Don’t you dare list for more than 90 days!

Each added sign is another 90 days on the market.

Each added sign is another 90 days on the market.

I was at a listing presentation yesterday morning, and one of the sellers asked me how long they should list the property for. They had mentioned their last Realtor wanted a year for the listing contract but they insisted on 6 months, so with some reluctance, their previous Realtor took the 6 month listing.

I mentioned to them that even 6 months is too long. They responded that the unsuccessful Realtor had told them that it would take that long (or longer) to find the right buyer, in the current market, and so on. You know the story.

I had a call today from a buyer on the mainland, that had a few questions about a property for sale in Victoria. It wasn’t my listing but they saw it from my automated listings (, and asked how long it was on the market. I replied with 94 days. Instantly, they asked if there was something wrong with the property, and why it hasn’t sold, and if I thought the sellers would be overly motivated to sell since it’s been for sale for so long.

It might sound a little unreal, but this is common. Anything over 90 days tends to get these types of questions from potential buyers. But why is this? Is 3+ months really that long in the real estate market?

Real estate sales analysis has again and again shown that you are likely to get top market value if you sell when your home has its maximum market exposure, buyer interest and showing activity. With the exception of hot sellers’ markets, this “window of opportunity” generally occurs about 2-8 weeks after you list your property, as depicted in the Activity-To-Time-On-Market diagram below.

Buyer Activity And Weeks on the Market

Buyer Activity And Weeks on the Market

To explain why this is, once a listing is entered into Matrix (our real estate software that uploads listings into MLS), it takes about a week for all the websites to gather the info and populate, such as Sotheby’s Canada –, Sotheby’s International –, My site (this site), New York Times –, Wall Street Journal –, Homes and Land Magazine –… among many others.

As well, there are proofs to be made when creating postcards, brochures, and especially video – and then they get printed and distributed. Vancouver Sun and Calgary Herald ads take about a week to deadline, then are published the next week. You can see why the most exposure usually occurs about the 3rd week.

The reason why some Realtors demand a longer listing is simple – less work, and less cost. A longer listing means the more time that they don’t have to connect again with the sellers and go through the “Why hasn’t my house sold?!” discussion, and they don’t have to pay the fees as soon to enter a property into the MLS system. AND the chance they won’t get to relist the property and have it in their “portfolio” longer.

Don’t be fooled by this. Any Realtor worth his or her salt will gladly accept – no, they will INSIST on a 90 day listing because they know that after 90 days, your listing is as stale as week old bread. And should your property not sell, then there will be accountability by the Realtor to ensure that the sellers will be happy to work with the Realtor for another 90 day term.

I always recommend a three month listing for homes up to about the $1,000,000 mark. Should you have a property that has a slightly less liquid audience, or it’s in a price range that will understandably take a bit longer to attract the right buyer, then you might consider a 4-6 month listing. But truly consider it first, don’t just sign the contract for 6 months (or longer).

And you may wonder, why not a 60 day listing? Or less? Often, anything less than 60 days is considered “a fly by night listing” by some real estate websites, and they won’t accept the listing if the term is too short (there one day and gone the next). As well, 90 days is a reasonable term to allow the Realtor ample time to market and promote your property, to find a buyer and close with a successful sale.