Real estate questions: How long does it take to sell a house? How hard do realtors work as their listing gets older?

Real estate questions

Real estate questionsI get lots of real estate questions by email, sometimes through my blog, but usually “straight out of the blue” email. I encourage real estate questions. I always answer.

I love to blog and I’m always thinking about real estate issues to blog about. Here’s a recent real estate question:

Q: Does the amount of effort my realtor puts into selling a property drop at a certain point after the listing is started? I get the impression that agents work hard for the first three weeks and then back off.

A: Earlier this year I went into our local real estate database looking around for trends. I was hoping to find out what type of houses were selling, what neighbourhood, age and style of house and that sort of thing – one thing about real estate is we have lots of data! What I discovered though was true across the board, varying a little by neighbourhood, but not a lot. I found that if a property was going to sell, it had nearly a 40% chance of selling in the first 20 days and about a 60% chance of selling in the first 40 days. After that it was a long tail covering the next 90+ days for an eventual sale. My research did not include houses that did not sell.

What this means is that the first three to six weeks is the most critical time. Most offers come in the first few weeks. If the house does not have an offer in the first few weeks, the price could be too high or there is something else hindering an “easy sale”.

You have to think about it like this. There are active buyers in the market. They got started before you did. They have already seen everything else that’s for sale and when your listing comes up they can make a decision quickly.

For your realtor, that means that much of the buyer activity happens at the beginning of the sale too. He’s busy arranging showings, holding open houses, putting the final touches on marketing, scheduling showings with other realtor…much of the activity happens in the first three weeks. It may appear that he “backs off” after that and in a sense he does. Listings are really front loaded. I doubt that agents give up the marketing, but most of the work really is in the first weeks of getting a listing.

I was talking to a home seller on the telephone just now. He was asking why he should choose me to list his house. I told him that communication was the third pillar of my business. (Blogging/social media is my first pillar. Networking/open houses are my second). Most people think they communicate enough but few actually do. A realtor should strive to over-communicate. That way, he knows he is communicating enough. After three weeks, in terms of activity, a listing smooths out. Realtors should remember how long a single week feels for home sellers when nothing seems to be happening.

What to expect in terms of activity should be discussed with the client upfront and during the process.



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  1. says: Carter T

    Some great information and quite true. Clients need to understand that this is why it is so important to price the home correctly from the get-go. Like any other product for sale, the listing can become stale after a period of time and no longer receives the interest that it does as something fresh.

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