Home Renovation

When's the Best Time of Year to Sell Your Home?

We asked brokers to find out.

December 10, 2018
Photo by Pixabay.com

If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, you may have people in your ear saying, “Wait until the spring.” Most people think spring is prime time for selling a home, but we wanted to find out if that’s actually true.

We talked to a broker to find out the real best time of year to sell a house, as well as some tips on how to quickly and efficiently sell your home in the fall or winter.

Spring Might Not Be King

Most people think that spring is the best time to sell a home, and there’s some truth to this idea. Data from Zillow shows the best-selling time frames across the country are typically April and May, most likely because of the nice weather and tax refunds.

But there can be downsides of selling your home in the spring. “Many people think the best time to sell is during the spring when prices are highest,” says Scott Tobin, a broker with Windermere Realty Trust in Oregon. “Keep in mind that if you sell in the spring, then you likely have to buy your next home in the same high-priced market.”

So yes, you may get a little more for your home if you sell it in these “hot” real estate months, but you’ll probably end up paying more for your new place, as well. That said, experts agree the best time to sell your house depends on your personal situation. You’ll want to consider things like your emotional and financial preparedness, as well as lifestyle changes that could be driving your search (like a new job, salary changes, a baby on the way, etc.).

“In reality, the best time to sell is when you’re ready to sell,” says Tobin. “Consulting with your agent, accountant, financial planner, and possibly even your kids’ school advisor will help determine when the best time to sell really is.”

Selling in the Fall or Winter

If you’re ready to unload your house in the fall or winter, you have the noteworthy benefit of a less competitive market. “Fall is actually a great time to sell your home,” real estate agent Carola Encarnacion of DJK Residential in New York City told Realtor.com. “There’s less competition, and the market is still very active.”

However, there are several steps you should take to ensure your home is appealing to buyers during the colder months.

1. Keep It Cozy

To sell your home in the winter, it’s important to create a cozy, welcoming atmosphere for prospective buyers. You want them to picture themselves bundled up inside during the cold weather, hanging out with family, and hosting holiday gatherings.

“The fall and winter months are cold and dark, so it’s imperative that your home is warm and brightly lit,” says Tobin. “Keep your thermostat set to a comfortable level and make sure all the lights are on before a showing.”

A few cozy home accents can go a long way. You may even want to bake some cookies or a pie to give your home that lovely holiday smell.

2. Set the Stage

The ambience of your home is so important during the fall; consider adding a few homey touches if you haven’t already. “Place a few potted mums in seasonal colors near the door, and add a simple, natural wreath made of leaves or even wheat,” Amber Harris, a real estate agent with Washington, D.C.–based Keller Williams Capital Properties, told Realtor.com.

If you’re not good with decorating or don’t want to buy decor items, real estate professionals strongly recommend hiring a staging company. The right staging can transform your home from dark and dreary to warm, welcoming, and sellable. “If your home is lacking, a professional stager will be able bring in additional lighting, cozy furniture, and warm colors to help potential buyers feel comfortable during their showing,” explains Tobin.

3. Don’t Neglect Landscaping

Pristine landscaping and curb appeal is an essential part of selling your home, no matter the season. You may not be able to do as much with your lawn during the fall or winter, but you should make sure you keep things as neat as possible.

Start by:

  • Cleaning your gutters
  • Raking leaves off the lawn
  • Cutting back branches
  • Sweeping the walkways
  • Putting down fresh mulch

A little bit of yard maintenance can go a long way toward making your home appealing to buyers.

4. Include Summertime Photos

It’s always helpful to show buyers what they have to look forward to in the nicer weather. If possible, experts recommend including photographs of your home during the spring and summer, when foliage and flowers are in full bloom. “Adding photos of the home from a previous spring or summer can be a powerful complement to the home's marketing, but only if done correctly,” explains Tobin.

“Look at it the other way around—if it’s summer and the first photo a buyer sees is the home with snow on the ground, then the buyer’s first thought is going to be, ‘Wow, this home has been on the market a long time. Something must be seriously wrong with it or it’s way overpriced.’ With a first impression like this, buyers will pass right by without a second glance.”

While you shouldn’t necessarily lead with these photos, Tobin says it is helpful to include them as part of your tour: “Try laying out some nice prints on the table so buyers can browse through and look at the seasonal change. The more time a buyer spends in your house, the more likely they are to write an offer.”

Have you bought or sold a home during the colder months? Tell us about your experiences below!

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