A common question from a buyer or seller is: what is the best time to buy or sell a home? In the clothing world, it makes sense to get the best “deal” on winter clothes at the end of winter and that you likely will pay top dollar for a swimsuit in April. Does the same trend hold true for real estate purchases and sales? Not really. But there are some considerations a buyer or seller should make as they enter the market that could have an impact on the transaction.
Spring and fall are better times for buyers
Let’s be clear. You can’t ever time a home purchase. Buying a home isn’t like buying a car or an iPad. The home buying process is a journey, one that happens on your own time and only after you’ve done enough research, seen enough homes and have your financial house in order.
At any one time there is a brand-new buyer entering the market and then another who has done enough research and becomes a very serious buyer. Nobody can control the evolution. But something for a buyer to consider is that real estate inventory tends to fluctuate by season. Each spring and fall we tend to see an increase in home inventory due to the seasons. More inventory means more options for buyers.
Holidays and winter are best times for sellers
It’s not conventional for a seller to list their home before the holidays or in the dead of winter for obvious reasons. But serious, eager buyers don’t care about the season or timing. At any one point of the year, there will be a very motivated, experienced buyer ready to make an offer, no matter the season. I’ve written contracts on Thanksgiving, closed escrow on New Year’s Eve and even had a serious buyer make an offer using DocuSign from a beach in Hawaii. Sellers believe that it’s more conventional to list for the spring “selling” season and then again after the summer. If you go the conventional route, you will see more competition. If you can sell “off season” you might fare better because there are still serious buyers, but less homes for sale.
Best time of day to list a home
The Sunday open house, particularly the first Sunday, is the holy grail of real estate. For decades, agents and sellers worked hard on a listing with a deadline being the first open house. The “for sale” sign, which made the listing official a generation ago, would go in front of the house the days leading up the first open house. In the digital age, the listing goes “live” online. Sellers and agents work hard to clean, paint or prep the home in time for the photo shoot. Agents and sellers tend to rush to the finish and you will see many listings hit the market late Thursday afternoon or Friday morning, with Sunday being the first showing. Instead, try listing on Monday or Tuesday and don’t do any showings until the open house on Sunday. You can build momentum and have a very strong first open house.
As much as buyers and sellers try to strategize the timing of a real estate purchase or sale, it’s never that easy. Unlike Macy’s or Target, who control inventory and monitory competitive activity, there isn’t one seller in real estate. Sellers are unrelated and disconnected and the types of homes are different making it nearly impossible to “time” a purchase or sale.