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Sell House at the Right Time

Mar 31, 2008
According to realtors, there are several times of year when you'll get a better price on a house than at others, and some times that you'll sell a house faster than others. Here's the way that things stack up on the best time to sell a house:

Most realtors will tell you that home sales tend to hit their peak between April and August as parents take advantage of summer vacation to move their kids while they're out of school. This is mixed news for buyers, who are facing more competition for the available houses, but excellent news for you if that's when you choose to sell your house. Because there are more buyers looking, you can usually get a better price for your house. It's the old law of supply and demand.

The later in the season it gets, the easier it is to get a higher price when you sell your house. As school days near again, buyers are motivated to get the sale over with and have everyone settled before school starts again. On the other hand, according to many real estate experts, spring and summer brings out a lot of less serious buyers - people who are 'just looking', so you may need to weed prospective buyers out a little more selectively.

Autumn has fewer buyers, but they're likely to be more 'motivated', according to realtors. If you sell your house between Halloween and New Years', chances are that you'll get your house sold faster and closer to your asking price. Generally, according to realtors, autumn buyers have either waited through the busy season in hopes of a better deal, or they're facing their own time constraints - a house that's sold without a house to move into, perhaps. Another reason that people are eager to buy toward the end of the year is the desire to take advantage of IRS regulations. People who sold their own homes in the spring are now trying to close a deal on a sale in time to take advantage of a tax break. Under IRS guidelines, a home seller has 180 days to close on another sale if they want to defer taxes on the profit from their sale.

Besides seasonal considerations - the time of year and holidays - there are many other things that can affect home sale prices. When interest rates fall, for instance, house sales go up. When interest rates are lower, people are willing to finance larger amounts and are more likely to meet your asking price. Obviously, if the local economy is depressed, you won't be able to sell your home as easily.

If you keep your ear to the ground, you may be able to take advantage of local business trends. If a large company is closing, for instance, it can be good news for buyers as people caught in the whirlwind try to sell their homes, or prepare to relocate. On the reverse side, the few months on either side of a local business opening can bring buyers in from other areas of the country that are looking to buy the home you're trying to sell.

At its simplest, the breakdown looks like this:

In spring and summer, your house will fetch a higher price because parents are trying to move before school starts again.

Between November and January, your house will probably sell more quickly, and close to your asking price as people try to buy before the end of the year and take advantage of tax breaks.

Falling interest rates bring out serious buyers, making it easier for your home to sell.

Anything that improves the local economy will help your home sell.

Anything that depresses the local economy makes it a good time to buy - bad time to try to sell your home.
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