Aerial view of suburban countryside hill country near Austin, Texas.

The number of days a home has been on the market can change the way a buyer makes an offer. For a neighborhood or market, the average days on market can reveal a lot about local demand for housing. (Getty Images)

When you’re trying to buy or sell a home, it’s important to take advantage of all the data that’s at your disposal. “Days on market” is an especially critical number to take into account. But what does this number actually mean, and why does it matter for your real estate transaction?

[Read: Home Still On the Market? How to Refresh Your Home and Find a Buyer]

What Does Days on Market Measure?

When we talk about days on market, we’re talking about the amount of time the home is posted on the multiple listing service, or MLS, which allows real estate agents to search for local properties for sale. The timer starts whenever a house is officially listed on the market, and it ends when the seller has a signed and accepted contract with the buyer.

So, when you’re browsing real estate sites and you come across a home that has their days on market listed as one or two, that means the place was just listed. Chances are, it hasn’t had very many, if any, showings yet.

By contrast, if the home has 100 days on market, that means the seller has been trying to find a buyer for a long time – and things aren’t going well.

So what days on market tells you is more than just how long the place has been for sale. It also provides insight into how the house has been perceived by buyers in general.

Interpreting Days on Market

To that end, it’s important to understand some of the ways in which days on market can impact the sale of your home.

We’ll offer a couple of illustrations. Imagine that a buyer makes an offer on your home after being listed on the market for 48 hours. As a seller, you may not feel very desperate to cut a deal – after all, you just listed the place – and as such, you may be pretty rigid about the sale price. The buyer, meanwhile, will know that the house is new to the market, and will expect you to be pretty hard-lined about what you will and won’t accept. The offer you get will probably be fairly close to the list price.

[Read: How to Prepare for Potential Disasters While Your House Is on the Market]

In a second illustration, imagine that your home has been on the market for 45 days. Buyers will assume that you’ve had a lot of showings but not a lot of offers – and they may even assume you’re getting antsy to sell. Maybe even antsy enough to accept their offer, even if it’s fairly lower than anticipated. And they may be right. Questioning whether another offer will come your way, you may take the deal.

Both illustrate a simple point: It’s important to sell your home quickly. The longer it’s listed on the market, the harder it’s going to be for you to negotiate a deal aligned with your asking price.

When it comes to tips for selling your home, a lot of it boils down to this: Make a strong first impression so you can get some good offers right out of the gate.

But how can you do this? For those wondering how to sell your house fast, what steps should you take?

Tips for Selling Your House as Quickly as Possible

Minimizing your days on market boils down to a few things.

First, get the pricing right. This is critical. If you overprice your home, it may languish on the market for days, weeks or even months. The best real estate agents will help you figure out the sweet spot that maximizes your return while still attracting buyers.

In fact, pricing your home too low may actually work in your favor by inciting a bidding war, depending on the current available inventory in your area.

Second, make sure your home looks move-in ready right out of the gate by staging it with the right furniture and finishing touches. You only have one chance to make a first impression.

Next, be mindful of the time of year. Putting your home on the market in spring or summer is almost always preferable to selling in the off-season. If you can wait until peak time, you’re more likely to have buyer interest and sell more quickly than in a cold market.

[Read: What's the Difference Between Your Home's Market and Assessed Value?]

Finally, posting on social media can speed up your home sale by spreading the word to your personal network and beyond. Sometimes, a buyer could be closer than you think in the form of a friend, neighbor or relative, or someone in their social spheres. The more eyes on your listing, the better.


8 Home-Selling Buzzwords That Annoy Consumers

Draw buyers to your home, not away from your online listing.

Young Couple Meeting With Financial Advisor presenting new bank offers and investments on digital tablet.

(iStockPhoto)

Eighty-eight percent of homebuyers use the internet as part of their home search, according to a 2015 National Association of Realtors report. That’s clearly a portion of buyers you can’t afford to miss when selling your home. But what makes an enticing home description? Specifics and honesty are key, but with so many home listings out there, it’s also important to avoid phrases and terms that have become cliche or have taken on a new meaning. Read on for real estate buzzwords to leave out of your listing.

'Quaint' or 'cozy'

'Quaint' or 'cozy'

Small brown cottage by a green summer meadow.

(Getty Images)

Any description of a house pushing the “quaint” and “cozy” factor is likely trying to mask the fact that the house is uncomfortably small. And while the size of a home matters to most buyers, let them determine if it's the right size based on the square footage listed. “Consumers look through a lot of listings. They don’t have the patience to decode all the cliches and euphemisms,” says Steve Udelson, president of Owners.com, a website for self-directed homebuyers and sellers.

'Luxury'

'Luxury'

Large brick house with blue shutters.

(Getty Images)

High-end homes attract a whole new set of potential buyers, but “luxury” has been so overused it’s hard to tell the difference anymore. “You’ll find various listings that are by no means ‘luxury’ or ‘luxurious,’” says Michelle Farber Ross, a broker and managing partner at MMD Realty, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Agents use those buzzwords, and you look and think, ‘Oh gosh, this would never be a luxury home.’” She notes the true luxury market begins at $1 million (and starts even higher in pricey cities such as New York and San Francisco).

'Up-and-coming'

'Up-and-coming'

Residential street in New York suburb, New York, United States of America.

(Getty Images)

The description of being in an “up-and-coming” neighborhood has taken on a whole new meaning – and often not a positive one. This phrase is a veiled attempt at pointing out a high-crime neighborhood, which gets into dangerous territory, as the Fair Housing Act prohibits providing subjective information that may steer homebuyers toward or away from a neighborhood based primarily on race or any other form of discrimination. “You can’t red-flag a neighborhood,” says Tim Brinkman, owner and broker of The American Real Estate Co. in Keyser, West Virginia. He tells his agents that they should only share information about the neighborhood that's location-based, such as the home's proximity to a grocery store or park.

'Priced to sell'

'Priced to sell'

A luxury home for sale.

(iStockPhoto)

This all-too-common phrase has zero impact on a home description. Plus, Udelson explains, “priced to sell” raises awkward questions for online house hunters: “What does that mean? That means all other listings are not priced to sell?” A home description should remain focused on the home's qualities and let the listed price speak for itself. This phrase and others – including “motivated seller” – diminish the property's selling points and may leave you with lowball offers from buyers looking to score a deal.

'Updated'

'Updated'

Modern white and clean kitchen interior with stools at counter

(Getty Images)

Every homebuyer may want an updated kitchen and master bath these days, but the word is so vague that it can lead to major letdowns when it comes time to tour the house. “Take that down a notch and be more specific,” Udelson says. New quartz countertops and recently installed stainless steel appliances should be described as such to differentiate from a kitchen that only got a fresh coat of paint.

'Needs TLC' or 'Handyman Special'

'Needs TLC' or 'Handyman Special'

Exterior of an old house with paint chipping.

(Getty Images)

Overly vague terms get obnoxious when it comes to fixer-upper properties. Phrases like “needs TLC” and “great potential” fail to note how much work the home needs, often leading buyers to assume the worst so they don't even bother to see the home in person. Brinkman’s least favorite home description is “handyman special.” “Just how handy do they have to be?” he asks, noting this could be minor maintenance or a complete remodel.

'Walking distance'

'Walking distance'

walking men in the city

(Getty Images)

Close proximity to stores, restaurants and public transportation can be a huge selling point for many homes, but clarity is essential because “walking distance” varies significantly by person. While anything less than a mile might be considered walkable by one buyer, any more than a block may be too much for another. “That’s not bad, but you can be more direct,” Udelson says. Note the physical distance to the nearby shopping center or explain that there are no major roads to cross, which makes walking much easier for those who are inclined to pay a higher price for convenience.

'This home has it all.'

'This home has it all.'

Germany, Hesse, Frankfurt, View of villa with garden

(Getty Images)

Lacking an actual description of the property, this phrase does little to draw homebuyers to a home showing. Udelson notes this and other expressions like “the possibilities are endless,” for example, are “vague, overused abstractions” that do little to sell to a new owner. You don’t want to leave room for a potential buyer to doubt a description. Instead, ensure the home's features speak for themselves. A home with a pool, master suite and chef’s kitchen might be everything a buyer wants, but if it’s simply described as having “it all,” the buyer may never check it out.

Remember: No need to repeat the basics.

Remember: No need to repeat the basics.

Relaxed young couple using a laptop at home

(iStockPhoto)

When a property goes into a multiple listing service, the information that breaks down key details of the home, such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and age of the house, is presented in list form. Farber Ross warns against repeating those details again in the description you write: “They can see all those statistics on their own – you don’t need to reiterate any of that.” Instead, use the description as an opportunity to describe the type of hardwood floors and countertops that may pique a buyer’s interest.

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Tags: real estate, housing, housing market, existing home sales, pending home sales, home prices


Deanna Haas is the director of customer experience at SOLD.com, a first-of-its-kind educational resource and comparison engine for consumers researching and evaluating the many ways to buy or sell a home. SOLD.com’s platform brings traditional agents and disruptive tech models all under one roof.

Haas’ team advises homebuyers and sellers on how to make the most of their experience by connecting them with the optimal agent partner for their needs. With over 10 years of experience in the real estate industry, including previous roles at Zillow and Auction.com, Haas is an expert on the ins and outs of home sales.

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