Timing can make a big difference when it comes to selling your home quickly and for the most cash. But the rules on pinpointing that best time might not be what you think.
The assumption that spring is always the best time to sell is not necessarily true. The general direction of your local economy and mortgage interest rates come into play as well.
There’s no crystal ball for reading the housing market, but there are ways to stack the deck in your favor. Here, realtor.com suggests five factors to consider before putting your house on the market.
1. Spring isn’t always the best season to sell your house
Although conventional wisdom maintains that the spring home-buying season from April to June is the ideal time to sell, that’s not always the case. In fact, one recent study even found that sellers typically net more above asking price during the months of December, January, February and March than they do from June through November.
One reason may be that the spring home-buying season generally means you’ll have more competition from other home sellers—and that may require you to price your home more aggressively to attract buyers. Numerous experts also recommend listing a home in February or March so that the property hits the market before the competition increases.
A 2018 study by ATTOM Data Solutions of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017, for example, found the second-best day of the year to sell a home is Feb. 15, with sellers netting an average premium of 9 percent above their house’s estimated market value on that day. (Sellers nab a 9.1 percent premium above market value on June 28.)
Winter also is a hot time of year for people relocating for jobs, with the biggest months for corporate relocation being January and February. Buyers who need to move quickly are out in full force looking for new homes.
2. Keep an eye on the local economy
The strength of the U.S. housing market as a whole certainly plays a role in home prices. According to a realtor.com analysis of annual price growth rates, a home’s value generally increases 3 to 4 percent a year when the economy is strong, driven by inflation and natural population growth. From 2011 to 2016, the national housing market was recovering from the bubble at a slightly higher speed: 6.3 percent a year, on average.
Be sure to assess your local economy’s conditions when determining when to list your home. One benchmark you can use is the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which monitors single-family home sales in 20 major U.S. cities. Another valuable resource is the Metropolitan Median Area Prices and Affordability tracker from the National Association of Realtors.
3. Mortgage rates matter, too
Historic data shows that more people usually buy homes when mortgage rates drop. As a result, prospective sellers should monitor the mortgage market.
Need help keeping an eye on interest rates? Realtor.com has a mortgage rate trends tracker that lets you follow interest rate changes in your local market.
4. Wait until your home’s in good shape
Your property must show well to bring in top dollar, which might require you to take some time to make repairs to your house. Any defect or condition that affects the intended function or operation of a major house system should be fixed.
That includes taking care of leaks, built-in appliances that don’t function properly, insect infestations, and any imminent safety or environmental hazards.
Even making cosmetic changes (such as repainting the kitchen or sprucing up the property’s landscaping) can make your home significantly more appealing to buyers.
Keeping up with your neighbors also is important. If all the houses on your block are beautifully furnished and landscaped, then it’s likely worth it to spend the extra cash—and the time—primping your own home for sale.
5. Your personal preparedness is a priority, too
No amount of timing should eclipse what time is right for you personally, professionally and otherwise. Are you ready to move on, or up, to bigger digs?
Many homeowners sell when they change jobs or when their children switch schools, or when the kids leave for college and the parents are ready to downsize. So, take stock of your own situation when deciding whether to put your house on the market now or wait.