When is the best time to buy a home? When is the best time to list and sell? One of my 365 Rules about Real Estate is that you cannot time the market. You should sell when you’re ready to sell and buy when you are ready to buy. However, during the year, the housing market expands and contracts, and perceptive home buyers and home sellers might be able to take advantage of that fact.
The Slowest Time
Now is the slowest time of year in real estate. Coming up to Christmas and over the holidays no one is thinking about listing or looking at homes. Who in their right mind will list now? I can’t think of any good reasons, except maybe if you follow the Constanza Principle.
Now (mid-December), like in the mid-summer only the leftovers are still on the market. Now is a terrible time to list, but it might be a good time to pick up a house that has been on the market a long time, has missed the market and recently had a price reduction.
Christmas aside, conventional wisdom tells us that winter is the worst time to sell a home. But is it?
Most people wait until spring to list. Over the winter, they get things ready inside and then in the spring they make the outside look nice. They know that the buyers will be out buying in the spring. But I think this is a chicken and an egg argument. The buyers might be out because the there are lots of houses to potentially buy.
Statistically, February is the best time to list. According Redfin, an online realty brokerage:
If your goal is to sell relatively quickly, February “is historically the best month to list, with an average of 66% of homes listed then selling within 90 days,” In the two-year study completed last December, researchers found that in each of 19 major markets, including cold-weather cities such as Boston and Chicago, “home sellers were better off listing their homes in the winter than during any other season.”
Also, about 12% of homes sold in January, February or March sold for over asking price.
The reason, I think is because the volume of homes on the market shrinks over the late fall and early winter as home sellers hunker down and wait for spring. At the same time, the number of home buyers builds up, looking for good houses to buy. If ever there are deals to be had, now may be the time.
The good time to buy real estate could be in the late fall and early winter as well as mid-summer. Home buyers at these times are going to be picking over the leftovers.
The best time to list your home for sale is early to mid-winter. Inventory is low but buyers are eager.