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When is the best time to sell a house?

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently resembles some variation of “when is the best time to sell my house?” The real estate industry puts out lots of answers, and if you follow any Realtors or real estate blogs for more than a year, you’ll quickly come to one conclusion: any time is a good time to sell. A quick look back at the blogs I follow revealed these headlines:

  • “7 Reasons to List Your Home for Sale This Holiday Season” (November 2018)
  • “4 Reasons to Sell Your House This Winter” (December 2018)
  • “The Best Time to List Your House? TODAY!” (January 2019)
  • “Thinking of Selling Your House? This is a Perfect Time!” (February 2019)
  • “2 Reports That Say Now is a Great Time to Sell” (March 2019)
  • “Now is the Perfect Time to Sell Your House” (July 2019)
  • “Existing Home Sales Point to a Good Time to Sell” (August 2019)

We Realtors make a living helping you consumers buy or sell homes so it’s not necessarily surprising that real estate blogs can find a good reason to sell pretty much any time of year. After all, it would be crazy to say, “Nah, now’s not a good time. You should wait.”

When someone asks me what the best of time of year to sell a house is, I have one question in reply. “What are you hoping to accomplish by selling your home?” The answer to this question will determine the answer to the previous one.

Statistically, of course, the housing market strengthens during some months more than others. And it’s those months when it is generally best to sell. For instance, during the summer when families hope to move into better school districts. On the flip side, November and December are generally slower times. People simply don’t want to pack and move during the holidays. Unless they have to.

Why do homeowners sell?

Homeowners choose to sell a home for all kinds of reasons. Broadly-speaking, though, we can divide home sellers into two categories – those who HAVE to sell and those who WANT to sell.

Homeowners HAVE to sell for many reasons, including:

  • death of a family member
  • divorce
  • job relocation
  • loss of a job making payments difficult

Those who WANT to sell do so also for many reason, including:

  • upsizing (move-up buyers)
  • downsizing
  • looking for a better lifestyle
  • moving closer to family
  • better schools
  • liquidating part of an investment portfolio

If you HAVE to sell, any time is a good time to sell your home. If you don’t have to sell, you might want to take a few things into consideration, such as buyer activity, what interest rates are doing, the political environment, and any local factors – good or bad – which might affect the value of the property.

The National Association of Realtors, through data collected over years and decades, shows us that the busiest time of year for home sellers to list their homes are January and May/June. If sellers are considering selling in November or December, they often choose to wait until after the holidays. We typically see a mass influx of new listings in January. In May/June, people are selling with the intention to make a move during the summer. There is also more buyer activity in the summer.

More buyers = more eyeballs on your home. It also means more competition in the form of other homes hitting the market. Statistics from our own MLS for Pinellas County show the same trend. The graph below shows that active listings increase the most in January though in some years May or June have seen a large increase as well.

Why Sell During a Slow Time

There are several good reasons to sell during a slower period, like during the holidays. While many home sellers will wait until a more favorable time of year, that might not be the best choice, especially if the home you’re selling isn’t your primary home (and you won’t have to convince the fam to pack and move during the holidays!)

1. Less competition among homes for sale

Would you rather be one of 6,000 homes for sale? Or one of 6,500? The first, clearly.

2. More serious buyers

We know people don’t like to move during the holidays. The buyers who are looking to buy during the holidays HAVE to buy. Maybe they’re relocating. Maybe they’ve been looking since September and keep missing out on homes due to multiple offers. Maybe they want to be in their new home before the holidays to be able to enjoy them. Whatever the reason, buyers looking during a slow time are generally serious buyers.

3. Closings happen more quickly

If there are less closings, they can happen faster. Appraisers and home inspectors can get to the appraisal or inspection faster. Title companies can get their work done faster. Lenders can approve buyers faster. We have three listings under contract right now that will go contract to closing, with financing, in less than 30 days. Typically, lenders prefer if we give them 35-45 days to close.

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels

Conclusion

The best time to sell a house is when it works best for your life and schedule. That said, we know there are certain times of the year when buyers are actively searching more than others. And there are times of the year when a large increase in home listings creates greater competition. A good Realtor will be able to help guide you through the various factors that will go into your individual home sale.


Check out my home search site at www.realtorcrisintampa.com. On there you can search homes, save neighborhoods you’re interested in, save homes you love, see local recommendations and insights, see school info, calculate commute times and much more.

Interested in an easy-to-use, no-obligation mobile search app? Try my KW app. It’s free! And it works all over the US. Download it now!

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