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It's real estate season -- or is it?

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A few other seasonal-selling strategies:

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  • Sell to a larger market: In most areas, May, June, July and August are considered the high-volume closing months, with about 40 percent of all homes selling during that four-month period.
  • The sooner, the better: While deed transfers do peak between May and August, most of those sales were actually arranged from one to three months earlier. It takes time to close home transactions.

  • Holding out: Your wait could be a long one. A home priced unreasonably high can be hard to sell in any season, particularly in a buyer's market. Industry stats show homes with price tags 5 percent above market value have a 10 times greater chance of selling than those priced 15 percent above market.
  • Reduce selling stress: Placing your home for sale as far in advance of buying the new one as possible will help remove one component out of the already complicated sales equation. You don't want to wind up juggling two mortgage payments in addition to the other exasperation associated with home selling. But don't tarry too long in visiting your targeted buying area, lest you miss its peak inventory season. (You may have to send your spouse out as a scout while you hold down the home fort.)
  • Get inside the buyer's mind: See seasonal house-hunting tips (above) and adjust strategies accordingly.
  • Buyers and sellers should also note that 60 percent of all moves in America take place in summer, according to Book as early as possible, especially if you have a clear closing date. Joyce and other movers advise that home buyers/sellers call for an estimate at least 60 days in advance of a move.

    Even with reliable spring sales peaks, the Internet has added a nonseasonal dimension to the home-buying mind-set. Virtual tours, accompanied by a wealth of neighborhood, school and civic data, can speed along the decision-making process well before a prospective home buyer hits town, agent Crawford says. "It is literally open house, 24-7, on the Web."

    In markets such as weather-friendly Southern California, seasonal factors play a much smaller role in home-inventory turnover, agents say. Terri Dillon, who owns four Realty Executive offices in the San Diego area, says house hunting is a year-round sport in her market, although spring still carries a slight edge.

    However, at year's end, says Dillon, investors who sold off residential properties midyear are often in a hurry to close on the purchase of another investment residential property to satisfy requirements of a capital-gains deferring 1031 exchange. The IRS gives you 180 days from the date of your last property's closing to close on another real estate investment to defer the previous gains tax.

    Knowing the motivation of the seller can be very important in the sales process, says Realtor Susan Marthens of Windermere Services Co. in Portland, Ore. "If they're transferring, they'll want to get it out on the market quickly," she says. "That's something people can't always control. Sometimes they'll have to negotiate accordingly."

    She adds: "But if a particular time of year isn't important to the seller ... then I always tell them, 'Right around spring.' "'s corrections policy -- Updated: June 21, 2007
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