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Timing is everything and this is particularly true when selling a house. In fact, sellers can potentially net thousands of dollars more if they sell during the peak month of June versus the two slowest months of the year, October and December, according to a recent report by ATTOM Data.
Best time to sell a house
The first month of summer — June — is the best time to sell a house, netting a 9.2 percent seller premium, based on ATTOM Data’s analysis of 28 million single-family home and condo sales over eight years.
The busiest four months (May, June, July and August) make up 40 percent of annual home sales volume, with an average of 2.1 million purchase transactions taking place during this period, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
“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 Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Atlanta.
May barely beats July for second place, with a 7.4 percent seller premium, up slightly from July’s 7.3 percent. March and April usher in homebuying season with above-average returns, 6.1 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively. By August, seller premiums start tapering off, falling to 5.8 percent.
Why spring/summer is the best time to sell a house
Typically, sellers list their homes in the spring and summer because the weather is good, especially for people in colder climates, and they want to buy their next home before school starts, says Realtor Liede DeValdivielso, one half of the 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 Warburg 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 buy a house in time for school — should make sure they’re in top shape to buy a home. That means they’ve checked their credit and debt-to-income ratio to ensure they’re in a strong position to get a mortgage preapproval, otherwise, their 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.”
Why fall/winter is the worst time to sell a house
The worst time of the year to sell a house is December, which ties with October at a 3.3 percent seller premium, according to ATTOM Data. December is when homebuying activity comes to a standstill and there’s little inventory available.
The decline in seller premiums typically begins in September, when the average premium drops to 4.7 percent, or nearly half that of the peak in June. By then, many buyers with school-aged kids have likely found a home, so the sharp decline 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. This is particularly true in December when people travel for the holidays and are busy with holiday events.
The exception are people who are relocating for business, which tends to happen in December and January, DeValdivielso says.
Just like in the warmer months, the weather also plays a factor in the winter months. As the days get darker earlier and temperatures drop, people tend to stay close to home. This means less foot traffic for sellers.
Seasonality changes by regions
While all regions experience seasonality, it gets 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 NAR. However, in the Midwest and Northeast, there’s more contrast between summer and winter.
These seasonal patterns can help give sellers an indication of what to expect throughout the year.
Next steps for sellers
Because real estate is local, speak with an experienced real estate agent in your market who understands sales trends. Real estate agents can give you neighborhood-specific sales information so you can make a strategic decision about when to sell.
Keep prep time in mind. To maximize your return, sellers should consider making key repairs and updates to their homes, 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.
When figuring out the best time to sell a house in your market, don’t forget that a difference of a few months can translate into thousands of dollars in either profit or loss. Work closely with your real estate agent so you can time it right and meet your goals.