Timing can be key in many areas of life: Getting a job, a date on a Saturday night, or simply telling a joke. For homeowners, it can also play a role in getting the best price for their home when they decide to sell.
Along with factoring in buyer demand, the mortgage market and their real estate agent's track record, among other things, a smart seller will also try to time their listing just right so they get top dollar for their home. There are five timing considerations when selling a home, all centered around attracting the most buyers in seasonal trends, says Michael Corbett, a real estate expert at Trulia, which has studied peak selling seasons.
More demand from more buyers can translate into a faster sale at a higher price than at other times of the year.
Here are the five yearly calendars that impact your home's sales price:
This is a basic one that any parent with school-aged children knows about. House hunting is a lot easier in late spring and early summer for a family that wants to move before school starts. Selling a home before summer ends can help get a higher price, especially in areas with excellent schools.
Spring and early summer is also the most popular time of the year to move because the weather is better.
To avoid a big tax bill in April, some professionals who have recently graduated from college may want to move and close on escrow before the end of the year so they can deduct their closing costs and mortgage interest from their newly large incomes.
More motivated buyers may also flood the market just after tax time in April, advised by their accountants to buy a home because the mortgage interest deduction is a big tax writeoff so they won't have to write a big check to the IRS next year.
This is specific to a seller's geographic location. People living in cold climates, for example, are more likely to look for homes in warm-weather areas during the winter, Corbett says. A cold winter in New York between November and March is the perfect time to put a home on the market in Florida.
A home's features can be played up during the weather calendar, such as an Aspen home near a ski slope during tourist skiing season that's staged with ski gear and a fire burning in the fireplace. At the opposite end of the weather calendar, homes with pools sell for more in the summer, when a hot day can make a pool look more appealing.
Good weather in the high spring selling season, for example, can also mean more competition for sellers as inventory increases, which may not lead to the best price for sellers.
"It also brings out lots of looky-loo sellers who are just curious to see what their property is worth, and not really serious about selling," but are still part of the competition, says Jennifer Chiongbian, a licensed associate broker in New York, N.Y.
December is the slowest month of the year for home searches. It's a time when buyers may prefer spending time with their families and friends instead of hunting for a house. However, serious buyers will come out at Christmas and deals will close faster.
A lot of listings expire or are withdrawn in November and December because sellers think their homes won't sell, says Frances Dawson, a real estate agent at the Lake Normal Group of Re/Max Executive at the Lake in Charlotte, N.C. Less competition in December can help sellers get a better price, Dawson says, which is why she tells her clients to stay on the market through the holidays.
"They may get less showings than other times of the year, but the potential buyers are serious buyers," Dawson says.
The few homes that are for sale in November and December will attract buyers, says Don Aldrich, a real estate agent for ReMax Realty Executives in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Even if warm-weather Arizona, having a log burning in the fireplace during a Christmas home showing will improve the ambiance, Aldrich says. And some homes look beautiful when lit up and tastefully decorated for the holidays.
"As a seller, homes do look more homey during the holidays," he says.
Specific events tied to an area can also bring more buyers out, Aldrich says. January and February are popular in Scottsdale among high-end home sellers because more wealthy buyers are visiting to attend a car show, golf tournament and horse shows in the area during that time, he says.
The New Year
New Year's resolutions at the beginning of the year are another time when more home buyers come out, because they want to deal with their personal finances and buying a home is a popular resolution.
People may also be starting off the new year looking forward to career promotions or moving to a new hometown and starting a new life. Having your home listed at the start of a new year can get it in front of buyers who are more optimistic about a new year starting, and want to start it by buying a new home.
Despite these seasons, thinking outside of the box and selling outside of the seasons when inventory is low may be the best move by a seller if their housing needs allow it, Chiongbian says.
"Personally, I try to advise my clients, if they are willing or have the luxury, to be a contrarian in their way of thinking about selling their property," she says.