When is the best time to sell your home?
In a data-obsessed world, it is easy to find specific information on the best time to sell your home, down to the best day to list. But the reality is much more complicated. A variety of factors will influence the best time to list, if there even is one. Ultimately, the best time depends on what works for you and your goals, while taking the features of your home, the season, and the market into account. Although there is no replacement for an experienced real estate agent and mortgage broker when making this decision, here are four things to consider about timing:
1) Your Needs
It’s smart to consider when to sell from the perspective of potential sellers, AND you also need to consider when the right time to sell is for you and your family. If you have kids in school, you may want to time your move with the end of the school year. If you always host Christmas at your house, you want to be settled well before then. You’ll want to consider the work that needs to be done to your existing house. The more flexible your needs are, the more the other three factors come into play when deciding on when to sell. The more urgent your personal needs are, the less those other influences matter. It’s also important to consider that, while the market and timing plays a part, ultimately it really comes down to what you need and what you want your life to look like.
2) The Season:
We’ve been taught that spring is usually the best time to list your home, where selling prices are highest and listing times are lowest, however that is not always true and there are other factors to consider.
If you live in an area known for its schools and family-friendly neighbourhood, then spring can be a great time to list, because families with kids often want to look in the spring and move in the summer. Curb appeal is often heightened at this time of the year as well. However, the popularity of spring listings could mean a saturated market. If you don’t have any particularly distinguishing features that will make your house stand out amongst all the other listings, it might be better to list at another time, when competition is lower. Especially if you live in a coveted area where people are desperate to move into, listing when there is low competition could be very beneficial.
Given that we have such a short warm weather season, many of the benefits of selling a house in the spring apply to the summer as well. Especially if you live in an area where people really take care of their lawns, and everything is green and lush, the curb appeal of summer is unbeatable. There will still be families looking to move before the next school year begins, and some industries see their workloads lower in summer and have more time to look. However, vacations can really eat into the available pool of interested buyers. You also might consider a different season if the curb appeal in your neighbourhood is less than ideal – snow can be the great equalizer.
The weather is still mild, there’s less weeds on the lawn, and you’ve had some time to do some warm-weather work on your home. The competition will also usually be considerably lower. People who were away in the summer but who are looking to move before the holiday season are out looking. If you have a unique home in a coveted neighbourhood, this might be your best time to sell. However, if a key selling feature of your home is the nearby schools, this might not be a good time to sell, as families with school-age children typically won’t disrupt a school year for a move.
Although many people think this is typically not the ideal time to list – there are some circumstances where winter works to your advantage. And, homes do sell during this time! If someone is eager to move, you may be able to command a higher price because of the scarcity of listings. If you have beautiful landscaping, this isn’t a great time to show it off, but if that isn’t a feature of your home – again, snow is a great minimizer of outdoor challenges. And if someone is braving the snow, in the extreme cold, it’s safe to say they are a motivated buyer.
3) The Market
There are several things to consider when thinking about the existing market, all of which an experienced real estate agent can help you with.
First, you want to consider the current inventory. A busy market with many listings can be a good thing and a bad thing. Obviously, competition will be higher, but having a lot of data to compare can be great for an accurate home valuation.
Secondly, you’ll want to understand what is happening with mortgage rates, and how they compare to your current mortgage. Higher rates can mean less interested buyers and a higher mortgage payment for you if you are buying. Lower rates can mean an increase in potential buyers, and it can also mean you can upgrade when buying without a large bump in monthly mortgage payments.
4) Your Financial Situation
Bold prediction: you want to come out ahead when you sell your home. If you are reading this, we will assume you have some flexibility around when to list and aren’t being forced into a quick sale because of circumstance. If that is the case, then you should consider things like the equity you have built up in your existing home and your ability to put a down payment on a new home (if you are planning to buy again). Having a reasonable prediction of what you will net on a sale will allow you to determine if now is the right time, or if you need to improve your financial situation first. Ideally, you want to have built up enough equity in your home to pay off your current mortgage and have enough remaining to cover closing costs and a down payment on a new house.
When to sell is always going to be a multi-faceted answer. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Working with experienced professionals will make this decision easier, as will having all the relevant data about the market and your financial situation at your fingertips. In the end, the best time to sell will depend on your readiness to move, needs, and lifestyle.