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Ask McEnearney: How long does it take to get a home on the market for sale?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How long does it take to get a home on the market for sale?

Answer: There are many steps to selling a home. However, if you are somewhat prepared, an experienced Realtor can launch your listing as active in a matter of days. How prepared are you? I would suggest that you leave it to your expert Realtor to assess and advise on whether your home is truly show-ready. In addition to the condition of your home, there are also some important pre-marketing activities that should be done for the best and most lucrative outcome for you, as a seller, and it’s best not to speed through the process too quickly. In our business, we provide each seller with a customized timeline.

If you are interested in a personalized and realistic timeline for your own home, don’t hesitate to reach out for a no-obligation consultation and you are also invited to our first “Downsizing & Planning for the Future” event on January 20th at James Duncan Library. I’ll share more details below.

In this article, I’ll break down the key steps in getting ready for a sale, with an idea of how long each step may take.

  1. Preparation (2-8 Weeks):

Before listing your home, it’s super important to make sure that it’s ready for buyer viewings. An outside opinion is crucial, so that you don’t waste time and money painting less than ideal colors or doing things that aren’t necessary, Most importantly, you need to declutter, make necessary repairs, and enhance curb appeal. This stage depends on your current condition, and whether you do it yourself or use one of our trusted and often speedy contractors to accomplish the task list quickly. Homes in better shape may require even less than 2 weeks for preparation.

  1. Setting the Right Price (1-2 Weeks):

Getting the list price is a very important step, and involves your Realtor assessing the market, comparing recent sales within a close distance of your home, and considering your homes features and the ages of the systems, such as the roof, HVAC, windows and more. This process requires thorough research and consultation with real estate professionals. It’s also important to reassess the price, just before going active, in case there have been any new sales.

  1. Listing Your Home (1-2 Week):

Once your home is prepared and you have decided on the list price, launching your home as active can happen very quickly. Your Realtor will need to schedule a photo shoot for high-quality pictures, produce top-notch marketing materials, and write a compelling and informative description of your home. Your Realtor’s marketing plan should include a social media campaign, a great online presence and lots of exposure for your listing.

  1. Showings and Open Houses (Varies, ideally 7-14 days):

This stage begins the minute your home becomes active and will last as long as it takes for your home to get an acceptable offer. If your home price is right and the photos show well, you will likely start getting requests for showings within a day or two. Usually, your Realtor will hold an open house the first weekend, and then again fairly regularly throughout the listing period until you are under contract. Hosting open houses and making it easy for buyers to schedule visits are essential for showcasing your property.

  1. Receiving and Negotiating Offers (Varies, ideally quickly!):

The time frame for this stage will vary depending on how many other homes are currently on the market, whether your home is priced to attract buyers (too high is a deterrent) and whether the offers received will work for you, as the seller. This is where you ideally have more than one offer and can weigh out the best options for you — price, how quickly they can close, whether they will allow you to stay for a period of time after closing (if needed), and what types of contingencies the buyer wants to include in the contract. It’s essential to work closely with your Realtor to structure the best deal for you.

  1. Under Contract period and closing (3-6 Weeks typically):

After accepting an offer, the home goes under contract. During this period, various tasks, including inspections, appraisals, and paperwork will take place. The timeline for these processes can be done quickly, or can take longer, depending on the contract agreement and the complexity of the sale. Unless you have an agreement to occupy the property for a period of time after settlement, you will have to be completely moved out, usually by the day before closing. The actual closing usually takes place at the settlement company, where the seller and the buyer sign all the documents (often separately) and the settlement company processes the final sale and records it with the local courthouse.

As you can see, selling a home is a multi-step process with varying timelines at each stage, and some of these steps can happen concurrently. It can be accomplished in just a few weeks or could take several months. It’s important to stay organized and to work with an experienced real estate professional for the best results and easiest process.

Ready to start your own timeline! Join us on January 20 at our Downsizing & Planning For The Future event for expert tips from Professional Organizer Terry Barlow, Estate Sale Guru Daniel Sanders, local Moving Expert Ben Frakes, Junk Removal Expert Collin Wheeler, and The Peele Group at McEnearney Real Estate — Kim and Hope Peele & Nancy Smith!

This will be an informative session on how to get started and accomplish your goals, with time for Q&A.

When: Jan. 20 from 12-1:30 p.m. with extra time for Q&A.
Where: James Duncan Library, 2701 Commonwealth Avenue. Space is limited. RSVP required — on the library website ( or email [email protected].

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Old Town and currently lives in Del Ray. As a partner with The Peele Group, Hope is dedicated to guiding her clients successfully through the many-faceted process of buying or selling a home. Contact Hope at 703-244-6115.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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