When is the Best Time to Put Your Home on the Market?

This is perhaps the most common question from sellers… When is the BEST time to put our home on the market?  In many parts of the country, especially in cold weather climates, this is a question that has seasonal implications.  In those areas, it is certainly eaiser to sell a home in the warm weather months of Spring and Summer, so that is when most homes come on the market.  But here in California, there isn’t a season where there is 3 feet of snow on the ground, at least in the Bay Area.  So weather is a non-issue here in terms of the optimal time to put your home on the market.

The 0ther factor that tends to come up is schools.  Many people assume that most buyers are only interested in moving once the school year is out in the summer.  Indeed, that can be a factor with some buyers, but certainly not all buyers.  This line of thinking would indicate that the best time to put your home on the market is May through July.  And if this were true, we would logically see a large percentage of home sales in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of the year.  However, if you look at this graph of closed sales by quarter for 2010 – 2012, you can see that while there is a slightly higher percentage of sales in the 2nd quarter, in general sales are fairly evenly distributed throughout all 4 quarters of the year.  This suggests that schools have some impact on buyers and their timing, but not nearly as great as you might think.  Not all buyers are concerned with the timing of schools, especially local buyers and relocation buyers.

Closed Sales

So… when is the best time to put your home on the market?  There are 2 factors to consider in this regard.. market considerations, and personal considerations.

Market Considerations.  The data suggests that there is relatively constant demand throughout the year.  And certainly that has been the case in the last few market cycles.  So conventional thinking that you should wait until Spring or Summer to put your home on the market is flawed.  Yes, there may be more buyers, but there will also be more sellers.

From a pure supply-demand perspective, the best time to put your home on the market is when there is less competition from other sellers (again assuming demand is constant).  The supply-demand imbalance has led to a surge in home prices.  We have all heard the stories of 37 offers on homes in our area, with sales prices well above asking.  This typically does not happen when there is plentiful supply.  It is the result of many buyers chasing very limited inventory.  So from a market perspective, you could argue that the first quarter and the fourth quarters are the best times to put your home on the market, as there is not as much inventory, and thus less competition.  Will the market be better in the June, August, May, or (fill in the blank)?  Who knows.  That is speculation, and if I was any good at that, I would be retired and living in Maui, not selling real estate here.  A lot can change in a few short months.

Personal Considerations.  Equally important are your personal considerations.  When is it ideal for you to move?  Are you willing to move twice, or move into a temporary apartment for a month or more, or do you want to avoid moving twice at all costs?  These are important considerations as well, as having your home for sale and/or moving can be a stressful, disruptive experience.  So if you think you should sell now, but doing so means living in a Residence Inn for 4 months with 3 kids and a dog, you may opt to wait, even if it means you may not get as much money.  Or you may get more money if you wait and the market heats up.  But again, we are entering the realm of speculation, something which I am not very good at (I purchased 5 chyrstal balls from Sharper Image,and had to return all of them because they just didn’t work).

As a seller, you should weigh these considerations, and decide what is best for you in terms of timing.  If you are still not sure, you might try calling a psychic.  But be careful… unless they are retired and living in Maui, they probably don’t know either.