When is the best time of year to put a house on the market?

January 17, 2020
Real Estate Market

Most real estate agents are trained to answer this question in one way.  When is it a good time to put your house on the market?  Most of them will answer “Right now is the best time.”  

We call Bulls&%t.  Yes, a house can sell anytime during the year, but it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.  There can be certain times that will be most beneficial.  It’s hard to imagine, but the change between a seller’s market, neutral market, and a buyer’s market happen all within months most years.  This isn’t even addressing the price ranges this happens in.   

You might hear from friends, co-workers, or neighbors about this mystical home that had 150 showings with 40 offers. Sellers want to know how their house can do the same.  Guess what? That’s not going to be typical all year round and even rare in a seller’s market.  It’s hard to know what is true since the news is usually 60 to 90 days behind the market.  The news also goes by how many homes have closed and not how many went under contract that month.  

Take a look at this graph below of the closed transactions over the last five years.  You will see over the 5-year trend that most closings happen in June.  So now you have to back it up.  Most homes have a 35-day to the 50-day closing period after they get an accepted contract.  

Take a look at the pended sales graph. This graph is how we track when buyers are really out looking.  The most contracts over the last 5-year period are usually March and peaks in April.For the last five years, there has been a small window of time that you can list and take advantage of an extreme seller’s market.  The homes most impacted are under $300,000.  

For the last five years, there has been a small window of time that you can list and take advantage of an extreme seller’s market. The homes most impacted are under $300,000.

For the last five years, there has been a small window of time that you can list and take advantage of an extreme seller’s market. The homes most impacted are under $300,000.

What does this mean?  Our advice is to have your house on the market by February, March, or April at the latest to take advantage before the market softens.  

Let me give you a personal example.  We flipped a house with a partner in 2018 and we wanted the work completed in order to have listed by end of April no later than mid-May. This was our strategy since we knew how the market would be during this time period.  If we missed the window we knew we would have more competition. 

The contractor was behind and we were not able to get the house listed until June 22.  It was still busy but the multi offers were less commonplace, the inventory is larger and buyers start to change from needing to get into a house to taking their time and having no urgency.  

We also compromised with the partner who wanted to try a $10,000 higher list price due to all the work done to the house.   We gave the higher price two weeks to test the market and then dropped to the original price we wanted.  So here was the timeline.

  • June 22, 2018, Listed $289,900
  • July 10, 2018, Dropped the price to $279,900 (Where we should have started and wasted two weeks instead)
  • August 10, 2018, Cancelled the listing and re-listed $275,000
  • August 23, 2018, Dropped price to $269,900
  • September 21, 2018, Dropped price to $259,900
  • October 4, 2018, Cancelled the listing 

During this time, the agent and buyers were harsh on feedback and even at our lowest of $259,900 they thought it was overpriced.  We knew that fair market value was closer to the $280,000 range, but this is exactly what we see during the year on homes when not positioned correctly.  Especially with our busy road and foundation work as reasons for our house to be the second choice. 

So you would think with all the feedback and price changes that our strategy would be different for the new year.  Well, it was exactly the same as what we wanted to do originally as long as it was listed between February to April.  The only change was that we priced just under the market.

Listed on February 8th at $275,000, we had multiple offers and were under contract within 24 hours and sold at $280,000. 

We couldn’t give it away 4 months earlier versus multi-offer and getting the price we wanted. 

This is just an example of how extreme our market can be in a very short timeframe.   You can sell any time of the year but it will need a different strategy.  As a seller, you can’t think that buyers will pay for any condition of the house any time of year just because you’re at a certain price.  It just doesn’t happen.

If the time frame to list is February to April you have to think  “What will it take for my house to be ready to go on the market?”  Every seller is different and can take a few weeks or months to get ready.  Our advice would be if you are thinking of making a change to let us know.  January are a great time to start planning so you hit the market at the right time for your family and circumstances.  

Jay Brown

Twin One

Jay is the self proclaimed first twin with 5 more minutes of experience in this life.  He first found his intrigue with real estate reading a Robert Kiyosaki book titled "Rich Dad Poor Dad".  This started with his first investment property that turned into a real estate career in 2004 with Prudential Ambassador that transitioned to BHHS Ambassador Real Estate in 2013.  He also spent 5 years as the head trainer for BHHS Ambassador Real Estate teaching, learning, and introducing new technology.  When not plugged into work you'll find him with family, watching a movie, researching technology, or organizing something.

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