Is there a better time of year to put your home on the market? This question comes up a lot since timing can make a big difference in the final sale price. Here’s what we’ve learned during our decades in the business.
Worst time of year
First, let’s talk about a time that you should avoid. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is the worst time of year to put a house on the market. Few people are looking for a house during the holidays, so your house is likely to sit on the market for a while before getting much attention. This can result in the “stale bread effect” explained more here. To make matters worse, there is a common perception that only desperate sellers list a house during the holidays, so buyers will bid low. In both situations the house will likely sell for less than it could at a different time of year.
Upswing: After the Holidays
There are all kinds of reasons why people suddenly start shopping for homes in the new year. So January can be a good time to list a house to take advantage of this post-holiday enthusiasm. In general there are fewer homes listed at this time of year, so the lack of supply can drive up demand and competition for houses.. Some evidence for this was covered in a post earlier this year about the state of the market here in Denver. We regularly can see a significant uptick in the number of new listings and homes under contract in January vs December.
Spring and Summer
Spring and summer are when most people are looking for homes. People tend to take more vacation time in the summer months and in summer the kids are out of school. Many people plan their moves for the summer, and they may have more time to look at homes. The warmer weather is a more enjoyable time to house hunt. Spring is a particularly good time to list a house and the exact best month tends to depend on the weather. If spring comes early and the weather warms early then March or even February can be a good time to list a house. However, if winter-like weather hangs on till late, then April of May might be the best time to list your home.
Getting the time of year right increases the odds that you will get lots of traffic and have the best chance of getting competing bids. “Bidding wars” in a strong market increase the chance that you’ll get the highest sale price and/or best terms possible. And the number of days on market before going under contract tends to be small at this time of year.
An equally important part of listing a house is the prep work done before the listing goes live. If you know that you have exterior repairs or modifications to perform before selling your house, you may need to delay your listing until you can complete this work. In a state like Colorado, this probably means that you may be hard-pressed to be ready by spring.
We also keep an eye on fluctuating mortgage interest rates, other active listings in your neighborhood (the “competition”) and other circumstances that could help determine the exact timing of putting your home on the market, so that you have the best possible chance of getting a high price and good terms that lead to a successful closing.