Timing is everything in life, and selling a home is no exception. For example, studies have found that homes listed on a Wednesday sell for more than $2,000 more than homes listed on a Sunday. Why? The experts aren’t sure, and not everyone agrees with the findings.
Most agents suggest listing on Thursday so you can catch all the buyers planning their weekend open houses. But every agent knows there are good days and bad days to list your home, hot months and cold months.
Putting aside the best day of the week to sell a home, what’s the best time of year to sell your home? The answer isn’t simple.
July is the busiest month, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best time to sell; listing in the busiest month can get your home lost in the shuffle. In the end, whether you want to sell your house fast, or for the most money, each season has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s up to each seller to decide how those pros and cons apply to their specific situation.
Let’s look at those pros and cons of selling a home during each of the four seasons.
- Pros and Cons of Selling a House During Winter
- Pros and Cons of Selling a House During Spring
- Pros and Cons of Selling a House During Summer
- Pros and Cons of Selling a House During Fall
Pros and Cons of Selling a House During Winter
The winter months are notoriously slow for the real estate industry— but fewer buyers doesn’t mean zero buyers, and less competition can be a counterintuitive advantage.
More Attention From Buyers
Spring and summer are, by far, the busiest seasons to list your home. So if you list in winter, you’ve got the full attention of all the buyers. With fewer properties on the market to compete with, your property will look extra appealing.
Relocations Peak at the Beginning of Each Year
A lot of people start their new jobs on January 1; that means they’re moving at the end of the year. These are serious buyers under serious pressure, and this interest often translates to more offers than the (sometimes) flighty spring and summer buyers. Even better, these motivated buyers will be less picky when it comes to repairs— even major ones like a leaky roof— making for a much faster sale.
It’s not unusual for end-of-year buyers to want to rush through a sale to take advantage of tax benefits that will expire on December 31st. Much like the previous reason, this can lead to a faster, easier sale.
Agents Are Motivated
Real estate agents work on commission; typically, the listing agent and the buyer’s agent each make 3% of the final sale price. For most agents, that’s all they make; they don’t make a salary to get them through the lean times.
So in the winter, when there just aren’t many active listings, the agents will not only be able to give you their full and undivided attention— they’ll be very motivated to get a deal done, so they can get paid.
Still, real estate commission fees are steep, usually making up the largest portion of closing costs for sellers. Our partner Clever Real Estate connects sellers to elite agents in their area who’ve agreed to sell their homes for a low listing fee of 1.5%. That’s thousands in potential savings, and Clever agents provide a full service, five-star sale experience.
Intrigued? Contact Clever today for a free, no obligation consultation!
Let’s face it— a big reason that winter is so slow is because of the weather. It’s not very fun for buyers to go to open houses when it’s snowing, sleeting, or simply freezing.
That means it’s doubly important that you make your home comfortable and welcoming, if you decide to list in winter. Crank up the heat, shovel and salt your sidewalks and driveway, and offer your guests a hot drink.
Your Home’s Flaws Will Be Revealed
Leaky roof? Drafty windows? HVAC not blowing warm air?
The flaws of your home will be revealed and amplified during the winter months, often leading to lower or fewer offers from buyers. It can be useful to get a pre-home inspection to identify and address issues before buyers come knocking.
The Holidays Are Expensive
The holidays are tough on your bank account. From Thanksgiving and Christmas travel, to gifts for family and friends, that January credit card statement can be an unpleasant shock. Folks are often busy with holiday parties and seeing relatives, so home buying is often put on hold.
Under those circumstances, it’s understandable that a lot of buyers are hesitant to add the biggest purchase of their life on top of all that— not to mention the practical difficulties of getting cash for a down payment together during the most expensive stretch of the year.
The “Curb Appeal” Issue
Curb appeal is real, and it’s important; studies show that most buyers decide if they like a house within the first seven seconds. In the summer, when your lawn is vibrantly green, and your flowers are in bloom— or even in autumn, when the leaves have turned— it’s relatively easy to make your home aesthetically pleasing at a glance.
But in winter, when everything’s gray and shriveled, it can be a lot more challenging to nail that first impression. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a nice blanket of snow, but you should also do what you can to make your home presentable; tasteful holiday decorations and a thorough cleaning of your home’s facade and windows can go a long way towards make it look warm and inviting.
Remember how we said that the slow winter season can work to your advantage, since you’ll have less competition for the eyeballs of buyers? That can work both ways.
Every seller’s dream is a bidding war, and for that, you have to have competition. If you only attract one prospective buyer for your home, and they decide to play hardball, you’ll have very little leverage.
Pros and Cons of Selling a House During Spring
Spring fever is real— especially when it comes to real estate. Spring is a perennial gold rush for sellers, as buyers emerge from hibernation after the long, slow winter, and the conventional wisdom is that this is the best time to sell your house. But high competition has its own drawbacks.
Buyers who hit the market on “opening day” are highly motivated, likely have their finances in order, and know what they want. These buyers have been thinking about their home search all winter, and they have a plan. If your home fits their expectations, an offer will likely be forthcoming.
Spring is the season of renewal and rebirth, which means the trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and your grass is green. That presents a much more appealing picture than the bare trees and dead lawns of winter. Assuming you put in some landscaping work, your home will be much more attractive in the spring, and ready to make a great impression on buyers.
Every seller’s dream is to have a bidding war break out over their home— a spirited bidding war means your home can close for well above ask. In fact, the average bidding war drove the price up almost $48,000— no small amount of money.
Competition With Other Homes
Buyers flood the market in spring, but so do sellers. That means that buyers have a lot of properties to choose from, and it also means that the most desirable properties on the market will attract most of the attention.
If your home is in that elite group of properties, that’s great; you’ll have multiple offers and maybe even a bidding war. However, if you’re not selling one of those elite properties, you’ll likely have to wait until the premium buyers swing and miss at those hot homes before they take a look at yours.
Worse yet, your listing could get lost in the flood of springtime listings and may not get much attention at all.
Buyers Are More Selective
Another consequence of the hot springtime market is that buyers, confronted with tons of listings, will feel less inclined to settle. After all, they may find their ideal dream home at the next open house. So small considerations like the size of your yard, the brand of your kitchen appliances, the color of your walls, or the finishes in your bathrooms can go from points of minor contention to instant deal breakers.
This makes presentation even more important than usual; in seasons of high competition, it’s vital that you present the very best version of your home to prospective buyers, because they have unlimited options.
Pros and Cons of Selling a House During Summer
School’s out, the weather’s great, and the days are long. Summer seems like the ideal time to sell your house, and it can be— with some qualifications.
Longer days means you can have more, and longer, showings. Along with the midday weekend showings, you can add in some weeknight evening showings, to take advantage of the after-work crowd. More eyeballs on your home means more interest in your home, and more interest translates directly to a higher price.
Experienced real estate agents know that you should take your listing photos at the golden hour, when the sun shines in at just the right angle. Natural light is the most flattering light there is, and those bright summer days will show your home off to its greatest advantage.
Think about how easy it is to pack up all your stuff and haul it to the moving truck when it’s sunny and 80 degrees, compared to when it’s below freezing, and the sidewalks and driveway are covered in ice.
A little external pressure always helps close a deal, and many summer buyers will want to be in their new home by the time school starts at the end of summer. So when you see parents attending your showings in June and July, you can be assured that they aren’t just there for the free wine, or to check out your interior design; they’re serious about buying a home, and they have no time to waste.
Summer weather is great— up to a point. Once the temperature goes past that 90 degree level, people become reluctant to leave the house, and you may have to move your showings to the morning or the evening, to avoid the most intense heat.
If you’re holding open houses during the dog days of summer, make sure you crank up the air conditioning, and offer your guests cold drinks. If you live in the southern part of the U.S., consider either holding evening showings, or targeting the mellower parts of the season for your listing.
A Full House
Holding open houses can be trickier when your kids are out of school; not only can their presence at showings present a practical complication, but they may unintentionally derail your presentation by leaving their things lying around. If you have kids at home, try to arrange out-of-the-house activities during your showings, and make sure to do extra cleaning and decluttering before you show your home.
Many people plan for summer travel; August, especially, can be a very slow month. This can complicate your sale process, especially if closing falls in that late summer dead zone. Make sure you keep your own schedule open and, once you enter into serious negotiations with a buyer, make sure you compile a specific timeline that lays out all the important dates, to avoid any awkward schedule conflicts.
Lots of Competition With Other Sellers
Like the springtime, summer is a hot season in the real estate industry. Listing in the summertime means competing against a lot of other sellers, so you really have to be at the top of your game to capture buyer attention. Touches like hiring a professional landscaper or a home staging service can help you stand out from the crowd.
Pros and Cons of Selling a House During Fall
When the heat mellows and the leaves turn, your home is probably at its most charming. But the approach of winter— and the sheer number of autumn holidays— can complicate things for fall sellers.
Buyers Want to Close Before Winter
Just like summer had its own ticking clock with the approach of school, the fall has its own time pressure— the approach of winter. Most people don’t want to move in the coldest months, and they also prefer to be settled for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means that buyers who look at properties in September and October want to find a house and close on it— fast.
The Weather Is Ideal
Winter is too cold, summer is too hot, and even spring has surprise rain showers that can put a damper on a showing. But autumn, with its gentle light, colorful foliage, and moderate temperatures, is the ideal season to show a home. And in the early half of autumn, days are still long enough to do evening showings along with weekend showings.
Plenty of Buyers
While spring and summer are the peak seasons for buyer demand, there are plenty of buyers left in the fall. Many of the earlier buyers were families with kids, who wanted to get settled before school started; but according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), only 35% of buyers have kids under 18. That means nearly two-thirds of buyers are under no pressure to work against the clock— and many of them will be looking in the autumn months.
As a season, fall has a LOT of holidays, including Labor Day, Columbus Day, Halloween, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving. Those three-day weekends can cut down on open house attendance, as many people will be traveling or relaxing with family.
Late Fall Can Slow Down
Early fall equals colorful leaves, long days, and moderate temperatures. But late fall equals bare trees, bitter cold, and early sunsets— all of which can make it harder to present your home in the most flattering light. If you’re planning on a fall sale, aim for early fall, with things wrapping up before Thanksgiving.
While there are still plenty of serious buyers looking in the fall months, there’s no getting around the fact that there are fewer buyers than in spring or summer. And fewer buyers means less chance of a bidding war, and less competition overall. Considering that competition is what drives your sale price up, this isn’t a favorable trend.
Whenever you sell your home, and whatever challenges you face, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed if you’re partnered with the right agent. Our partner Clever Real Estate connects sellers to elite local agents with proven track records, who’ve agreed to a pre-negotiated commission of 1.5% (or $3,000 minimum). So no matter when you sell your home, you can be assured you’re getting the best possible advice, at the best possible rate. Contact Clever today to find out what they can do for you!
FAQs About The Best Time to Sell a House
According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), January is typically the slowest month for home sales, with the quarter of November-February representing the slowest quarter of sales.
According to Zillow, the best month, nationwide, to sell a home is May— specifically, the first half of May. Homes sold in the first two weeks of May sold nearly a week faster, and for $1,600 more, than the average listing.
Forecasting the real estate market is a tricky business for anyone, but many experts expect 2021 to be a very good year to sell a house. The CEO of Redfin has gone on record saying he expects demand for housing to be very high in 2021, driven mainly by pandemic-driven relocations and low interest rates.
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