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During the height of the pandemic, normal seasonal patterns all but disappeared from the housing market. There was so much demand for homes that any time was a good time to sell. Now that the market is settling down somewhat, timing is once again becoming an important consideration for home sellers.
Some patterns and trends usually do hold true throughout the year, and one is that late spring and early summer are the best times to sell. Sellers can net thousands of dollars more if they sell during the peak months of May, June and July versus the two slowest months of the year, October and December, according to a 2022 report by ATTOM Data Solutions.
Best month to sell a house
Late spring — specifically, the month of May — is the best time to sell a house. Homes sold in May net a 12.6 percent seller premium (the amount above the home’s market value), based on ATTOM’s analysis of single-family home and condo sales over the past 10 years.
Best (and worst) times of year to sell, by month
To determine the premium or discount sellers realized on a given day, ATTOM Data Solutions compared the median sale price for homes with a purchase closing on that day with the median automated valuation model (AVM) for those same properties at the time of sale. Here’s how each month of the year ranked for the best time to sell a house.
|Month||Median Sale Price||Median AVM||Seller Premium|
|Source: ATTOM Data Solutions|
The highest-earning months are, in ranking order, May, June, July and April. These four months saw nearly 17 million purchase transactions taking place during this period, according to ATTOM.
June barely beats July for second place, with a 10.7 percent seller premium, up slightly from July’s 10 percent. March and April usher in prime homebuying season with returns of 8.9 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively. By September, seller premiums start tapering off, falling to 7.9 percent.
“In general, the best time to sell a house is the summer. Conversely, that’s usually the worst time to buy, due to high prices and more demand,” says Donovan Reynolds, a real estate agent with EXP Realty in Atlanta.
Seasonality is important
While all regions experience seasonality, it is more or less pronounced depending on where you are in the country.
For example, in the South and West — where temperatures are largely more moderate — there’s less discrepancy between the peak and slow seasons, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, there’s more disparity between summer and winter in the Midwest and Northeast.
These seasonal patterns can help give sellers an indication of what to expect throughout the year.
Spring and summer are the best seasons to sell
Typically, sellers list their homes in the spring and summer because the weather is good, especially for people in colder climates. In addition, families want to buy their next home before school starts, says Realtor Liede DeValdivielso, one half of the DeValdivielso Team with the Keyes Company in Coral Gables, Florida.
Daylight savings time might also play a part in why the warmer months stimulate buying activity.
“One of the reasons buyers are more eager to view properties during spring and summer may be due to the longer days,” says Marilyn Blume, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in New York City. “By getting more exposure for your listing through more traffic, you increase the chances to receive more offers.”
Homebuyers on a deadline — for example, those who want to acquire a house before the school year begins — should make sure they’re in top financial shape before spring. That means checking your credit and debt-to-income ratio to ensure you’re in a strong position to get a mortgage preapproval. Otherwise, your efforts might be delayed.
“April is plenty of time to get a house before school starts, as long as your financing is in order,” DeValdivielso says. “The best thing to do is shop around for a loan before you start looking for a house. This will give you a good idea of what you can qualify for.”
Fall and winter are the worst seasons to sell
The decline in seller premiums typically begins in September, when the average premium drops to 7.9 percent — significantly less than the peak in May. By then, many buyers with school-aged kids have likely found a home, so the sharp drop is no surprise.
Combine the new school year with the start of the busy holiday season, and homebuying goes on the back burner during the latter part of the year. Just like in the warmer months, the weather plays a factor in the winter months, too. As the days get dark earlier and temperatures drop, people tend to stay close to home. This means less foot traffic for sellers.
October is the worst month to sell
The worst month of the year to sell a house is October, with a 5.2 percent seller premium, according to ATTOM. And those premiums stay pretty low in ensuing months. Homebuying activity typically comes to a near-standstill in December, when people tend to travel and are busy with holiday celebrations.
Of course, if you’re a buyer, the opposite holds true: The cooler months can actually be a hot time to house-hunt. There’s less competition from other buyers, and antsy sellers might be more willing to negotiate on price or other concessions.
The best day of the week to list your home
Want to get even more specific? If you really want to maximize your profits and sell quickly, list your home on a Thursday. Data from both Redfin and Zillow suggest that Thursday is the sweet spot for new listings to appear on the market, as both house-hunters and real estate agents tend to plan their weekend showings toward the end of the week. Friday is a good bet as well. Avoid listing at the beginning of the week, as that raises the likelihood that the listing will sit for a few days before most buyers are ready to look — newly added listings look fresher to buyers.
What if there’s a recession?
As happened with the pandemic, the possibility of a recession might see established housing-market trends fly out the window. Recessions can be a dicey time to sell — or buy — a home. When the economy contracts, unemployment rises and potential buyers may experience a decline in income, making it more difficult for them to be approved for a mortgage. In addition, selling a home requires paying real estate commissions and closing costs that could total tens of thousands of dollars. So it’s only worth doing if you really need to. If you can afford to hold off until the economy stabilizes a bit, that could be the smarter financial option.
More tips for sellers
Here are some more suggestions for sellers hoping to maximize their selling success:
- Real estate is very localized, so speak with an experienced real estate agent in your market who understands local sales trends. Agents can give you neighborhood-specific sales information to help you make the most strategic decision about when to list your home.
- Keep prep time in mind. Sellers should consider making key repairs and updates to their homes to maximize their return, but this can be a lengthy process. Even simple decluttering can be time-consuming, so plan accordingly and finish these projects before listing your home on the market.
- Make sure you get expert, professional-quality listing photos taken. Almost all homebuyers search for homes online these days — 96 percent, according to National Association of Realtors data — so it’s important to put your home’s best foot forward right from the beginning.