When you’re planning to sell your house, timing is important. You want the most people to see it and be interested, and you, of course, want it to go for the highest possible price. So when is the right timing? When is the worst time to sell a house, alternatively?
The Local Housing Market
We often think about seasonal trends when determining the best time to sell a house, and those are relevant but you have to think about the local housing market as well. Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market where you live?
While there are national trends, real estate is often much more localized. For example, following the coronavirus pandemic, many big urban markets are dealing with stagnant or declining real estate sales. New York and San Francisco are examples. However, suburban markets are thriving.
You do need to think about the local condition where your home is, and also even more specific factors, such as what the appreciation for homes in your neighborhood looks like and how this compares to where you’ll buy.
June tends to be the best time to sell a house. The summer months in general are often more favorable for sellers, from May to August. These months make up 40% of annual home sales volume according to the National Association of Realtors. With that being said, then that makes summer the worst time to buy. In the summer, there’s a seller’s premium, so you have to think about how that will balance out if you’re planning to both buy and sell.
Summer is a popular time in real estate because of the good weather and daylight savings time and the longer days. It’s somewhat simple when you think about it—there are more daylight hours, meaning more potential exposure for your home. A lot of families with children look in the summer months so they can get their kids enrolled in school by the fall.
December tends to be the worst month to sell a home. There’s not a lot of inventory, and buying activity is limited. Again, this is logical. People are thinking about the holidays and they’re traveling. Plus, the days are shorter and the weather isn't great.
Some general pros of selling a home in spring include:
• Many people get their tax refunds in the early spring so they can make renovations or repairs as-needed during this time.
• There’s more curb appeal when your lawn is in full bloom.
• If you plan ahead during the spring, you’re more likely to be well-timed for the summer rush.
The big con is that there will be more competition in spring and heading into summer, and buyers will have more choices.
Pros of selling in summer include:
• There’s more flexibility for both you and potential buyers if school is out.
• Buyers tend to feel an urgency to get their kids settled before school.
• If buyers feel urgency, they may make a more competitive offer.
The cons are similar to selling in spring. Namely, there’s more competition.
If you have to sell your home in the fall, there’s typically less competition and inventory. Also, buyers may be more serious if they’re looking in fall because they may be up against a certain deadline, such as needing to relocate for work.
If you need to make repairs, professionals are less likely to be busier and may be cheaper than they would be during the busy spring and summer.
In the West and the South, temperatures stay milder in the winter, so there may be less of a dip in home buying and selling activity in the winter. In the Midwest and the northeast, where there are extreme winters, there’s a more pronounced seasonal difference in the real estate market.
There’s no perfect time to sell a home, but there are considerations to keep in mind.