Estate Agent vs FSBO vs Cash Buyer: How Long for a House Sale to Complete

How Long for a House Sale to Complete?

It depends.

We understand that this is one of the single most frustrating answers to any question – particularly to such an important one as regards selling your house. But it’s nonetheless true, and your timeline will vary significantly based on the method you choose.

These include:

  • Working with an Estate Agent
  • For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
  • Cash House Buyers

Let’s take a look at each in turn to determine how long for a house sale to complete. Remember, we are considering the time it comes to complete a sale, not the time it takes to attract an offer or secure a buyer.

It is also important to recognise that a variety of factors plays a role in how long it takes for a house sale to complete. The market, for example, may be ultra-hot, and you have an offer within hours of listing your home. In a cooler or cold market, however, your house could be sitting on the market for months without a single nibble of interest.

Other issues contribute, such as the location, the size and the age and condition of the property. When deciding which avenue to take, be sure to weigh all of these factors.

Working with an Estate Agent

Timeline: four to six months – or longer

Working with an estate agent is a great way to sell your home because you can leverage not only their expertise but their network of contacts. But even before you engage an estate agent, you will need to ensure your house is ready for buyers – and in optimal shape for an advantageous sale. This means sprucing it up, or perhaps even undertaking major repairs and renovations.

From there, the estate agent will list and market the home, as well as schedule viewings. On average, it takes about 10 viewings to sell a house. Typically, an offer comes in between a week and a month later… but again, that will vary wildly in different markets and given various factors, including the ones we have discussed above.

Next comes the work on the “back end,” so to speak. Your estate agent will take charge of crucial steps in the process, such as searches, legal enquiries, valuations and surveys. This can take up to 10 weeks to tackle.

You will then engage in negotiations and work with the buyer and their solicitor/agent to develop a contract. The buyer can rescind their offer at this point – and then you’re back at square one.

Assuming an offer goes through and it’s full steam ahead, you exchange contracts, which can take about two weeks, and set a completion date. At completion, you hand over the keys, and the buyer transfers funds.

Phew… that was a lot of work – and waiting!

For Sale By Owner

Timeline: four to six months – or longer

Selling your home yourself can either be a faster solution… or one that takes much longer. It depends. We know you hate that answer as much as we do! But it really does. In many cases, a “FSBO” property sells faster than a property represented by an estate agent because the owner is more likely to have a potential buyer in mind. For example, a parent could be selling a home to a child or a neighbour could be selling a property that next door wants to expand into.

Whatever the case, this is certainly a best case scenario. Assuming the potential buyer has financing approved and in place.

If you do not have a buyer in mind, then you will need to take all of the steps we have outlined above. Additionally, you will have to handle the legal minutia associated with a sale on your own or, ideally, with assistance from a solicitor.

Keep in mind that homes sold by the owner typically fetch a lower price (by up to 10%) but you do not have to pay estate fees.

Cash House Buyers

Timeline: four weeks – or less

A cash house buyer eliminates many of the obstacles that create delays – and expenses – in a sales process. For example, they do not have to wait for funding; they have the cash on hand. They take care of the valuations and surveys in a streamlined manner, and the seller does not have to pay for any of it. If the initial offer is acceptable, they proceed with a valuation. Pending this, they will submit a formal offer (this may change if there are significant issues with the home, such as structural damage; typically, however, it is close).

Again, if this is suitable, they work to complete the sale in a legal and ethical manner. In as little as four weeks – often closer to three – you will hand over your keys and receive funds directly in your bank account.

When time is of the essence, working with a reputable cash house buyer may be the best way to achieve your goals.

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