The Calendar Is Key: Timing the U.S. Market to Get the Most for Your Home
Understanding the nuances of the best and worst times to list can make a big difference in your sales price
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For home sellers, attempting to time the market amps up the pressure during what’s already an extremely stressful period. List too early, and you may give up some profit. List too late, and your home could linger too long on the market.
The best time to list your home for sale in the U.S. in 2023 passed you by a few weeks ago, according to Realtor.com’s analysis. During the week of April 16-22, sellers benefit from more buyers, higher prices and less competition from other listings compared to the average week.
But don’t despair, the market hasn’t reached the worst time of year to sell yet.
“Conditions for sellers are better in the spring and remain pretty good beyond the week we identified as the best,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com. “The worst time of year for sellers is in late fall.”
The three worst weeks of the year for sellers in 2023 are expected to be Nov. 5-11, followed by Oct. 29-Nov. 4, and Oct. 22-28, according to Realtor.com’s research.
“Buyer demand slows in the late fall, so it could take longer to sell and you may not get as good a price,” Ms. Hale said. “If there’s no need to sell right then, you may be better off planning to sell in the year ahead rather than just as buyers are focused on the holidays.”
While early spring is best for sellers, there’s potentially less competition from other sellers in late summer and early fall, Ms. Hale said. From mid-November to January buyer demand slows, but because there are fewer listings on the market, that time of year is slightly better for sellers than late October to early November.
“When to list your house depends on what you’re concerned about,” Ms. Hale said. “You can typically sell your house at a higher price earlier in the fall but you’re potentially competing against other sellers. If your home doesn’t compete well, maybe you’re better off a little later in the fall.”
Seasonality in the Housing Market
Most people assume that home sales patterns are dictated by the weather. After all, the spring housing market is widely identified as the busiest of the year and many people think that’s because after hibernating for the winter buyers are ready to move.
“Most metro areas have the same worst week or best week to list your home,” Ms. Hale said. “That’s because seasonality in housing markets has more to do with life events and cultural conventions such as school schedules and holidays than with housing market trends. The weather has an influence, too, in some places because it’s easier to see houses when there’s no snow on the ground.”
Regional Variations in Home Sales
Still, different markets have seasons that can be good or bad for sellers.
“In the Miami market, September is by far the worst time of the year to list a home because you’re fully back in the swing of things such as school, activities and other commitments,” said Michael Martirena, co-founder of the Ivan and Mike Team at Compass in Miami. “It’s less than ideal to disrupt the busiest month of life to put a home on a market.”
In New York, listing your home just before Thanksgiving and anytime in December can be challenging, according to Jeremy Kamm, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Warburg in New York City. Mr. Kamm recommended waiting instead until after the start of the new year if possible.
“Fortunately, most agents would likely agree with this philosophy and therefore there’s limited inventory being released during this time, so if your home stands out in any way or you’re willing to hit the market with discounted pricing, you may still be safe,” Mr. Kamm said.
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July and December are the worst months to list your home in Chicago, said Julie Busby, founder and president of the Busby Group with Compass in Chicago.
“In July, people want to spend time enjoying the summer weather,” she said. “In December, people are busy with the holidays and less inclined to attend an open house.”
Bill Aboumrad, broker/owner of Legacy Real Estate & Associates ERA Powered in Fremont, California, said he typically recommends that sellers put their homes on the market after Super Bowl Sunday to avoid the November-December holiday season and use January to prep their house for buyers.
“The other two times of the year that are a challenge are during graduation season and back-to-school season,” Mr. Aboumrad said. “Listings that are on the market during those times see a significant reduction in traffic. Each one of those phases lasts about two to three weeks.”
Mr. Aboumrad recommended that sellers wait until after June 15 in graduation season and after Labor Day to bypass back-to-school activities.
Tips for Selling at the Wrong Time
If you must sell at a less desirable time of year and don’t want to spend a lot to renovate, Mr. Kamm recommended pricing your home accordingly.
“Edit the home decor and design and make it as inviting as possible,” he said. “Staging can be expensive, but editing is easy. Adding some small touches and changing up accessories will bring some fresh character, too.”
Creative marketing may be required if you’re selling in the off-season, too.
“Think out of the box and don’t do what everyone else does—it’s time to stage the home to perfection, host an elegant event, and make sure you hire an agent who has a PR company and an SEO webmaster to ensure your listing is getting the attention and press it deserves,” said Mr. Martirena.
If you’re selling in Chicago in July, Ms. Busby suggested bringing in a snow cone vendor to entertain the kids while their parents house hunt.
“In December, we work closely with our relocation contacts because many of the buyers looking at this time of year are relocating for work,” Ms. Busby said.
Ms. Hale, meanwhile, added that any home can still be sold at the “worst” time of year. “That’s particularly true this year because there are half as many homes for sale as there were before the pandemic,” she said. “Sellers are still in pretty good shape at any time of year because of the lack of competition.”
Via Mansion Global