We’ve all seen the sad tale of a house languishing on the market. You know the one. It looks nice from the outside, maybe with some fresh paint and a planter full of chrysanthemums on the porch. The “For Sale” sign goes up on a sunny day, and then … nothing. That same sign is still blowing in the breeze for the next several months, and neighbors begin to wonder what’s wrong with the property that no one seems to want.
No one wants to be on the wrong end of this frustrating scenario. You want to see your house get plenty of offers and earn that “Under Agreement” sign quickly so you can get on with your big new adventure in life. Fortunately, timing the market can help you get the results you want — if you know when to sell.
The Best Time to List for a Fast Sale
According to a recent study by Zillow, the first two weeks in May are peak season for home sellers. Sellers who list their properties from May 1 through May 15 can expect their homes to sell about two weeks faster on average than listings at other times of the year. Even better, they’re likely to make some more money in the process, with sales prices averaging about $2,400 more than they would outside of this window.
While the May 1-15 window is the best for most areas of the country, the Zillow study breaks data down by region. Sellers in some big cities — including New York, Chicago and San Francisco — will do better during the last two weeks of April, while Los Angeles and Denver offer faster sales at the end of May instead. Still, the results are clear: Spring is home selling season.
Not sure you can get your house on the market in the magic month of May? Take a look at the pros and cons of listing during each season of the year to help you decide what’s best for you.
Pros: As noted above, spring offers the fastest sales, and you’re likely to get a price bump to boot. Families are out in force at this time, since they’re hoping to get settled before the new school year. This means you’ll have a broad base of buyers coming to look at your house.
Cons: The competition for properties is intense, but if your house isn’t showing great curb appeal or needs some work, it might not get many second looks when there’s so much else out there on the market.
Pros: Plenty of families are still looking for housing now that school is over, which is especially good news if your property is in a desirable school district. Your house is also likely to look its best in the summer as landscape plants are in their prime.
Cons: Hot weather can be a turn-off to some shoppers, and you’ll need to make sure to keep the lawn watered and mowed to keep curb appeal high.
Pros: Lots of leases are up in September, since many renters are either on a college schedule or not too far removed from academia. That means they could be looking for more permanent housing in the fall. The weather is also particularly enticing for weekend house hunters now.
Cons: Because autumn doesn’t have the high number of home shoppers that spring does, your house probably won’t sell as fast. Less competition also means that you might have to reduce your selling price to make the sale.
Pros: Not many people are selling during the winter, so you may be able to command your price if you’re willing to wait for a buyer who needs a place but is having trouble finding one.
Cons: This is the slowest time of year, so you’re likely to end up waiting for a buyer to show up. You’ll also need to work hard to keep walkways free from snow and ice, and you may need to get creative to create curb appeal when nothing is green or growing.
Of course, individual markets vary, so it’s always best to work with a professional real estate agent when it comes to the finer points of getting your house ready to sell.