The Most Overlooked Question in Real Estate

Real estate agents are used to getting questions about their local market. Most are routine. What’s the market like? What are prices doing? Should I buy now? Sell now? But for years I have been amazed that not much attention is paid to how long a home for sale stays on the market.

Real estate agents are used to getting questions about their local market.  Most are routine.  What’s the market like?  What are prices doing?  Should I buy now?  Sell now?

But for years I have been amazed that not much attention is paid to how long a home for sale stays on the market.  This stat spotlights the push/pull of supply and demand, along with the pricing and marketability of the home.  It’s a great way to gauge the vibrancy of a local market.

The National Association of Realtors just reported that that the median time to sell homes in the U.S. had dropped nearly 30% from a year ago from 98 to 69 days…

So it was interesting to look at this Sunday’s New York Times to see how quickly a sampling of homes was selling in the NYC metropolitan area.

I love this section.  Not only do you get a weekly roundup of 28 homes that sold throughout the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but you get a look at how long it took it took to sell a home and how much it was originally listed for.

The average amount of time it took to sell this week’s 28 listings of all sizes, shapes and prices was 11.2 weeks – 77 days.  But that includes the four in Westchester/Putnam counties (none handled by Coldwell Banker) that totaled 95 weeks or 166 days for each.

One home that caught my eye was 2 Leahs Court in Smithtown, NY.  It sold for $830,000 and Ronni Tranes of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage worked with the buyer.  This 14-year-old, 5 bedroom/3 ½ bath home was on the market a couple of years ago before the owner decided not to sell.  This time it lasted just 5 weeks on the market and had multiple bids. I asked Ronni to elaborate on why this home sold in half the time of the national average.

“It’s all about pricing and the upkeep of the home,” she said.  “It was priced competitively this time at $799,000 and there were multiple bids.  While I didn’t list the home, I know the owner had a much clearer understanding of today’s prices after relisting. Smithtown is an area where the majority of homes were built in the 1960’s and ‘70’s so a newer construction like this with modern amenities like higher ceilings is in demand.  The older homes that have been kept up are also selling quickly too.  But they have to be priced right.

“The time on market stat is important since it does show what types of homes, both in price and style, are in demand.  In our case, it is a great confidence boost to both buyers and sellers.  Buyers get a sense that homes are selling, things are improving and they shouldn’t wait to time the market.  And sellers obviously gain a greater understanding that buyers are out there and they can put their homes on the market and find success.”

So when you look at recent home sales in your local market,  I hope you join me in taking a long look at time on market. It can tell you a lot.


Question mark image courtesy of Flickr user Colin_K

David Siroty has been with Coldwell Banker Real Estate since 2004 and is responsible for all U.S. and Canadian external and internal communications, along with social media and cause marketing activities. In his role as VP of North American Communications, he is responsible for promoting the Coldwell Banker brand to media, staff and affiliated companies.

He was honored by PR News in their PR People Awards as the 2010 Lemonade Maker for his work in promoting the Coldwell Banker brand despite the challenging real estate market. He has worked in public relations for nearly 30 years in the sports, TV, agency and higher education industries. He also taught public relations for several years and is the author of a 2002 baseball book The Hit Men and the Kid Who Batted Ninth.


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