What Does On the Market Mean in Real Estate A Complete Guide

OnTheMarket | Property, Houses & Flats for Sale & to Rent

If you’ve seen the term “on the market” in real estate listings, you might be wondering what it means exactly. In the world of buying and selling homes, “on the market” signals that a property is actively available for sale and the seller is ready to receive offers from potential buyers.

As a potential homebuyer, seeing a property labeled “on the market” is an exciting sign. It means the seller is serious about finding a buyer, and you have the opportunity to make an offer. Understanding what “on the market” signifies is crucial for navigating the world of real estate.

When a homeowner lists their property as “on the market,” they’re sending a clear message: they’re motivated to sell. This status means they’ve likely set a price, are actively promoting the property, and are open to negotiations with interested buyers.

What Does “On the Market” Mean in Real Estate?

What Does On the Market Mean in Real Estate A Complete Guide

In real estate, the term “on the market” refers to the active listing phase of the home selling process. This means the property is officially listed for sale, has been made visible to potential buyers through various channels, and the seller is actively seeking and considering offers.

Key elements of the active listing phase:

  • MLS Listing: The property’s details are entered into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), making it accessible to a wide network of real estate agents and their clients.
  • Pricing Strategy: The seller, in consultation with their agent, establishes an asking price based on market analysis and their goals.
  • Marketing and Promotion: The home is marketed through online listings, open houses, print advertising, and the real estate agent’s network.
  • Showings and Negotiations: Potential buyers are invited to tour the property, and the seller and their agent engage in negotiations over price and terms of the sale.

The “on the market” phase is a crucial part of the selling process, focused on maximizing the property’s exposure and attracting the right buyer to secure a successful sale.

How does a property get listed as “on the market”?

The process of getting a property officially listed as “on the market” starts with the seller selecting a real estate agent to represent them. They’ll sign a listing agreement that outlines the terms of their partnership. Next, the agent conducts a comparative market analysis (CMA) to evaluate similar properties that have recently sold in the area, helping determine a competitive yet realistic asking price for the property. The seller may then make necessary repairs, stage the home to increase its attractiveness, and have professional photos taken.

Once the property is ready, the agent creates a detailed listing on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is the primary platform where buyers and their agents find properties. Alongside the MLS listing, the agent implements a marketing strategy to attract potential buyers. This strategy might include online listings on popular real estate websites, social media promotion, print advertising, and open houses. The agent will coordinate showings for interested buyers and field any offers that come in. Finally, the seller and their agent carefully review any offers and negotiate on price, contingencies, and closing terms. Once a mutually agreeable offer is accepted, the property typically transitions to a “pending sale” status.

How to work with agent of “on the market”?

To work effectively with a sales agent representing properties listed on “On the Market“, focus on clear communication, professionalism, and providing support. Be proactive in reaching out to introduce yourself and express your interest in their listings. Offer comprehensive sales materials for each property, including catalogs, pricing, and samples. Demonstrate a willingness to collaborate and maintain open lines of communication to build a positive working relationship that benefits both you and the agent.

What is pricing of “On the Market?” and how to advertise ?

“On the Market” doesn’t directly refer to a specific price or pricing model. Instead, the term designates that a property is actively for sale. When it comes to determining the price of a property, the seller works closely with their real estate agent. They’ll analyze recent comparable sales in the area, the property’s condition, and the seller’s overall goals to reach a competitive asking price. There are various pricing strategies, some sellers opt to price competitively from the start, while others may set a slightly higher price anticipating negotiations, or even price lower to generate a lot of interest quickly.

Advertising real estate listings is primarily the responsibility of the seller’s real estate agent. A crucial step is listing the property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which grants exposure to a wide network of real estate agents and their clients. Agents also leverage popular online real estate websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com to showcase their listings. Additionally, social media platforms have become valuable tools in real estate marketing. Open houses offer the opportunity for potential buyers to tour the property in person, and some agents may still utilize traditional forms of advertising, such as print publications.

What’s the difference between “on the market” and “pending”, “contingent”, or “sold”?

“On the Market”

This status signals the active phase of selling a property. The home is listed on the MLS and other platforms, and the seller is actively seeking and considering offers. “On the market” implies that the seller is motivated and the property is readily available for showings.


A “pending” status means that the seller has accepted an offer on the property, but the sale hasn’t officially closed yet. There are often contingencies (conditions) that need to be met before the transaction is finalized. Common contingencies include securing financing, a satisfactory home inspection, or an appraisal that meets the agreed-upon price. While “pending” indicates a high likelihood of a sale, it’s not guaranteed until all contingencies are cleared and closing occurs.


“Contingent” has a few different meanings in real estate. It can indicate that a seller has accepted an offer, but they remain open to considering backup offers in case the current deal falls through. “Contingent” might also refer to specific clauses in a contract, such as a contingency that the sale depends on the buyer selling their current home first.


“Sold” is the most straightforward status. It means the sale has been finalized. The title has transferred to the new owner, and all the financial transactions between the buyer and seller are complete.

How to find properties that are “on the market?

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the primary database used by real estate agents. It contains detailed, up-to-date information on active listings. While the general public typically cannot directly access the MLS, many real estate websites pull their data from the MLS, providing you with a similar search experience.

Real Estate Websites

Popular real estate websites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, and Redfin offer user-friendly search tools with filters for location, price, property type, and other features. These sites are excellent resources for getting a broad overview of what’s “on the market” in your desired area.

Agent Help

Partnering with a real estate agent provides a significant advantage. Agents have full access to the MLS and often know about properties before they even hit public websites. They can set up personalized searches based on your exact criteria and alert you as soon as a new listing matches your needs. Plus, their experience navigating the market can be invaluable during the home buying process.

What opportunities do “on the market” properties present for buyers?

“On the market” properties offer buyers several potential advantages. First and foremost, these listings signal that the seller is serious about finding a buyer. This can lead to greater flexibility in negotiations, especially if the property remains on the market for some time. You may have room to negotiate on price, closing costs, or repairs.

Additionally, “on the market” homes provide a wider selection of properties to consider. You’re not limited to the unpredictable and often competitive world of off-market deals or pre-market listings. With publicly listed properties, you have access to more information upfront, allowing you to compare features, prices, and neighborhoods to make informed decisions.

Can you make an offer on a house that’s “on the market”?

Yes, you can absolutely make an offer on a house that’s listed as “on the market.” This status specifically indicates the seller is actively seeking offers. While it’s not mandatory, working with a real estate agent can significantly streamline the offer process. They’ll guide you on pricing strategies, help you craft a compelling offer, and represent your interests during negotiations.

Before making an offer, it’s wise to get pre-approved for a mortgage (if you’re financing the purchase). This demonstrates to the seller that you’re financially qualified. Your offer will typically include your proposed price, an earnest money deposit, a desired closing date, and any contingencies you might have (such as a satisfactory home inspection or the ability to secure financing). Your agent will formally submit the offer to the seller’s agent.

The seller has the option to accept your offer outright, reject it, or issue a counteroffer. This may lead to a negotiation process. If you and the seller reach a mutually agreeable price and terms, you’ll both sign a purchase contract. At this point, the property typically transitions to a “pending” status.

What are the Benefits of listing your home as “on the market”?

Absolutely! Here’s a more detailed explanation of the benefits of listing your home as “on the market”:

Maximum Exposure: Reach a Wider Audience of Buyers

When you list your home as “on the market,” you unlock the power of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is a vast database used by real estate agents, and it’s the primary tool they utilize to find properties for their clients. Listing on the MLS instantly exposes your property to a vast network of potential buyers, significantly increasing your chances of finding the right one.

Real Estate Websites and Agent Networks: Multiply Your Marketing Efforts

Beyond the MLS, reputable real estate agents will also showcase your property on popular online real estate platforms like Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia. These websites receive millions of visitors each month, further expanding your reach to a pool of motivated buyers actively searching for homes in your area. Your real estate agent’s network also plays a crucial role. They’ll leverage their established relationships with other agents, potentially generating interest from buyers who haven’t even started their online search yet.

Attract More Offers and Competitive Bidding

The increased exposure that comes with listing “on the market” often translates to more interest from potential buyers. This can lead to a bidding war, where multiple buyers compete with each other to purchase your home. In such a scenario, you’ll likely receive offers that exceed your initial asking price, maximizing the sale price of your property.

Faster Sale and Less Time on the Market

The longer a property sits on the market, the less desirable it can appear to potential buyers. Listing your home “on the market” generates a sense of urgency and attracts motivated buyers who are actively looking to purchase. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to sell your property, allowing you to move on to your next chapter more quickly.

Clear Message to Serious Buyers: You’re Motivated to Sell

When your home is listed as “on the market,” it sends a clear message to potential buyers: you’re serious about selling and open to offers. This encourages genuine buyers who are ready to make a move to schedule viewings and submit proposals.

By listing your home “on the market” and collaborating with a skilled real estate agent, you gain a significant advantage in the selling process. You’ll maximize exposure, attract serious buyers, and potentially achieve a successful sale at an optimal price within a reasonable timeframe.

How long does it take to sell a house after it’s “on the market”?

There’s no single answer to how long it takes to sell a house after it’s listed as “on the market.” Several factors influence the timeline, including:

  • Location and Market Conditions: Hot seller’s markets see homes selling quickly – sometimes within days. In slower markets, it might take weeks or even months to find the right buyer.
  • Property Price and Condition: Competitively priced homes in good condition tend to attract more interest and sell faster than overpriced or fixer-uppers.
  • Marketing and Promotion: Your agent’s strategy for advertising the property plays a significant role. Effective marketing maximizes the number of potential buyers who see your listing.
  • Seasonality: In some areas, there are peak seasons for buying and selling houses (often spring and fall) which can impact the time it takes for your home to sell.

Averages Don’t Tell the Whole Story

While you may find statistics about the average “days on market” in your area, it’s important to remember that every home is unique. Your real estate agent can provide the most accurate estimate based on their local market knowledge and recent sales of comparable properties.

Can I take my house off the market after listing it?

Yes, you generally can take your house off the market after listing it. However, there might be a few things to consider:

  • Listing Contract: Review your listing agreement with your real estate agent. It may include stipulations about early termination and potential fees.
  • Offers in Progress: If you have a pending offer, removing the listing may be more complicated. Consult your agent and potentially a real estate attorney to navigate the situation.
  • Reason for Withdrawal: Common reasons for taking a house off the market include a change of heart about selling, needing to make significant repairs before listing, or a shift in market conditions that makes your asking price seem unrealistic.

Process of Withdrawal:

Inform your agent of your wish to take the house off the market. They’ll need to remove the listing from the MLS and other real estate platforms. It might take up to 24 hours for the changes to appear on all websites. Be aware that relisting your property later (especially within a short time frame) could raise questions from potential buyers.

How to tell how long a house has been “on the market?

Real Estate Websites: Many websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com display the number of “days on market” directly on the property listing. You’ll often find this information near the listing price or under a property history section.

MLS Access: If you’re working with a real estate agent, they have full access to the MLS database. They can quickly provide you with the listing history of any property, including the original listing date and any price adjustments made over time.

Price Changes: Sometimes you can infer how long a property has been on the market based on price reductions. While not an exact science, a significant price change could indicate the property has been listed for some time.

Neighborhood Talk: If you’re interested in a specific property, consider reaching out to neighbors. They might have noticed “for sale” signs or open houses and can give you a general idea of how long the property has been on the market.

Some real estate websites may reset the “days on market” counter if a seller takes the property off the market and then re-lists it at a later date. For the most accurate information, it’s ideal to consult the MLS through a realtor or inquire directly with the listing agent.

How does the length of time “on the market” impact a property’s value?

The length of time a property stays “on the market” can significantly influence its perceived value. Extended time on the market often leads to buyer skepticism. They might wonder if there are hidden problems with the house or assume the seller is unreasonable.

This perception can weaken your negotiating power. Buyers may submit lower offers, expecting you to be desperate to sell. In some cases, extended time on the market leads to price reductions as sellers try to attract renewed interest.

However, it’s important to note that every market is different. In a hot seller’s market, even homes that linger slightly might still command strong prices due to limited inventory and high demand. Your real estate agent can best advise you on how “days on market” impacts value in your specific area.

What strategies can sellers use to sell a house quickly when it’s “on the market”?

Pricing Competitively: Work with your agent to set a realistic asking price based on recent comparable sales. Overpricing can deter buyers from the start.

Enhance Curb Appeal: First impressions matter! Mow the lawn, trim landscaping, and add a fresh coat of paint or eye-catching accents to the front door.

Stage the Interior: Declutter, depersonalize, and rearrange furniture to maximize the sense of space in your home. Consider hiring a professional stager for impactful results.

Professional Photography: High-quality photos are crucial for online listings. Your agent might have a preferred photographer, or they can recommend one.

Aggressive Marketing: Go beyond the MLS listing. Promote your property on social media, host open houses, and consider print advertising if it’s common in your area.

Be Flexible with Showings: Accommodate potential buyers’ schedules as much as possible, even for last-minute or weekend showings.

Offer Incentives: Sweeten the deal with a willingness to cover a portion of closing costs or provide a home warranty to incentivize buyers.