The Real Estate Encyclopedia
What Is A Typical Timeline To Sell A Home?
Category - Home Selling Questions - Staging & Marketing FAQ's

It is impossible to predict how long a home will be on the market and the sales time will obviously vary from market to market and be different depending on seasonality and economic cycle. Below are general guidelines on what to expect and how to plan your move.  The best thing you can do is to be prepared for any scenario.


4 months out

If you decide you want to have a broker list your home, begin interviewing real estate agents, check their credentials and make sure you enjoy working with the agent.  Allow the agent to guide you in major decisions such as the asking price by running a comparable market analysis.  Ask your agent to check how long properties are staying on the market and what the ones selling quickly are offering. Have title, deed and survey in hand when you are ready to list the property.


Determine what improvements are needed  - cleaning, painting, landscaping or repairing. Identify and hire contractors to clean carpets, refinish wood floors or to do any major painting, tile or grout work. Your real estate agent can help you decide what needs to be done.


2 months out

Make sure heating, air conditioning and any appliances you are leaving behind are in good working condition. Clean the garage. Spruce up your landscaping. Conduct an Inspection if you feel there may be substantial repairs needed. If you feel it is necessary to establish the asking price, get an appraisal.


6 weeks out

Develop a contingency plan to cover eventualities such as if your house sells faster than you expected; do you rent for a while and where?


If you are relocating, get all the details about any specific requirements. Know exactly how much the company will pay for moving expenses. Will they pay for one or two house-hunting trips? Temporary housing while you find a new home? Does your company offer assistance in the purchase of a new home?


Get referrals on movers from friends or colleagues.  Call three movers and get estimates. Be sure you are dealing with a reputable service provider. 


Make a list of everyone who needs to be notified of the move - friends, relatives, creditors, schools, doctors and dentists.



5 weeks out

Contact your insurance company to make sure your belongings are covered during the move. If not, find out what the mover covers. Their basic insurance probably insures items by the pound, which is not enough. See what other insurance they offer. Have an appraisal of expensive items you want shipped by the mover.


If you have refinanced recently, make sure everything has been recorded with regard to that mortgage.


If you are selling one property and purchasing another and you need money from the sale for the purchase, talk to your mortgage company about the time frame. They have programs where you can borrow against the sale but you have to take out the new mortgage with them.


If you are flying to your new location, book your flight and arrange for the mover or someone else to ship your car. Arrange for a rental car if necessary.


Vacant house - if you have to move before you have sold your house, check your insurance company for any insurance requirements. Insurance companies do not like to insure vacant houses.


4 weeks out

Start packing anything you do not want the movers packing. Give away plants - most movers will not take them. Movers also will not take flammables, paint, ammunition, chemicals and similar items.


Be prepared for closing. Talk with your attorney or representative. Make sure you understand any fees, commissions, taxes or points you may have to pay.


2 weeks out

Coordinate with your buyer regarding the transfer of utilities. Typically, the seller will cancel the utilities one day after the move. 


Make sure you have arrangements for a place to stay after the closing, unless you have arranged to rent the home back from the buyer. 


1 week out

Close safe-deposit box. Important papers, jewelry or other valuables must be moved by you personally.  If you are moving to another state and your banking institution is local, consider closing or transferring your savings account. Keep your checking account active until you open a new account in your new town.


Get a cashier's check for the movers.

If you have payments to make at the closing, get a cashiers check


Moving day

Review the bill of lading very carefully.

Make sure your helpers or family members know their responsibilities.

Plan for meals.

Arrange for someone to wait for the movers at your new home.

Make sure you collect all the keys and garage door openers to transfer to the buyer at the closing.

If the house is not sold yet, make sure a relative and the real estate agent have keys.


Closing day

Plan for traffic.  Get directions to the closing location. Bring keys and garage door openers.

Home Selling Questions - Staging & Marketing FAQ's
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