May 9, 2023
Congrats, you’ve decided to sell your home! And by now, you’ve likely painted your front door and decluttered all of the closets, and your real estate agent has taken some stunning photos of your home. Soon your agent will be listing your home—meaning it officially goes on the market.
So now what?
Taking the step to sell your home is meaningful and exciting. But it’s also unpredictable. Should you expect several offers on the first day? And if you go weeks without an offer, when do you need to drop the sale price?
Alas, there are no hard and fast answers to those questions. But we talked to real estate pros to get their expert opinion on what happens as your home spends days or weeks on the market.
So here’s a week-by-week timeline of what you can expect when selling your home.
What to expect: A flurry of initial buzz (hopefully)
What to do: Ensure your home is ready to impress would-be buyers
“During the first week of listing, your home will likely generate a lot of interest from potential buyers eager to get a first look,” says Neha Gharpande, a real estate professional for Elite Properties in New York. “Make sure to keep your home clean and presentable at all times, and be ready to accommodate potential buyers at a moment’s notice.”
Think of the first week your home is on the market like you would a first date.
“Making a solid first impression is essential,” says Ryan Fitzgerald, a real estate agent and owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, NC. “This means staging the property and setting a competitive price that reflects the local market.”
Also, try to keep your schedule open. A flurry of showings is likely as your fresh listing hits real estate sites like Realtor.com® and social media platforms.
First-week tip: Take any feedback from potential buyers and their agents to heart.
“Comments can help identify areas where your home may need improvement or for understanding what buyers are looking for in your price range,” adds Gharpande.
So if you get several negative comments about the neon yellow paint in your downstairs half-bath, now might be the right time to quickly repaint it (in a more neutral shade!) before other potential buyers come through.
What to expect: More showings—and maybe some anxiety as you wait for an offer
What to do: Keep your home clean and your schedule flexible
If your home hasn’t sold after the first week, it’s not time to panic.
“It’s common for homes to remain on the market for several weeks or even months, depending on the local market conditions,” says Gharpande.
During the second week your home’s for sale, you can expect to continue getting requests for showings. So while it’s difficult, keep your house tidy and uncluttered. And be ready to head out with your kids and pets at a moment’s notice. It will be easier for your agent to show the house when you’re agreeable to a last-minute viewing.
Second-week tip: Chat with your agent about ways the agent is trying to cast a wide net for potential buyers.
“One strategy I’ve used with success is hosting a themed open house, like a weekend brunch or a wine and cheese evening,” says Fitzgerald.
And to increase your home’s visibility, you can also share your listing on social media and ask friends and family to do the same.
What to expect: A potential offer (or start getting used to the idea of a price adjustment)
What to do: Prep for a home inspection
By the third week, a buyer has likely fallen in love with your house if your home is well-priced and in good condition. If so, you can expect an offer and earnest money deposit to come your way.
Earnest money is upfront cash, usually between 1% to 2% of the purchase price, but can run much higher.
“It’s is the buyer’s way of saying, ‘Hey, we’re serious about buying your place,’” explains Fitzgerald.
A home inspection is the next step after an offer. Before it happens, ensure every area of your property is accessible. And get ready for some negotiating.
If any potential problems are found, “there might be a bit of back and forth about fixing stuff or maybe even changing the price,” says Fitzgerald.
Third-week tip: Take all offers with a grain of salt. Sometimes, buyers back out and take their earnest money with them. So talk to your agent about how to reduce the chances that this will happen.
For instance, you can do a title search ahead of time to ensure there are no issues that would cause a buyer to get cold feet.
What to expect: A possible marketing or price adjustment
What to do: Check in with your agent—and stay positive
“The one-month milestone is a critical time in the home-selling process,” says Gharpande.
If your home hasn’t received any offers yet, your agent might suggest changing your marketing strategy. This might include adding new photos or virtual tours and hosting more open houses.
“If you’ve been holding off on staging the house or doing minor fixes, now might be the time to rethink,” Fitzgerald says. “Sometimes a small investment can make your house look way more appealing.”
And ask your agent if it’s time to adjust your pricing strategy. For example, you might want to drop the price, especially if it’s higher than comparable homes nearby.
Fourth-week tip: Sometimes, you might temporarily take your house off the market.
“That could reset the ‘days on market’ count and get rid of the bad rep a house can get if it’s been for sale too long,” says Fitzgerald.
And remember, these are general guidelines, not rules. Every seller’s experience looks very different.
“That’s why it’s so important to have an agent who gets the local market and can give advice that’s right for you,” adds Fitzgerald.