How Long can a House be Under Contract?

The process of buying or selling a house can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. One crucial aspect of this journey is the time frame a home is under contract. You might wonder, “How long can a house be under contract?” The answer may not be as simple as we’d like, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The duration of a house under contract can vary depending on numerous factors. For most homes, we generally shoot for 30 days. But can it go over that? Of course! However, we’re here to help you navigate this process, understand why it can take longer than expected, and even provide tips to expedite the time frame. 

Explaining the house contract timeline.

You may have heard the term “under contract” tossed around when buying or selling a house. But what exactly does it mean, and how long can a home be under contract? 

The house contract timeline refers to when a buyer and seller agree on the terms of the sale and when the final closing takes place.

In other words, it’s the time it takes to get from “we want to buy/sell” to “keys in hand.”

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how long this process can take, it typically ranges from a few weeks to a few months. Of course, we usually shoot for 30 days if there’s financing involved and as little as 10 days if it’s a cash-deal.

Several factors can influence the duration of a house under contract. One major factor is the type of financing involved. If the buyer is obtaining a mortgage, there will be additional steps and timelines required by the lender.

Appraisals and inspections can also add time to the contract, as any issues discovered may need to be negotiated and resolved. Plus, unforeseen challenges can arise, such as title issues or delays in securing necessary documents. All these factors contribute to the overall timeline of a house under contract.

Ideally, you might hope for a quick and seamless transaction; it’s important to recognize that many variables are at play. Patience and flexibility are essential during this process.

Reasons why a house contract may take longer than expected.

We hope for a smooth and swift transaction when buying or selling a house. However, there are times when the house contract takes longer than expected. It can be frustrating, but it’s important to understand that several factors can contribute to this delay.


One common reason for a prolonged house contract is financing difficulties. For example, let’s say the lender discovers a discrepancy in the buyer’s credit history during the underwriting process. This unexpected issue requires additional documentation and clarification, causing a delay in obtaining final loan approval. As a result, the house contract may be extended to accommodate the resolution of the financing issue.

Home inspections.

Another reason for a lengthened house contract is home inspections. During the due diligence, the buyer typically hires a professional home inspector to assess the property’s condition. Suppose the inspector discovers significant issues, such as structural defects or plumbing problems. In that case, the buyer may request repairs or negotiate further financial concessions from the seller. This back-and-forth negotiation process can prolong the contract duration as both parties work towards a mutually acceptable resolution.

Legal considerations can also contribute to a lengthened house contract. For instance, if there are any unresolved title issues, such as liens or disputes over property boundaries, it may take time for these matters to be addressed and resolved before the contract can proceed. 

Understanding the typical timeframe for a house to be under contract.

When it comes to the timeframe for a house to be under contract, it can vary quite a bit. On average, homes are under contract for 30 to 60 days, but this is no longer a hard and fast rule. It depends on various factors, such as market conditions, the house’s location, and the specific details of the transaction.

We’ve had homes close in as little as 10 days when the buyer is using cash and we’ve had homes take as long as 68 days because there were financing issues.

Certain contingencies in the contract can also impact the timeline. For instance, if the buyer needs to sell their current house before they can purchase yours, the whole process could be delayed until their property is sold. Similarly, financing arrangements and inspections can also add some extra time.

It’s important to remember that while there is a usual timeframe, some houses might stay under contract for an extended period. This can happen if there are challenges during the inspection phase or if the buyers and sellers negotiate repairs and contingencies. Unexpected circumstances like changes in the buyer’s financial situation can also cause delays in the process.

Ultimately, understanding the typical timeframe for a house to be under contract can help manage your expectations. However, it’s crucial to remember that every real estate transaction is a unique experience, and many factors can influence the duration.

Why do some houses remain under contract for extended periods?

Just like people, houses can sometimes be a bit stubborn when rushing into a commitment. There are various reasons why some houses remain under contract for extended periods, and here’s a closer look at a few of them.

One common factor is pricing. If a house is initially listed above market value, it might linger on the market for a while. Potential buyers are savvy and well-informed these days and have access to data that helps determine fair pricing. So, if a house is priced too high, it may deter interested buyers or lead to longer negotiations, resulting in a longer contract period.

Another reason could be the house’s condition. If a property needs extensive repairs or updates, it may take longer to attract buyers willing to take on those projects. A house with old plumbing, a leaky roof, or outdated appliances might not be as appealing, and it may require more time to find the right buyer willing to invest in the necessary improvements.

Let’s take the case of a charming old Victorian house that has been on the market for quite some time. Despite its historical appeal, the house needs major renovations to modernize the plumbing and electrical systems, which has been a deterrent for potential buyers. While the house has its unique charm, it requires a buyer with a specific vision and the financial means to reconstruct its infrastructure. Hence, it remains under contract for an extended period, as finding the perfect match takes time.

Numerous factors can cause a house to remain under contract for a longer period. Pricing and the condition of the property are often critical factors to consider. Sometimes all it takes is finding the right buyer who values the unique character or is willing to invest in necessary improvements.

Tips for sellers to expedite the duration of a house under contract.

When expediting the duration of a house under contract, sellers have the power to take certain actions that can make a significant difference. Here are some tips and tricks to help streamline the process and get your house off the market faster—

  • Price it right. Ensure your house is competitively priced. Conduct market research and consult your real estate agent to determine the best list price. Buyers are often deterred by overpriced properties, so setting a realistic price can attract more interest and result in a faster sale.
  • Enhance curb appeal. First impressions matter! Sprucing up your house’s exterior can instantly grab potential buyers’ attention. Invest some time and effort in improving the landscaping, repainting the front door, and ensuring the overall curb appeal is excellent.
  • Stage strategically. Make your house look its best to captivate potential buyers. Consider staging your home to highlight its best features and create an inviting atmosphere. Remove excessive personal belongings and clutter to allow buyers to envision themselves living in the space.
  • Be flexible with showings. Accommodate as many showing requests as possible to maximize exposure. Buyers have busy schedules, so flexibility on your part can go a long way in attracting serious offers. Make it easy for interested buyers to view your property and keep your house ‘show-ready’ at all times.
  • Respond promptly. Timely communication is critical during the negotiation and inspection. Respond promptly to any inquiries or requests from the buyer’s agent and promptly provide the necessary documents and information. Being proactive and responsive can help build trust and keep the transaction moving forward.

Following these tips can help sellers expedite the duration of a house under contract. By pricing right, enhancing curb appeal, being flexible with showings, and responding promptly, sellers can increase the chances of a quick and successful sale. 

Be flexible when it comes to contract periods.

The duration of a house under contract can vary based on many factors, ranging from the complex nature of negotiations to the intricacies of the real estate market. It’s essential to clearly understand the timeline and potential challenges that may arise during this process. You can navigate through any obstacles and streamline the duration of a house under contract by working closely with your real estate agent.

Remember, patience is key! While it can be frustrating to wait for a house under contract to close, staying optimistic and focused on the end goal is crucial. Keep an open line of communication with your real estate agent and stay proactive throughout the process. By staying informed and proactive, you can ensure you’re doing everything you can to move the contract forward.

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