One of the questions we Realtors frequently get asked is, "When is the best time to sell our house?" In fact, what people are really asking is, "How do we get the maximum value for our property?" It is not really about the time of the year. However, weather and holidays do play an important factor in selling your home. Almost no one goes house hunting around Christmas, and few give up their summer vacations.
Late March to June is usually thought of as the best time to put a home on the market because buyer demand starts to build steadily typically following the March school break. Sales then peak during the warmer months when the nice weather and beautiful flowers make it a great time to show your home. Families with school-aged children are less likely to move during the school year and are typically looking for a summer closing. Sales typically lag mid July through to Labour Day, as people go away on vacation and start to think about the new school year. Sales surge briefly in the fall before dropping in winter as buyers and sellers focus on the holidays. However, by late January, buyers are out again and sales steadily increase into spring.
Of course, selling in the warm season isn’t the whole story. You should pay attention to your local housing market and try to list during a seller’s market when there will be more competition among buyers for your home – which could mean a better price, a quicker closing, and fewer conditions on the offer. Your Realtor will be able to tell you what your local housing market is like. On the other hand, if it is a buyer’s market, you may be in a strong position to purchase a new home, especially if you have accumulated large equity in your current property.
Another key factor to consider is the economy. Are interest rates higher or lower in comparison to your current mortgage? If they are higher, you may want to stick with your current home, as your new mortgage payments could be uncomfortable. If rates are lower, you might be able to trade up to a more expensive home without a significant increase in your monthly mortgage obligation.
Some sellers may have no choice but to sell at a slower time of year. Job relocation and the need to free up assets are facts of life that can deprive families of the luxury of waiting until the spring bloom to put their homes on the market. But there are ways to improve your chances of a sale if you need to list your home at a slower time of year, like playing up holiday decorations and shovelling walkways to maximize curb appeal. Selling at this point in the cycle isn't always the worst fate.
Trying to time the real estate market is no different than trying to predict the financial markets. One can make broad generalizations, however, precise predictions would be tantamount to having a crystal ball. If we could all predict the future, we would never have market corrections or crashes.
The truth is, there are people buying real estate every week of the year, and often for personal reasons. The best time to sell is when you are ready.