You know you want to sell your house soon, but exactly when should you sell to secure the best possible price?
The time of year and market conditions you list your home in can significantly impact your sale speed and price. Nationally, data points to November as the best month to sell if you’re looking to maximize your sales price, and July is the best month if you’re looking to sell fast.
But don’t take this data at face value. Real estate is hyperlocal — you need to understand your local market’s nuances, inventory, and demand to determine the best time to sell.
“It depends on what’s happening in your market, but timing always plays a big factor in it. You want to get your house on the market when you have the most buyers looking because that’s when you get the best prices,” advises top real estate agent Nicole Van Den Bosch, who completes 32% more sales than the average agent in Show Low, Arizona.
To help you choose a prime listing time, we interviewed Van Den Bosch and top agent Ehren Alessi of Las Vegas. Here are the steps you need to take to determine the best time to sell for your particular situation:
- Determine the peak selling season in your market
- Consult a top real estate agent in your area for expert advice
- Analyze the market — but know you can’t predict its movements
- Pay attention to interest rates, a major motivation for buyers
- Determine your selling objectives and how they impact the best time to sell
- Decide where you want to move next
1. Determine the peak selling season in your market
Every market has a peak selling season, the time of year when the most buyers are looking for houses. 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 sale price and speed.
You can also explore seasonal trends by analyzing the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) existing home sales reports.
Your market’s peak selling season depends on many factors like buyer demographics, weather, and local events. For example, Van Den Bosch’s market, Show Low, Arizona’s peak season is summer when many in-state buyers shop for vacation homes in this cooler community to beat the heat.
In Vegas, Alessi says that the summer and fall are the best times to list:
“Usually, when the kids get back into school, it frees up time for parents to sit down and really think about trying to find a home. We see the buyer demand increase during those two cyclical quarters every year.”
Don’t sweat it if you can’t list during the peak season
There are some benefits to selling during the slower seasons when there’s less inventory and, therefore, less competition on the market.
“It can be just as advantageous to sell in the winter when you don’t have ten other houses like your own on the market,” Van Den Bosch advises. “It depends on what the market’s like in the area and what the inventory is like.”
2. Consult a top real estate agent in your area for expert advice
Timing the market is challenging and is best left to industry experts: real estate agents. 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 pride myself in is I watch the market every single day,” Alessi remarks. “I track it weekly; I track it monthly, quarterly, and annually.”
To hone in on the best time to sell your house, consult a top real estate agent. Share your home sale details with HomeLight, and we’ll match you with three top real estate agents in your area based on performance stats like their average list to sale price ratio, transaction speed, and client reviews.
3. Analyze the market — but know you can’t predict its movements
Market conditions significantly impact your home sale price and speed. In an ideal world, you want to sell in a seller’s market (when inventory is lower than buyer demand, pushing prices up) and buy in a buyer’s market (when inventory greatly exceeds buyer demand, pushing prices down). However, it’s difficult to predict the market’s movements, and black swan events (think the 2008 financial crisis) can shift the odds in an instant.
Most of the country has been in a seller’s market for the last few years. In Q1 of 2021, 97% of real estate agents surveyed by HomeLight said they are experiencing a seller’s market, according to our Top Agent Insights for Spring 2021.
“Market conditions play a big role, period,” Alessi shares. “If we’re in a seller’s market the timing of selling your property isn’t as important because the seller can always put a house on the market and sell it quickly and for top dollar.”
However, buying another house immediately after your sale can be more challenging in a seller’s market. It depends on your priorities, of course. Whether you’re waiting for a seller’s market to cool down or a buyer’s market to come to a close, you won’t be able to 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, you’ll need to strategically time your listing to appeal to the most buyers.
“You have to watch the inventory levels and make sure that you put your property on the market when the inventory’s at the least within your community,” Alessi notes.
Economists and experts predict that the 2021 seller’s market will hold strong for the next two or three years. But that doesn’t mean that conditions won’t change soon.
“Without having that crystal ball and knowing everything that’s going to happen in the future, you can make some good guesses, but you can never guarantee it,” Van Den Bosch remarks.
4. Pay attention to interest rates, a major motivation for buyers
Interest rates are another critical factor to take into consideration when deciding when to sell your home. When interest rates are lower, buyers are more inclined to purchase and finance a home. With low-interest rates, buyers can afford a larger mortgage than they would with higher interest rates.
Alessi provides this example: A buyer could afford a $350,000 home at 2.8% interest but could only afford a $300,000 home at 5% interest.
“The lower the interest rate, the more purchasing power they have,” he comments.
5. Determine your selling objectives and how they impact the best time to sell
Of course, everybody has different objectives for selling their home. Some might want to get the house sold as quickly as possible, while others prioritize getting the best sale price possible.
“If you’re simply trying to take advantage of the market . . . that’s when you want to get your home on the market to get the best price,” Van Den Bosch shares. “But if you’re wanting to take advantage of getting the best price you can, sometimes it is better to do a couple of updates and have it presentable when it hits the market.”
For example, agents recommend finishing your basement or opening your floor plan to add value and marketability to your sale. Real estate agents also almost always suggest cleaning up your exterior paint and replacing your garage door if you’re looking to add some curb appeal.
6. Decide where you want to move next
Selling a house is challenging, but simultaneously selling and buying a new home is next-level complicated. Whether you’re planning on buying again or renting after your sale, you should factor your next move into your decision to sell.
In a seller’s market, you’ll have an easier time selling your home but most likely a harder time buying a new one. In particularly fast-moving markets, you may want to find your next home (whether you’re renting or purchasing) before you sell your current home.
“People sell their homes, then they’ve got to find something to buy, and it’s hard. Inventory is so low, it’s hard to find that next purchase,” comments Alessi, who sells 86% more single-family homes than the average agent in Las Vegas. “So we do a lot of contingencies, rent-backs, and long escrows to try to make two transactions happen at the same time.”
A rent-back is when you sell your home but continue living in it as a rental (paying rent to the buyer) for a designated period of time. The contingency Alessi refers to is a home sale contingency — an offer condition that you’ll purchase your next home if and when your own home sells.
In summary, determining the best time to sell will largely depend on your local market. If you’re in a seller’s market, chances are any time will be the best time to sell. But if you’re in a buyer’s market, you will need to determine the best times of year to sell and what upgrades buyers are looking for so you can secure a top sale.
Alessi encourages sellers to take advantage of the current seller’s market while it lasts. However, he acknowledges that the best time to sell also depends on your personal circumstances.
“Position yourself to sell that’s gonna be good for your family and good for your real estate portfolio,” Alessi advises.
Sell your house now if…
- You’re in a seller’s market (you probably are!) and want to take advantage of high prices.
- You already know where you’re moving next, whether you’re buying or renting.
- You can’t wait to cash out your equity or lower your costs.
Sell your house in a few months if…
- You want to make a few upgrades before you put your house on the market.
- You’re not in the peak selling season in your area and want to maximize your sale price.
- You’re not sure where you want to move next.
Sell your house in a year if…
- You have significant upgrades you want to make before selling — although these are not as necessary in a seller’s market.
- You’re waiting for interest rates to go down, either to entice buyers or to purchase your next home.
- You need more time to figure out your next move.
Sell your house in a few years if…
- You’re in a buyer’s market and want to wait to make more money on your sale.
- You want to wait for a buyer’s market to purchase a cheaper home.
- You want to save more money for your next home before selling.