The average Days on Market (DOM) is a good yardstick to measure whether housing inventory is moving. Generally, the higher that number goes, the more leverage a buyer has in negotiating. As the number ticks up, sellers get more and more anxious; buyers start to think: “What’s wrong with that house that it’s been on so long?”
There are two DOM statistics – Days on Market (MLS) and Days on Market (Property), or DOMM and DOMP. DOMM measures the days that a property has a particular MLS code attached to it. The MLS code is a two letter county abbreviation and 7 digit number, so something like AR1234567. DOMP measures the days that a physical address has been listed (though there are ways to cheat the system on this.) DOMP is a better indicator for buyers to use.
The average DOMP for active listings in Arlington right now is 107. (The average DOMM is 87, FYI.) That means, on average, each listing has been sitting for over 3 months. Looks pretty heavily in the buyer’s favor, right? Sellers appear to just not understand that they’re priced too high. But let’s look closer.
Looking at the 174 successful settlements for October 2007 in Arlington, I’ve graphed how long they were on the market prior to sale. We can see from this chart that the average of 107 (which would fall into the last column) isn’t a good representation of “successful” sellers. In fact, 45% of successful sellers had a contract in under a month, and almost 60% had a contract in under 60 days!
What are the implications of this?
• There are buyers out there for properties that are priced correctly.
• If a property is priced correctly—that is, the sellers “get it,” there is a good chance it will be under contract in 30 days, and a very good chance it will sell in under 60.
• On the other hand, for those sellers that don’t “get it”, the property will very likely sit for a long time—over 4 months. Right now there are 295 active listings in Arlington that have been on for over 4 months. In October, 34 settlements had a DOMP of that long. That means only 34 of 329, or about 10%, sold. Sellers, if you’ve been on for over 4 months you have only a 10% chance of selling. If you list a home and think, well we’ll have an offer in 3 or 4 months–you’re just not getting it!
• Sellers – Price it right quickly, and it will sell quickly. There are buyers out there, but they are savvy and demanding.
• Buyers – Don’t assume that you have 3 months to make up your mind on that home you love—it could very well be gone if the seller already “gets it.” If it’s priced well, the market will respond accordingly. How will you know if it’s competitively priced? Work with an agent, track micro-markets, and be actively looking in those micro-markets. Looking at an “average” won’t be enough.