You know you want to sell your house soon, but exactly when should you sell to get the best possible price?
The time of year and the market conditions in which you list your home can significantly affect your sales speed and price. Nationally, the data points to November as the best month to sell if you want to maximize your selling price, and July is the best month to sell quickly.
But do not take this data at face value. Real estate is hyper-local – you need to understand the nuances, inventory and demand of your local market to determine the best time to sell.
“It depends on what’s happening in your market, but timing always plays a big role. You want to get your house on the market when you have the most buyers, because that’s when you get the best prices,” advises top real estate agent Nicole Van Den Bosch, who realizes 32% more sales than the average real estate agent in Show Low, Arizona.
To help you pick a prime listing time, we interviewed Van Den Bosch and top Las Vegas agent Ehren Alessi. Here are the steps to take to determine the best selling point for your specific situation:
- Determine the peak sales season in your market
- Consult a top broker in your area for expert advice
- Analyze the market – but know that you cannot predict its movements
- Pay attention to interest rates, a key driver for buyers
- Determine your sales targets and how they affect the best time to sell
- Decide where you want to go
1. Determine the peak sales season in your market
Every market has a peak selling season, the time of year when most buyers look for homes. To find yours, plug your city into HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell calculator. This tool analyzes real estate transaction data to determine the best month to maximize sales price and speed.
You can also examine seasonal trends by analyzing the National Association of Realtors (NAR) existing home sales reports.
Your market’s selling season depends on many factors, such as buyer demographics, weather, and local events. For example, Van Den Bosch’s Show Low Market, Arizona’s peak season is summer, when many in-state buyers look for vacation homes in this cooler community to beat the heat.
In Vegas, Alessi says summer and fall are the best times to list:
“Usually, when the kids go back to school, it frees up time for parents to sit down and really think about trying to find a home. In those two cyclical quarters, we see buyer demand increasing every year.”
Don’t worry if you can’t make a list during peak season
There are some benefits to selling during the slower seasons when there is less inventory and therefore less competition in the market.
“It can be just as beneficial to sell in the winter if you don’t have ten other houses like your own on the market,” advises Van Den Bosch. “It depends on what the market is like in the area and what the inventory looks like.”
2. Consult a top broker in your area for expert advice
Timing the market is a challenge and best left to industry experts: brokers. Local real estate agents understand the specific nuances of your city or town and can help you decide when to list your property.
“What I’m proud of is that I watch the market every day,” Alessi notes. “I follow it weekly; I follow it monthly, quarterly and annually.”
Consult a top real estate agent to find the best time to sell your home. Share the details of your home sale with HomeLight, and we’ll match you with three top real estate agents in your area based on performance metrics such as their average listing-to-sale price ratio, transaction speed, and customer ratings.
3. Analyze the Market – But Know You Can’t Predict Its Movements
Market conditions have a significant impact on the selling price and speed of your home. In an ideal world, you want to sell in a seller’s market (when inventory is below buyer’s demand, causing prices to rise) and buy in a buyer’s market (when inventory far exceeds buyer’s demand, causing prices to fall) . However, it is difficult to predict the movements of the market, and black swan events (think of the 2008 financial crisis) can change the odds in the blink of an eye.
Most of the country has been in a seller’s market in recent years. In Q1 2021, 97% of brokers surveyed by HomeLight said they are experiencing a seller’s market, according to our Spring 2021 Top Agent Insights.
“Market conditions play a big role, period,” says Alessi. “If we are in a seller’s market, the timing of the sale of your property is not that important because the seller can always put a home on the market and sell it quickly and for a top price.”
However, buying another home right after your sale can be more challenging in a seller’s market. Of course it depends on your priorities. Whether you’re waiting for a seller’s market to cool or a buyer’s market to end, you can’t predict anything perfectly.
During a buyer’s market, on the other hand, timing can make or break your sale. Because buyers have all the power, strategically time your listing to attract the most buyers.
“You have to keep an eye on inventory levels and make sure to put your property on the market when the inventory is at least within your community,” notes Alessi.
Economists and experts predict that the The 2021 seller’s market will remain strong for the next two or three years. But that doesn’t mean conditions won’t change soon.
“Without having that crystal ball and knowing everything that will happen in the future, you can make good guesses, but you can never guarantee it,” notes Van Den Bosch.
4. Pay attention to interest rates, a key driver for buyers
Interest rates are another critical factor to consider when deciding when to sell your home. When the interest rate is lower, buyers are more likely to buy and finance a home. With a low interest rate, buyers can pay a larger mortgage than with a higher interest rate.
Alessi gives this example: A buyer can afford a $350,000 house with an interest rate of 2.8%, but can only afford a $300,000 house with an interest rate of 5%.
“The lower the interest rates, the more purchasing power they have,” he notes.
5. Determine your sales targets and how they affect the best time to sell
Of course, everyone has different goals when selling their home. Some may want the home to sell as quickly as possible, while others prioritize getting the best possible sale price.
“If you’re just trying to take advantage of the market . . . then you want to get your house on the market for the best price,” says Van Den Bosch. “But if you want to take advantage of the best price you can get, sometimes it’s better to do a few updates and make it presentable when it hits the market.”
For example, agents recommend finishing your basement or opening up your floor plan to add value and marketability to your sale. Real estate agents also almost always recommend cleaning up your exterior paint and replacing your garage door if you’re looking for a little more oomph.
6. Decide where you want to go
Selling a house is a challenge, but at the same time selling and buying a new house is complicated. Whether you plan to repurchase or rent after your sale, you need to factor your next move into your decision to sell.
In a seller’s market, it will be easier for you to sell your home, but probably more difficult to buy a new home. In particularly fast-moving markets, you may want to find your next home (whether renting or buying) before selling your current home.
“People sell their houses, then they have to find something to buy, and that’s hard. Inventory is so low it’s hard to find the next purchase,” said Alessi, who sells 86% more single-family homes than the average Las Vegas real estate agent. “So we do a lot of contingencies, rent-backs and long escrows to try and get two trades to happen at the same time.”
A rent-back is when you sell your house, but continue to live in it for a period of time as rent (paying rent to the buyer). The contingency referred to by Alessi is a contingency in the sale of a home – an offer condition that you buy your next home if and when your own home sells.
Key learning points
In summary, determining the best time to sell depends largely on your local market. If you’re in a seller’s market, chances are any time is the best time to sell. But if you’re in a buyer’s market, you need to determine the best time of year to sell and what upgrades buyers are looking for so you can ensure a top sale.
Alessi encourages sellers to take advantage of the current seller’s market while it lasts. However, he recognizes that the best time to sell also depends on your personal circumstances.
“Position yourself to sell that is good for your family and good for your real estate portfolio,” advises Alessi.
Sell your house now as…
- You are in a seller’s market (probably you!) and want to take advantage of high prices.
- You already know where you are going, whether you are buying or renting.
- You can’t wait to cash out your equity or reduce your costs.
Sell your house in a few months if…
- You’ll want to make a few upgrades before putting your home on the market.
- You are not in the selling season in your area and want to maximize your selling price.
- You’re not sure where you want to go.
Sell your house within a year if…
- You have important upgrades that you want to make before you sell, although they are not that necessary in a seller’s market.
- You wait for interest rates to fall, either to lure buyers or to buy your next home.
- You need more time to think of your next move.
Sell your house in a few years if…
- You are in a buyer’s market and want to wait to make more money from your sale.
- You want to wait in a buyer’s market to buy a cheaper home.
- You want to save more money for your next home before you sell it.