Buying & Selling

Navigating the Home Selling Timeline: What You Can Expect

Selling a home can be an exciting and sometimes daunting experience. Whether you’re looking to downsize, upgrade or relocate, having a clear understanding of the home selling timeline can help you navigate the process with confidence.

While each transaction is unique (which is a gentle way of saying that you need to consider the outline below as a guideline, not a guarantee), it may help ease your concerns if you have a comprehensive overview of the steps involved in selling a home. That can give you a rough idea of what to expect along the way, which can ultimately make it easier to plan your future.

Prep Your Home (2-4 Weeks)

The first step in selling your home is to prep it for listing. This stage sets the foundation for a successful sale – and doing it right can help you get the best price: 

Begin by decluttering and depersonalizing your space to create a neutral environment that appeals to a wide range of potential buyers. Remove personal items, excess furniture and any unnecessary clutter so that buyers easily imagine living in your home. 

Next, thoroughly clean your home, paying attention to every nook and cranny. A clean and well-maintained home gives a positive impression to buyers. Consider hiring professional cleaners, if it’s easier. 

If needed, make necessary repairs and updates to enhance your home’s appeal. This may include fixing leaky faucets, repainting walls or updating outdated fixtures. 

Generally, most people can pull all this off in less than a month, but you may want to start earlier if you have a complicated schedule and little time to devote to the process or your home needs more extensive repairs.

Find a Realtor and Set Your Price (1-2 weeks) 

Your listing agent is the absolute best resource you have and the one person who is laser-focused on your best interests during the sale, so take your time to pick an agent that you trust. 

Look for someone who has the right training to handle your kind of property, think about the marketing plan they have in mind, consider their experience level and – perhaps most of all – think about how well you connect with them. Since you’ll be working closely with them until your house is sold, you want to make sure that your personalities mesh. 

If you’ve chosen an agent who understands the local market, they’ll bring all their expertise into the picture when they help you decide how much to ask for the property. Generally, you can expect them to use Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) (or “run comps”) to assess the value of your property based on recent sales of similar homes in your area. The pricing process typically takes a few days as it involves thorough research and analysis. 

Remember: There’s an art to pricing a home so that it’s competitive. It’s important to strike a balance between attracting buyers and maximizing your return on your investment, so listen to your agent’s wisdom.

Listing Your Home (1-14 Days):

Once you’ve prepared your home and established a price, it’s time to get it listed on the market – but that’s a bit more complicated than you probably realize. Your agent will assist with all the essentials, like: 

Staging, which is fine-tuning your home’s decor so that it showcases the property’s best features. 

Photos: Most would-be buyers start shopping for homes online, so high-quality photos are key to a sale.

Description: Clever, engaging wording that has all the right buzzwords that buyers are using can help boost interest in your property. 

Your agent will also promote your listing through various channels, including online listing platforms, social media and professional networking – and that will get the process into high gear!

Marketing and Showings (Varies):

This is where the timeline can get pretty fuzzy. While all houses eventually sell, some sell a lot faster than others. As of March 2023, the average home could expect to be listed for 54 days before being sold – but there are a lot of variables involved that can change that figure in either direction. You simply have to be patient. 

Once your home is listed, the marketing and showing phase begins. Your real estate agent will coordinate with potential buyers and schedule showings of your home. During this phase, your agent will also provide feedback from potential buyers, helping you understand their impressions and identify any necessary adjustments to increase your home’s likelihood of a sale.

Offers and Negotiations (Varies)

Once potential buyers start expressing interest, you’ll begin to receive offers. Your real estate agent will help you evaluate each one, taking into account factors such as the offering price, contingencies, the buyer’s financing terms and anything else that is relevant to the sale of your property. 

Your real estate agent will also work with you to negotiate the best possible terms on your behalf. They will guide you through the process of accepting or countering offers, ensuring that your interests are represented. The negotiation phase can range from a few days to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the negotiations.

Home Inspection and Appraisal (1-3 Weeks)

Once an offer is accepted, the buyer will typically schedule a home inspection to identify any potential issues with the property. A professional inspector will thoroughly examine the property, including its structural components, electrical systems, plumbing and other features so they can provide a detailed report for the buyer. 

Additionally, the buyer’s lender will typically require an appraisal to ensure that the property’s value is worth the loan amount. The appraiser will consider the property’s condition, size, location and comparable area sales to determine its fair market value. 

Generally speaking, you’re at the mercy of the schedule these professionals need to follow, so you could be in for a longer wait during the spring and summer when sales are moving quickly.

Closing and Finalizing the Sale (2 Weeks-2 Months)

As the transaction nears its conclusion, both parties will work together to satisfy any outstanding contingencies and complete the necessary paperwork. This includes finalizing the buyer’s financing, obtaining insurance and addressing any legal requirements. 

This process can go quickly if your buyer is making a cash purchase, but most of them are not. A financed sale generally has to wait until the buyer’s loan provider completes all its steps before you can set a closing day. 

When your closing day (finally!) comes, you and the buyer will meet at a title company or attorney’s office to sign all the necessary documents, which include the deed, bill of sale and various other paperwork related to the transfer of ownership. You will also receive payment for your property. The funds will be distributed to first pay off any existing mortgage(s) or liens on the property, and you will then receive the remaining proceeds from the sale. 

Once all this is done, all you have left to do is celebrate (and move, of course)!