When you’re selling a home without the assistance of a real estate agent, there are a lot of decisions you must make that require careful consideration. One of the most important considerations is when to sell your home. Without real estate sales experience and clear knowledge of the current market, it can be challenging to determine when to pull the trigger.
While there are many people who believe that spring is the best time to list a house, there are certain reasons behind the belief that you should understand. To help you figure out the best time to sell your home, we’ve analyzed each of the seasons and provided you with additional insight into how to make the best decision for your circumstances.
Is Spring A Good Time To Sell Your Home?
The fact that real estate sales tend to kick off in the spring has caused many professionals to consider the season to be the best time to list a house. The demand for real estate tends to be higher at this time of year, so homes sell faster and often for higher prices.
As the weather warms up, buyers flock to open houses and showings. For buyers, seeing homes in the spring is not just a crucial means of learning more about a property but also a pleasant way to spend a weekend afternoon. With the trees green and flowers in bloom, curb appeal is higher, and properties tend to show better as well. However, sunny days are not the only reason buyers tend to come out in the spring.
“The spring is typically considered the best time of the year to list a home because people are knocking off the haze of winter, and after months of being inside, they begin to think about the needs that their current home is no longer addressing,” says Gretchen Coley, a REALTOR® for Gretchen Coley Properties in Raleigh, North Carolina. “If they have children, the summer months are a great time to move without disrupting their school schedules.”
Since it typically takes a few months to close on a home, families tend to prefer to start looking for a home in the spring. Doing so allows them to close and move in the summer, so their children are prepared for the new school year when fall arrives. Furthermore, with the holidays behind them and utility bills lower, buyers have more income at their disposal and can think more seriously about large purchases.
The Drawbacks Of Listing A Home In The Spring
It’s important to keep the rules of supply and demand in mind when deciding whether to list your home. As the demand for homes tends to be higher in the spring, so does the inventory. The influx of buyers leads more sellers to list their homes, which gives buyers more housing options. The increase in inventory can cause spring selling to be more complicated for FSBO sellers.
“The drawbacks are increased competition,” says Matthew Myre, CEO and lead agent of Berri Properties. “When everyone else is listing their home, you have to do something to stand out. This can be done with a solid marketing and pricing plan.”
When competing with other sellers for buyers, you must make sure that you’ve priced your home to sell. Meaning, you should pay close attention to comparable properties to determine what your home is worth. Your asking price should be aligned with what similar homes have sold for in the last 6 months. However, it’s also important that you keep an eye on current listings. You want to ensure that your house isn’t listed for more than other houses in your area.
For FSBO sellers, analyzing comparable properties is typically more challenging because they don’t have access to the MLS, which provides real estate agents with the most up-to-date information on listings and recent sales. If you’re worried about pricing your home competitively, ForSaleByOwner’s Pro Pricing service can help you. Through the service, you can arrange for a licensed professional to perform an in-depth evaluation of your home and provide you with a property valuation for half the cost of an appraisal.
Listing A Home In The Summer
While some buyers may have already purchased homes come late June and others may be on vacation, listing your home during the summer can come with certain benefits.
“Many of the houses that would be potential competitors have already been sold during the spring months, so while there are still likely to be many homes on the market, the ones that are ‘left’ are likely to still be overpriced and looked over by new buyers on the scene,” says Melanie Hartmann, owner of Creo Home Buyers in Baltimore, Maryland. “So, listing your house for a reasonable price should lower the days it is listed on the market before it sells.”
The Benefits Of Listing A Home In The Summer
- There will be less competition among sellers than there was in the spring.
- Warm weather enhances curb appeal and makes showings more enjoyable.
- Buyers with children may be more eager to make serious offers and close quickly.
- Pricing is easier as more comparable properties will have sold in the spring.
The Drawbacks Of Listing A Home In The Summer
- If the weather is too hot, buyers may be on vacation or less inclined to see homes.
- Since the peak season is ending, buyers may be looking for more seller concessions.
- With schools out, sellers with children may find it more difficult to keep their homes clean, organized and ready to be shown.
- Your utility bills may be higher, as it’s important to keep the AC on throughout showings.
Listing A Home In The Fall
If you live in a location that gets very hot during the spring and summer, you may find that fall is the perfect time to list your home. However, if you choose to do so, it’s vital that your pricing reflects the current market.
“You are competing with the houses that didn’t sell during the spring and summer months, meaning you may have to list your house for less than it’s valued because many other sellers will also be lowering the prices on their homes in order to get them sold ‘off-season,’” says Hartmann.
The Benefits Of Listing A Home In The Fall
- Fall foliage can greatly enhance curb appeal and marketing photos.
- With fewer homes on the market, there will be less competition for buyers.
- Buyers will be eager to close before the holidays.
The Drawbacks Of Listing A Home In The Fall
- Just as there will be less supply, the demand will also be lower.
- With fewer interested buyers, your home may sit on the market longer, or you may have to agree to seller concessions.
- As the leaves fall, maintaining your landscaping will become more time-consuming or expensive.
Listing A Home In The Winter
For those who live in a resort or ski area, winter is the prime selling season. For everyone else, as the weather turns frigid, both supply and demand drop. Still, there are some advantages to selling in the wintertime.
“The good part of listing a home in the winter is the lack of competition among other homes,” says Myre. “It gives you more exposure. The bad part is that your home will often sit on the market for a longer period of time due to a lack of buyer activity.”
The Benefits Of Listing A Home In The Winter
- The real estate inventory tends to be the lowest during the winter, so potential buyers will be more aware of and interested in the homes that are on the market.
- Interested buyers will be motivated to close before the end of the year, especially those who will be starting new jobs in the new year.
- Minimal, secular holiday decorations can give properties a homier feel.
The Drawbacks Of Listing A Home In The Winter
- The cold weather may prevent buyers from seeing properties.
- Buyers may be saving their money for gifts and vacations.
- With shorter days and flat light, homes may not show as well.
- Buyers often look for better deals and may make lowball offers.
- The freezing temperatures may reveal unexpected problems with homes during a time when it’s harder to make repairs.
- Heating bills may become more expensive, as it’s important to keep the heat on in all rooms when showing.
When Should You Put Your House On The Market?
Although many people think that you should sell your home in the spring, it’s far more important to pay attention to the climate of the current market. When possible, FSBO sellers should try to sell their homes during a seller’s market. A seller’s market occurs when the demand for real estate exceeds the supply. These conditions are preferable to sellers. When there are more anxious buyers than there are homes available, homes sell faster, and sellers have the power to negotiate higher prices and better terms.
However, at times it’s vital to think beyond market conditions. Your needs should come first. If you must sell due to financial reasons or the need to relocate, waiting could cost you far more.
After a number of his New York City clients asked if they should list their homes in the spring, James McGrath, co-founder of the NYC brokerage firm, Yoreevo, crunched the numbers: “As best I could tell, the most favorable month of the year got prices about 1.5% higher than the worst month of the year. In other words, you’re usually looking at less than a 1% difference on price. Is it worth rescheduling your life for a few thousand dollars?”
Ultimately, you must do what’s best for your circumstances. Remember, there are advantages and disadvantages for every season. While spring may bring more buyers, it’s also the season with the greatest inventory. The best way to overcome the drawbacks of the season you choose is to price your home competitively.
Selling your home independently can be challenging, but ForSaleByOwner.com is here to guide you through each step. Sign up for our Independent or Partner package to receive advice and tools that will help you list and price your home.