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When is the best time to sell a house?

A father and son move into a new home
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Before you decide to take photos of your house to list it for sale, take a close look at the calendar. Sure, the characteristics of your property matter — how nice the kitchen is or how great that basement remodel looks can be enticing — but one of the key ingredients of a successful sale has less to do with your home and more to do with when more buyers are hunting. Figuring out the best time to sell your house relies on knowing when someone might be willing to pay more to buy it.

What’s the best time of year to sell a house?

The best time of year to sell a house is when you stand to make the most profit. With that in mind, the end of spring is the ideal time to put your home on the market,  according to ATTOM Data Solutions, which found that the month of May delivers the highest seller premiums. A seller premium indicates how far above market value a home goes.

As ATTOM reports, between 2011 and 2020, seller premiums averaged 13.4 percent in May. June was a close second with seller premiums of 11.7 percent, and July followed with seller premiums of 11.2 percent.

Part of the spring and summer buzz is tied to the weather, particularly in places where the summer is a relief from a brutal winter. After all, it’s more fun to leave home to tour someone else’s home when you aren’t dealing with snow and ice. However, it’s also important to note that families with children generally want to find a new home before the beginning of the school year, as well.

It’s best to avoid the end of the year if you’re trying to sell a house. As people are shopping for holiday gifts and closing out the year, fewer are looking for the big expense of a new home. In fact, in December, seller premiums were just 5.8 percent, the ATTOM analysis shows.

What is the best day to list a house for sale?

While the month is important, the day of the week can also play a role when selling your house. Ask a real estate agent, and you’ll likely hear that Thursdays are considered the best day to post a new listing. That’s because many prospective buyers dedicate their weekends to open houses. If your listing can garner a lot of attention in the period just before the weekend, that Saturday or Sunday open house will be well-attended.

Then, you’ll have the power of a crowd on your side: Buyers tend to be more interested when they know other buyers are coveting your property, too, and you want your property to collect as much interest as possible as soon as you list it. If it sits on the market for longer than a couple of weeks, buyers could take that as a chance to offer you less — or worse, not offer anything at all.

Is 2022 a good year to sell your home?

Whether 2022 is a “good” year to sell your home depends a lot on individual circumstances, but in general, it is a seller’s market, and you can expect to fare well if you list your home for sale.

As of December 2021, the median sales price of an existing home increased by more than 15 percent versus the same time last year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The simple law of supply and demand is driving up prices: There simply aren’t enough houses available to keep up with the number of people who want to buy a home.

If dealing with the back-and-forth of a buyer who needs to get approval from a lender sounds cumbersome, you’ll enjoy knowing that you might not even have to deal with that process. More buyers are paying in cash with no need to secure mortgages. In December, all-cash sales made up 23 percent of existing home purchases, NAR reports. Homes are also selling fast — 19 days on the market, typically.

How to decide when to sell your home

Due to the current seller’s market, you might be tempted to list your home immediately.  However, deciding when to sell your home involves thinking through some key questions:

1. What is your house worth?

Every home is different. The national headlines have focused on surging real estate prices, but it’s important to get a sense of your local market. Look at similar properties — the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, parking options, and other key characteristics — that have recently sold within a few miles of your home to get a temperature check of the market.

2. What does the local market look like?

Look at your city and neighborhood to get an idea of what else is on the market. Are there loads of properties that look similar to yours? In that case, your property might get lost in the shuffle. Is your home a unique offering? Then it might be a great time to sell a house. For example, if there are a lot of two-bedroom condos available, a single-family home with a backyard can capture a lot of attention.

3. What are you willing to accept?

Don’t list your home expecting to get an above-asking offer. The current market is especially competitive, but traditionally, transactions involve starting with the list price and reviewing lower offers. It’s a bargaining game, and it also requires an understanding of how low you are willing to go before deciding to stay in your home.

4. Where are you going to live next?

When it’s a great time to sell your house, it’s a terrible time to buy one. Have a plan of where you’re moving and what kind of property you want to call home. If you’re relocating to a new city, do your research to get a sense of what you’ll be able to buy. Be sure to include other costs in the equation, too, such as your moving expenses and new furniture. Consider if you’re willing to downsize, as well. If you’re at a place in life where you need less space, you might be able to sell your house, buy a nicer (but smaller) one and save more of your profit.

5. How long can you afford to wait?

If you have a plan in place in February, think about whether you can hold out for a few months. The shortest month of the year coincides with the smallest sales price of any month. ATTOM’s report shows that the median sale price in February was $177,510. While sellers still saw a premium of 8.2 percent, waiting until the sun shines in the spring (and the winter jackets go back in the closet) can make a meaningful difference for your dollars.

Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and covers topics like credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Mortgage editor