When is the best time to sell?

Nationwide, the best time to sell a home to both maximize return and minimize time on the market is in the first half of May. However, other factors can influence the best time to put your house on the market, including the specifics of your local housing market, job growth, mortgage rates, and tax incentives.

Selling a house in the spring

As you can see from the trends above, people tend to shop for homes as the weather gets warmer, so prepping your home in the winter months to sell in spring usually makes sense. With tax refunds in their pockets, nicer weather for moving in the forecast, and summer break from the kids’ school coming up, it’s easy to see why spring is typically the most popular time to buy and sell.

Prepare in the winter if you want to sell your home in spring. Photo from Zillow listing.

Selling a house in the summer

Many of the same reasons buyers shop in the spring apply to home buying in summer as well — warm weather, school breaks, and simply having more hours of sunshine to hit up open houses and take home tours. Of course, summer is the time when most people take their vacations, so that might account for a bit of a slowdown. And, there are parts of the country where real estate is slow in the summer because it’s simply too hot to shop comfortably. Among the largest U.S. real estate markets, St. Louis has the latest prime selling window — June 1-15.

Selling a house in the fall

Many buyers shopping in the early fall may be trying to move in time to get settled before the school year picks up or before the weather gets bad, and that feeling of urgency can be a benefit to sellers. However, many off-season shoppers are moving because of a job transfer, layoff, short sale, or family issue, so they can also be more sensitive to price.

Selling a house in the winter

While winter is traditionally the slowest season for home sales, if your climate is warm year-round (think Florida and the Southwest), your window for selling may even be better in the winter months as snowbirds flock to the sunshine.

List your home for sale in the optimal housing market

Of course, seasonality isn’t the only factor to keep in mind when deciding if it’s the right time to sell your house. It’s also important to consider the state of your local housing market.

Selling in a buyers market

A buyers market occurs when the number of available properties for sale exceeds the number of people looking to buy. When inventory is high, sellers can expect their home to stay on the market longer before receiving an offer, and you may have to sell below list price or make additional concessions to the buyer.

Selling in a sellers market

In a sellers market, there are more potential home buyers than there are available properties. A sellers market is the ideal time to sell your home, as you can expect it to sell more quickly and you’re more likely to receive multiple offers and sell for full price (or above).

Real estate agent showing a for-sale home

If you’re listing your home for sale in a sellers market, a steady stream of potential buyers may tour your house. Photo from Stocksy.

Local job growth makes it a good time to sell

If your local job market is booming, it’s a great time to sell your home, as there are likely job seekers or recent transplants eager for housing in your area.

Low mortgage rates inspire new buyers to purchase homes

For the last four years or so, mortgage rates have been historically low, but rates have started to rise lately and most economists agree that rates are going to keep creeping up as the economy strengthens. The higher the rates, the farther a buyer’s budget has to stretch to get the home they want. When rates are low, though, first-time buyers are especially apt to buy.

30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates over the last seven years:

The best time to sell a house is when mortgage rates drop, attracting buyers. View the last seven years of average annual rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

Tax incentives on purchases improve home selling odds

While there are currently no major federal tax incentives for first-time home buyers, like the popular First-Time Homebuyer Credit of 2008-2010, potential sellers should keep track of local, county, and state financial news, as incentives and tax laws can make it easier for potential buyers to take the leap and become homeowners.

Your readiness marks the best time to sell

When it comes down to it, the best time to sell is the best time for you. All kinds of personal factors can play into your decision to sell, from job changes to family changes to just generally feeling ready. Keep the following factors in mind:

-Lifestyle changes: Job changes, relocations, a growing family, and downsizing are the most common reasons people decide to sell. Job-related moves often require a stricter timeline, whereas family-related moves can sometimes be timed to take advantage of beneficial market factors.

-Emotional preparedness: No matter the reason for your move, it’s important to make sure you’re emotionally prepared. Even if you’re moving for a logical reason — for example, you’re a recent empty-nester downsizing after your kids are grown — it can be hard to let go of the memories associated with your family home. Give yourself time.

-Financial benefits: If your home has gained substantial equity, the value you’ve built may be enough to get you a healthy down payment on your dream home or give you a comfortable cushion for retirement.

How long does it take to list a home?

Once you’ve decided on listing your house, it’s only natural to want just get it sold. However, there are lots of important steps that need to be taken to ensure that the process goes smoothly and you get top dollar.

Experts suggest allowing at least two months to prepare, which will give you ample time to research your local market, hire an agent you trust, clean your home thoroughly, do any minor repairs, crunch the number on your payout, take those beautiful photos, and then sit back and watch the offers roll in.