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The “days on market” metric can help you make better decisions on either side of a real estate transaction. Despite rising rates and inflation fears, home sales are still happening at a fairly brisk pace: In February 2023, the average length of time a property stayed on the market was 34 days, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Here’s what you need to know about the number of days a home takes to sell, whether you’re a homebuyer or seller.
What does “days on market” mean?
Days on market literally refers to the number of days a home has been on the market, i.e., officially for sale. However, it technically measures only how long the home has been listed for sale by a particular agent, explains Jennifer Green, a Realtor with the Aston Rose luxury brokerage in Miami.
The total time a home has been for sale, regardless of agent, is known as “cumulative days on market.” On many websites, buyers can view this cumulative listing history of the property if the seller previously used a different agent or listed the property as for sale by owner, Green points out.
There are many things that impact how many days a home stays on the market. For example, a home that is priced too high will likely stay on the market longer, because fewer buyers will be interested. The same is true for homes in poor states of repair or in undesirable locations. Well priced homes in great locations and good condition, however, typically don’t stay on the market very long.
Days on market is one of the best indicators of whether you’re in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. “If most properties in an area are on the market for a short period, that means you’re in a seller’s market. Demand is high, inventory is low and buyers must move quickly to make their decision,” Green says.
On the other hand, if the time on market is longer, that can indicate a buyer’s market. When houses take longer to sell, it can be a reflection of lower demand. Buyers in these conditions can be a bit choosier — and sellers might need to be more accommodating, including recognizing that their home might not be worth what they think it is.
Days on market for sellers
If you’re on the listing side of things, days on market can help inform your selling strategy. “Generally speaking, if your home has been on the market for too long compared to other listings in your area, you may need to make a price reduction or offer concessions,” Green says.
Should you relist?
If your home hasn’t sold as fast as you would like, you may be considering relisting it, which would reset that count. However, Green says, this generally isn’t the route to take unless you’re making big changes to make the home more appealing to buyers.
“In some instances, it makes sense to relist with a new agent or new brokerage that’s well-versed in the area you’re in,” Green says. “But in others, it doesn’t. The home may be overpriced. It may need to be staged. It may need to be marketed differently. There are so many variables to consider. Before you relist the property with another Realtor, try speaking to the brokerage to see how you can make the home more marketable.”
It’s also good to have an idea of what the typical number of days on market is for your area. This is something your agent will know as well, and it’s important because the number of days can vary widely from one market to another. For example, according to March Redfin data, the average number of days on market for Austin is 59; in Atlanta, it’s 34; and in San Diego, it’s just 20.
Days on market for buyers
For buyers, days on market can be useful for a few reasons. If a home is brand-new to the market, you could be one of the first people to see it and be able to get an offer in early. Conversely, if a home has been sitting on the market for a long time, that can indicate that other buyers have seen it and not been interested.
There are plenty of reasons that a home might not sell right away, though, and buying a home that’s been on the market for a long time or relisted isn’t necessarily a bad thing. These properties can present an opportunity for the buyer. For example, the seller might be more willing to cut you a deal and sell below asking. This is especially true if they’ve already moved and the home is vacant — at that point, they are likely paying two mortgages and could be particularly motivated.
“You may have room to negotiate if the home’s been sitting,” Green says. “But it could also simply mean you’re dealing with an unmotivated seller.” Or one who is stubbornly unwilling to lower their price.
If a home has been relisted, see if you can find out why the sellers relisted. (Your agent can reach out to their agent in this case.) If they removed the home from the market to fix problems or make upgrades to make the home more appealing, that might be a good thing for you.
Whether you’re buying a house or selling, the average days on market in your area should play a large role in your decisions. For sellers, if your home is languishing on the market, it might be time to consider dropping the price. For buyers, if a home you’re interested in has been listed for a long time, take note — the price may soon be lowered.
Either way, be sure to enlist the help of a local real estate agent who knows your market well. An experienced pro will be able to guide you through the process and provide expert advice, about days on market and any other aspects of real estate.
Every individual market has a different average number of days on market, so “too long” is relative. For example, according to March Redfin data, homes in Austin typically spend 59 days on the market, while in San Diego, that number is just 20. The national average number of days on market, according to the National Association of Realtors, is 34.
Days on market is typically defined as the number of days a home takes to sell — meaning the count starts on the day it’s listed and ends on the day a purchase contract is signed. The signed contract effectively removes the home from the market.
According to February 2023 data from the National Association of Realtors, the national average number of days on market is 34. However, that number can vary widely depending on the individual market.