A Detailed Timeline For Selling Your Home
What You Will Read In This Article
The time has come. You’ve been house hunting for months, your extra items are in storage, and you’re ready to take the next step.
But what is the next step? And what can you do to prepare for selling your home?
No matter if this is your first rodeo, or you’ve sold a home in the past, this guide will help bring you up to speed on the entire process. Best of all, the process and timeline to sell a home is similar across the USA (with a few minor differences). So no matter where you live or where you plan on moving to, we’ve got you covered.
Grab a drink, kick back, and take some notes as we walk you through the home selling process timeline start to finish.
How Far in Advance Should I Put My House On The Market?
Despite the Rolling Stones hit single, “Time is on My Side”, that isn’t always the case. Selling a home often means buying and/or renting another. This makes timing critical.
Knowing how long it will take, what happens at each stage and when you might be able to get cash in hand for your big move is important.
Although the average time to sell a home will depend on a broad range of factors, from the time of the year, to local market conditions and property type, the average days from market listing to closing across the USA comes in at between 65-93 days.
Given that the time to “close” generally ranges between 30-45 days, this means most homes on the market received an accepted offer between the 1-2 month mark.
Home Selling Process Quick Overview:
- Decide to sell your home
- Determine the best route to sell your home (i.e. real estate agent, flat rate broker, to investors or wholesalers for cash, “for sale by owner”, etc.
- Determine your home’s worth and price it to sell
- Make any necessary repairs or updates
- Prep your home for sale (cleaning, staging, removing clutter, etc.)
- List home on the market/market the home to potential buyers
- Open houses and showings
- Seller disclosures
- Receive, negotiate and accept a purchase offer
- Deal with inspections and title company
- Negotiate details of the deal (such as contingencies)
- Sign title and escrow documents and surrender the property to new owners
What To Do Right Now
Pick A Moving Date
Unless your new boss in another state is on your back like a monkey that won’t go away, you likely have some leeway to plan things out on your own time.
That being said, identifying the date of your “move out” is an ideal next step. But when is the best time to sell your home you ask?
The answer, like many things in life, is that it depends. Most real estate markets have a fairly well-defined buying and selling cycle, meaning that with a little research, you can time the sale of your house to match your goals.
For example, perhaps selling fast (regardless of peak price) is important to you. To others, selling at top price (even if it takes longer) is a bigger priority.
TIP: Check out the guides on our site to find out the best times to sell your home based on your state and goals.
2 Months Before Listing
Start Doing Your Homework
With months before you list your home, its time to get out the notepad and crunch some numbers. Put on your investigative hat, because we’re about to “Dick Tracy” this one.
At this stage, local market research is key to helping you determine a fair market price on your home. You want a number that is reflective of its value and amenities, but also that is an attractive deal as compared to other similar options that buyers have in your area.
Decide On Home Selling Options
Next up: how you plan to sell your home. In the past, you could sell it yourself or simply hire a traditional real estate agent. Today, we have MANY more options to choose from, each of which has its own unique set of features and benefits to consider.
Real Estate Agent
Real Estate Agents are one of the most popular routes to sell a home. Although you’ll pay more in commissions, they often can negotiate a better deal, get your home sold faster, and do ALL of the heavy lifting and paperwork for you. At least the good agents will! It’s a hands-off, stress-free process, or at least they should make it as much so as possible.
For Sale By Owner (FSBO), as the name implies, means that you (the owner) sells the home on your own. Although you’ll save big on real estate agent commissions, you’ll also take on more risk (legal) and will be fully responsible for everything from staging and showing your home, to marketing the listing and negotiating a deal.
Flat Fee MLS
Flat fee MLS services allow homeowners who want to sell their house on their own access to one of the most powerful marketing tools available ONLY to real estate agents: the coveted MLS listing service.
By paying a Flat Fee MLS service, they will publish your listing for you, putting your property in front of thousands of agents, buyers and investors. Do keep in mind you’ll still be responsible for responding to inquiries, setting up showings and everything else that goes along with selling a home.Learn how to sell a house and save thousands with ISoldMyHouse.com.
6 Weeks Before Listing
Wow! Time flies! We’re already sitting six weeks out from the listing date deadline you set for yourself. Let’s keep this train moving…
Hire Agent (if working with one)
If you’ve opted to go the real estate agent route, there is no time like the present to begin interviewing and vetting potential candidates for the role.
Things to Consider when Hiring:
PRO TIP: We have a guide on what questions you MUST ask a real estate agent before making a hiring them. Check it out!
- Ask friends and family for referrals
- Make sure you feel comfortable with the agent (you’ll be working closely together)
- Are they licensed and in good standing?
- What type of experience do they have in your market?
- What type of marketing plan do they have in mind?
Get Your House Ready To Sell
Look, we get it. You’re busy. Things get left unkept. It happens. But now is the time to start making a list of what can be done to quickly give your home a little life. Simple, cost-effective fixes, paint jobs, refinishing cabinets or floors, updating appliances, and a good professional cleaning are just a few ideas to get you started.
1 Month Before Listing
ONE MONTH LEFT!?! Ok, don’t panic. We’re right on schedule.
Start the Moving Process
We know it might seem a little premature, but trust us, this is NOT part of the process you want to leave until the last minute. You’ll thank us later.
Evaluate your possessions and make a detailed inventory including dimensions, weight (when applicable), worth (for insurance purposes), and what needs special care or handling. For example, heirlooms or special photos may be better off handled by you personally.
Once you have an inventory mapped out, consider temporarily storing any non-essentials in a storage unit for later transport to your final destination. This is also a good time to start looking into moving companies and/or truck rentals. Book your truck/move out date with them ahead of time so your truck will be reserved.
While you’re at it, give your neighbors a heads up. It’s not only courteous to do so, but they may know someone wanting to move into the neighborhood.Learn how to sell a house and save thousands with ISoldMyHouse.com.
2 to 3 Weeks Before Listing
Run the Numbers & Determine List Price
First up, if you still have a mortgage (which most of us do), get out your loan payoff information. Figure out how much you owe, and what you need to make your move. For example, you may need to pay off the mortgage in full plus have $20k extra as a down payment on the next house.
However, remember that your list price needs to be competitive and appropriate for your home’s value and your local market conditions.
PRO TIP: If you have a real estate agent, they will prepare a Comparative Market Analysis report (or “the Comp” report for you.
Finish Deep Cleaning and Decluttering
As the listing date approaches, don’t slack off on decluttering and cleaning. This will help prep the home and rooms for optimal staging when the time comes. Remove unnecessary furniture, collectibles, and other personal items. You want the home to look like a “model” home or blank canvas ready for the new owners to make their own.
1 Week Before Listing
Your home is prepped, decluttered, cleaned and ready for the next step, so get your real estate camera ready!
Professional Staging, Photos, Video & Drones
Now is the time to show off all of your hard work. If you have an agent they will help guide you with staging your home for photos, videography and walkthroughs.
Here are Some Pro Tips on Staging:
- De-personalize the space
- Get rid of any clutter
- Spend more attention on rooms with the most potential or value
- Deep cleaning matters
- Keep things neutral
- Make the first impression count (i.e. front entrance)
- Open up areas by arranging furniture
- Let more light in (i.e. open blinds, turn on lights, etc.)
- Give walls a fresh coat of paint
- Refinish or stain flooring and cabinets
- Update cabinet hardware
- Consider updating appliances
- Don’t skimp on curb appeal (landscaping, flowers, shutters, etc.)
- Consider resurfacing and/or power washing patios
- Stage rooms to highlight their purpose and features
- Highlight storage spaces
Video walkthroughs represent the next generation of selling tools, allowing prospective buyers to get a true feel for your home before visiting in person. It also increases the chances of a buyer taking the plunge sight unseen, further expanding the marketability of your property.
Release the Drones
Real estate drone footage of your home can set your property apart from the competition while providing a unique and engaging view of your home that attracts more buyers.Learn how to sell a house and save thousands with ISoldMyHouse.com.
Listing For Sale
Hitting the MLS and Real Estate Websites
If you have an agent, they will have access to the MLS and other key websites to list and promote your property. However, if you’re going the DIY route you’ll need to pay for a FSBO MLS listing service in order to do the same.
Other Unique Places to List Your Home:
- Classifieds ads online and in your local papers
- Online real estate listing sites
- Social media (don’t forget to ask your friends to share the posts)
- Social media marketplaces (such as FB marketplace)
- Local online communities and groups
Be Show Ready At All Times
Remember, you work on the prospective buyers’ clock not your own. Your home needs to be ready at all times for a showing, so keep it in pristine (almost unlived in) condition.
Take Corrective Actions Immediately
Feedback from your agent and prospective buyers is highly valuable, providing you with unique insights into what the market is looking for. Take this feedback with stride and take immediate action to address any particular concerns you uncover.
Work With Buyers To Accept An Offer
If you’ve properly priced your home to sell and have put in place a solid marketing strategy, you’ll no doubt begin fielding offers from buyers. As eager as you may be to close the deal and move on to the next stage of your life, don’t be afraid to counter-offer and do a little negotiating. If you’ve hired an agent they will handle this for you. If you’re on your own, its time to dust off the negotiation skills and do a little wheeling and dealing.
Common Areas of Contention Include:
- Final price
- Results of the home inspection and/or appraisal
- Closing costs
- What is and isn’t included (i.e. appliances, furniture, etc.)
Escrow, Closing & Moving Out
We’re nearing the end of this little adventure. Its time to hire a title company, collect earnest money from the buyer, and finalize the purchase agreement.
Escrow is used to ensure the proper remittance of funds as outlined in the agreement, as well as paying off any existing mortgage.
At closing a final walkthrough is generally carried out, after which final paperwork signed and later documented at the courthouse, and the keys relinquished to the new owner.
And that concludes the home selling process timeline. With a little preparation and planning, you can streamline this process, reduce stress and make your move with ease.
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.