide not to take any contracts with contingencies like that, but you are decreasing the pool of buyers.
Things That Can Delay Your House From Selling – Red Flags
- House price starts off too high
- Buyer backs out during the 10-day inspection period
- Buyer’s financing falls through
- The type of loan the buyer is using can add at least a month
- House failing an inspection and the repairs after
- Buyer contingency to sell their house
- Poor marketing strategy
- Type of housing market
If you are wanting to sell your house fast, you have to first decide what “fast” means to you. Then you can use the different topics covered in order to figure out the faster way through the maze of selling your home.
The easiest and most streamlined way of selling your house fast is going to be using a professional cash home buyer by contacting a We Buy Houses type company.
FasterHouse is a Simple, Fast, Selling Solution
In the you are looking to sell your house fast in the St Louis area, give FasterHouse a call today to get the process started so you could have cash in your hands in as little as 7 days! (314) 926-0660
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FasterHouse has been helping sellers to sell their houses fast since 2002 and have become The Trusted St. Louis Home Buyer.