You're finally ready to take the big step and sell your home: you have a real estate agent lined up, you've added improvements to increase your home's value, and you may already have your next property purchased and ready to move into.
But when should you list your current property on the market?
A Budding Real Estate Market
Studies throughout North America have shown that spring is the most active time of the year for selling homes — more specifically, the busiest months for closing sales (which typically take place up to 60 days after an offer is accepted) run from March until June.
Even more specifically, sales for condos are usually highest from March to June, while detached home sales are highest from April to June, with big markets and plenty of competing bids for your listing.
Vacation homes have their own peak selling season in the spring and summer months, while large, expensive homes tend to sell best in early to mid fall.
Why does this occur?
When planning the launch of a listing on the market, it's best to keep in mind the amount of time involved in a property transaction. Once a home is sold, it can take 2-3 months for the conveyancing process to be completed and for the new family to move in. On top of that, if the family buying your home is trying to sell their old house, they would need the same amount of time to complete their own transactions before the move. If they were renting instead, they will typically need to provide their landlord with 2 months' notice.
Many families with children want to be settled in their new home before the start of the school year in September. To make that deadline, the latest they could safely buy a home would be 3 months before, near the beginning of June.
The strong spring real estate market can also affect sales in the summer by pushing up interest rates. And of course, many home buyers — and their real estate agents! — tend to take their vacation in the middle of summer, and don't want to spend it house hunting.
For that same reason, vacation properties sell best during the spring and summer, as that's when prospective buyers are most likely to visit those locations and look at the homes in person.
'Fall' Back On A Good Runner-Up
After spring, the next busiest season for home selling is early to mid fall, from September to November. Expensive homes tend to sell best in this season, as they require more forethought and investment planning than a spring sale might be able to afford — and once again, their buyers are usually on vacation during the summer.
Once November is reached, the housing market begins to slow down again as buyers prepare for the holiday season.
No Time Like The Present
While spring and fall might have the most activity and selection in terms of real estate sales, that doesn't mean you should rule out summer and winter sales entirely. Slower markets mean your selling home will face less competition from other properties for sale.
Market prices can also rise and fall relative to their usual seasonal prices, as well as be affected by the type of property being sold and its location. Even in a slow or failing seasonal market, homes in specific neighbourhoods may continue to rise in value. The best way to find out about these trends is to consult a REALTOR® active in the local market, who will have experience with price indicators such as showings and purchase offers in the area.
Buyers looking for homes in the winter months will also have less selection to choose from, which can make your home stand out more, increase demand, and add to your selling price. If the ratio of home buyers to home sellers remains the same in both winter and spring, pricing may even be identical between the two seasons. Certain types of properties such as condos and town homes tend to have steady sales throughout the year, due to being aimed at buyers without children who don't have to worry about the school year.
Ultimately there will always be home buyers and sellers — I have sold homes to buyers in all seasons — so take a look at your situation and let your real estate agent know about your needs and what works best for you. If your existing home no longer meets your needs, there may be no time like the present to get it on the market.