If you have a “Brady Bunch”-sized brood, spring and summer are absolutely, positively the best times of year to sell your home. The school year is winding down, warm weather will make packing, loading, moving and then unloading a lot easier, and you’ll be able to settle the kids into a new nest before classes resume in the fall.
For anybody else, however, it’s a mistake to cling to this outdated scenario.
Because more than half of today’s buyers aren’t married with children, they don’t base decisions on school schedules — which means spring and summer are less crucial for sellers than before, as online real estate blogs such as Zillow like to point out. And while word from the National Association of Realtors is that agents still “boast that over 50 percent of homes are sold during the summer,” this really means that the other half of all homes on the market are sold during the rest of the year.
“(Spring and summer) can be a good time of year to sell your home,” acknowledges Eddie Tyner, general manager of ForSaleByOwner.com, an online service that helps sellers bypass real estate agents and their 6 percent commissions. “Buyers are looking, agents are busy and there can be a general sense of excitement in the air.”
A rising tide lifts all boats, so FSBO sellers can benefit from seasonal market improvements. Because agents are likely to be juggling multiple clients, a tightly focused by-owner marketing effort can make a home stand out among the season’s clutter of listings. And as always, Tyner reminds, by-owner sellers are better equipped than agents to market their home to buyers. “Nobody knows your home better than you do.”
So, yes, while some buyers’ interest might traditionally bloom with the coming of spring, there are just as many who aren’t necessarily tied to the calendar.
In a survey conducted by ForSaleByOwner.com in early 2014, for example, 62 percent of respondents said now was a good time to sell a home in their area, and 61 said now was a good time to buy.
Those still unconvinced that homes sell year-round can learn from Tyner’s experience. In the dead of one of the worst winters in Chicago history, the executive listed his home using an online service and sold it himself.
“I know you can get your house exposed to buyers without going through a listing broker because I just did it,” Tyner says. “I sold my house through ForSaleByOwner.com. I closed in mid-January, so I know that it works.”
Being a by-owner seller wasn’t difficult but did require a time commitment. “Mostly, I had to be willing to go home after work to meet someone to show the house, or be willing to stay at home a little later than normal on Saturday mornings. But it absolutely worked.” Tyner estimates that including all the negotiations, he “probably spent less than 15 hours selling my home.”
He says he showed his home about 10 times, and none of the showings interfered with his job. “It’s reasonably easy for the average consumer to navigate through being a by-owner seller,” he says.
The five steps Tyner took to sell his home in winter are pretty much the ones smart by-owner sellers follow in any season: decide to sell, prepare yourself and your home, market and show, negotiate and close.
Pay particular attention to how your home appears online, Tyner says. Because the vast majority of buyers begin their search online, an important part of curb appeal has become Web appeal. Photos can make or break your listing. Tyner’s listing featured more than a dozen attractive photos of his home’s interior and exterior, all staged to allow prospective buyers to “see” themselves in the space.
Then, if you’ve done your research and listed your home at a reasonable price, it will sell.
“No matter what the time of year, there is someone out there looking for a home,” Tyner says. “Your job is to present your property in the best possible light — which, as the owner, only you can do. When you do this, your home will find a buyer.”
Now that you know that your home sale isn’t dependent on the seasons, you can concentrate on the important part: attracting as many serious buyers as possible.