How Long Will It Take My House To Sell?

There seems to be something in the water. The question keeps coming up over and over.

How long will it take my house to sell?

Most of the time this question comes out of people’s mouths before I’ve seen the property or even done some cursory research on how the sales in the neighborhood are doing. It seems that a lot of people are listening to the national news media which is reporting a slight uptick. Or, they talk to the neighbors who want the market to be hot.

The thing about how long it will take a house to sell −known as Days on Market in real-estate-speak − is that it is almost always a factor of the home’s list price and the home’s physical condition. Everything will sell at the right price. It doesn’t matter how bad the place looks.

Alternately, if you can get your house to look really, really nice you may be able to sell it faster than the house down the street assuming you price it to sell.

Of course, I can look at trends (see the charts below) and take a wild guess but a lot of people think Realtors must have a magic crystal ball that will let us know exactly how long it will take to get a good offer on their home.


Lately, my crystal ball hasn’t been working too well.

Part of that is price.  It’s understandable that home sellers want the absolute most money they can get from the sale of their house. Unfortunately, wanting and getting are two different things. No matter how many times you’ve heard “You need to start high so you can negotiate (or drop) your price to something you wanted anyway.”  This would be like going into the grocery store and seeing a gallon of milk at $5/gallon and taking it to the check out counter with $2.50.

First, at $5/gallon you would probably pass on the milk. Heck, you don’t drink that much of it anyway and there’s this great nutritious juice that’s half the price.

Second, the checkout person won’t negotiate the price. It is what it is and even if they could they aren’t going to come down 50% just because you asked.

it’s true that negotiating the price of a house is different than picking up a gallon of milk. The point I’m making is that if you want your home to sell quickly, you need to price it so people will walk in the door. Otherwise, they’ll pass it by faster than a $5/gallon jug of milk.


The other part of a short Days on Market number is how nice your home looks. If it’s cluttered up or needs paint and carpet, it will slow things down. Your neighbor down the street or around the corner has fixed their place up. It looks nice. It’s also the same price. Which house do you think John and Jane Homebuyer are going to jump on?

The thing about predicting Days on Market is that I am almost always wrong. Sometimes, I’m thinking to myself, “Nice location, nice house, good price. I think it’ll be under a month.” Only to find out it takes much longer.


The other part of how long it will take to sell your house is how many other houses similar to yours in your immediate vicinity are on the market. If you have 10 homes that buyers can choose from and they’re all about the same price, your house might not make the cut. That’s why you have to have a great looking house at a great looking price.

The bottom line is that it’s almost impossible to predict how long it will take your house to sell.  It’s especially hard to predict without ever seeing the home.

Some Cool ‘Days on Market’ Charts

College Park, MD

Beltsville, MD

Greenbelt, MD

Bowie, MD (20715)

Bethesda, MD (20817)

About Ken Montville

Ken Montville is a Realtor® and Associate Broker with RE/MAX United Real Estate in the beautiful Maryland Suburbs of Washington, DC. He has been selling nice homes since 1999. Way back in the 20th Century.

When Ken Is not doing the real estate thing he can be found all over social media in places too numerous to mention and he listens to jazz, reads a little (mostly non-fiction), hangs out with the Rotary Club of College Park, MD and can be found blogging at