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What is the Best Time to Sell a House?

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Spring is typically when most home selling activity begins, but home sales really heat up in the summer months. Real estate is all about location, though, and where you live may have an impact on the peak selling season for your home.

When is the best time of year to sell a house?

Late spring and early summer are the best times of year to sell a home, according to a May 2021 report from real estate research firm ATTOM Data Solutions. The analysis covered 10 years’ worth of single-family and condo home sales from 2011 to 2020. Sellers realized the highest premium in May, according to the data, with median sales prices topping out at $197,400 compared to a $174,000 median value, which translates to a 13.4% premium.

March, April, June, July and August sales also pay higher premiums than the fall and winter months. The table below breaks out the top six months’ premiums based on median sales price and median value.

Best time of year for home sale premiums

Month Median Sales Price Median AVM* Seller Premium
May $197,400 $174,000 13.4%
June $206,000 $184,500 11.7%
July $209,000 $188,000 11.2%
April $190,000 $174,000 9.2%
August $205,000 $188,246 8.9%
March $185,000 $170,340 8.2%

*AVM = Automated Valuation Model

What is the best day to list a house?

Homes listed on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday will net you $1,700 more than a home listed on the weekend, according to data from Redfin on homes sold between July 2020 and February 2021.

How much you’ll make on a midweek listing premium varies based on where you live, however. For example, a midweek Boston listing may sell for $7,100 more, compared to a weekend listing. However, the payoff is only $400 for a midweek versus weekend listing in Kansas City, Mo.

When is the worst time of year to sell a house?

The fall and winter months of October and December have the lowest seller premiums earned, at 5.8% — less than half of the 13.4% premium earned for a May sale. The table below shows the seller premiums for the worst six months of the year to sell.

Worst time of year for home sale premiums

Month Median sales price Median AVM Seller premium
February $177,510 $164,000 8.2%
September $201,000 $187,000 7.5%
January $178,058 $167,000 6.6%
November $200,000 $188,000 6.4%
October $200,000 $188,979 5.8%
December $200,000 $189,000 5.8%

House selling tips for different seasons

Tips for selling a house in the spring

Warmer weather usually brings out more homebuyers, making it a good time to sell your home. Buyers who file their taxes early may have extra cash from tax refunds, and often want to get settled into their new home during their kids’ summer school break.

Tips for selling a house in the summer

Long summer days, school breaks and warm temperatures allow you to charge a premium for a home in May, June and July. Expect a bit of a slowdown in August, when many people take their summer vacations. If you live in an area where summers are very hot, such as Arizona or Nevada, you may find it easier to sell in the early spring, or even in fall and winter months.

Tips for selling a house in the fall

Once school starts, homebuyers aren’t willing to pay as high a premium. However, if you live in the Northeast or someplace where the leaves change, you may attract buyers who don’t have children or prefer to relocate during the cooler fall months and avoid the warm summer temperatures.

Tips for selling a house in the winter

Winter is generally the slowest season for home sales, with many buyers distracted by the holidays or sidelined by weather. You may need to lower your price to attract buyers during this busy season. However, winter may be the best time to sell your home if you live in a warm-weather state like Arizona, when snowbirds may decide to buy a second home to escape harsh Northeast or Midwest winters.

Selling a house in a seller’s or buyer’s market

A seller’s market is when there are more homebuyers than there are available homes for sale. Sellers have more control to demand premiums, and may even require buyers to offer more than the sales price in a very competitive market. Seller’s markets typically last 15 to 16 years, according to research by prominent economist Homer Hoyt.

Tips for selling in a seller’s market:
  • Be ready to move fast. You may find buyers willing to make all-cash offers, which means you could be moving out in weeks, not months. Make sure your move-out plans are set before you list your home in a hot market.
  • Prepare for appraised value issues. If you receive an offer that requires mortgage financing, have a plan if the home appraisal comes in lower than the sales price you accept. You can either lower your price to match the appraisal, reject it outright or ask the buyer to pay the difference.

 

A buyer’s market usually lasts about two to three years, when there are more houses for sale than there are house hunters. As a seller, you’ll need to offer more incentives to compete for buyers and be willing to adjust your price down if needed.

Tips for selling in a buyer’s market:
  • Offer to pay closing costs. Mortgage programs may allow you to pay up to 9% of a buyer’s closing costs, depending on the loan type and the buyer’s down payment amount.
  • Plan on paying for repairs. When there are more houses for sale than buyers, your home will have to be in tip-top shape to compete. If repair issues come up during the home inspection process, be prepared to fix them.

Are you ready to sell your home?

You’re probably ready to sell if:

  • You’ll make enough from the sale of your current home to afford a new home.
  • You want to move closer to friends and family.
  • Your current home is too small for your needs.
  • Your family situation has changed (for example, elderly family members moving in or college-aged kids moving out).

You should wait to sell if:

  • You’re unable to afford a new home at current prices.
  • Your income is unstable or you have bad credit and need a mortgage to buy a home.
  • Your home needs significant repairs or upgrades.

How long does it take to sell a home?

You may be able to close on a house in one to two weeks if you find a cash buyer. If your buyer needs a mortgage, it may take longer for you to close on your sale. According to ICE Mortgage Technology’s August 2021 Origination Insight Report, it took:

  • 48 days to close on a conventional purchase loan
  • 51 days to close on a purchase loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • 53 days to close on a purchase loan backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

 

 

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