Many sellers often wonder, When is the best time to sell a house? But that question isn't quite so simple to answer. On the one hand, market data can play a role in telling you how quickly you can expect your home to receive an offer, but on the other, personal circumstances should also play a role in deciding when to make a move.
If you've been weighing the decision of when to sell, this piece is for you. We've laid out the different factors you should consider before making a move. Armed with this knowledge, you should be able to land on the time frame that will be best for you to hit the market.
How long should you expect it to take to sell your house?
When looking at how long it takes to sell a house, there are multiple factors that need to be considered. In order to get a sense of how long the process takes from start to finish, it's important to look at both the length of time you should expect to market a listing before finding a buyer and how long it takes to go to settlement once the home is under contract. Luckily, data exists to provide answers on both of those fronts.
According to the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), listings stayed on the market for a median of three weeks before going under contract. Interestingly, the profile notes that this time frame is identical to the median time on the market for listings in 2018 as well.
Once a home is under contract, the February 2020 Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae, a cloud-based platform provider for the mortgage industry, found that it took an average of 45 days to close on a loan.
If you add those two stretches of time together, you're looking at 21 days on market plus 45 days under contract. In total it should take around 66 days -- or about 9.5 weeks -- to sell your home. However, keep in mind, that every real estate market and every property is different, so your experience may vary.
What is the best time of year to sell a house fast?
If you're looking to sell your home fast, odds are you're going to want to put your home on the market during the spring or summer. After all, there's a reason why you always hear real estate experts talk about the "spring market." On a national scale, as the weather gets nicer, the median days on market drops.
According to five years worth of data collected by RedFin, a national real estate brokerage, the best months to put your home on the market are June and July. That's when the median days on market traditionally hits its lowest point.
That said, it's important to remember that regionality can have an effect on these numbers, especially in areas where there is a harsher climate.
For example, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is known for its long winters, the typical home sold 30 days faster in May 2019 than in February of the same year. However, in Orlando, Florida, where the climate is more temperate, there was only a 17-day difference in the days on market for the same time frame.
Why should you try to put your house on the market during an optimal time?
The truth is that, as the seller, there are other benefits to putting your home on the market at the optimal time besides simply selling faster. For one, you may get more money for your home. To get a full sense of how much you may be able to benefit, it's important to look at the sale-to-list ratio for your area.
A sale-to-list ratio measures how much a buyer actually paid for a property versus how much it was listed for when it was first put on the market. In this case, a sale-to-list ratio of 100% would mean that the property sold for its exact list price, whereas a percentage greater than 100% would indicate that the property sold over asking and a percentage less than 100% indicates that the property sold below its list price.
By using data from Redfin once more, it's easy to see that June and July have the highest sale-to-list ratios nationally. For example, on a national scale, June 2019 saw the highest list-to-sale ratio of the year at 98.7%. Meanwhile, January saw the year's lowest ratio at 97.5%. The data from 2018 shows a similar correlation.
What other factors should you consider when deciding to sell your home?
Of course, not everyone will be able to put their home on the market in either June or July. Sometimes other factors have to come into play as well. In light of that, below are three things you should consider when deciding on the best time for you to sell your home.
Your personal circumstances
Above anything else -- market data included -- you need to take your personal circumstances into account when deciding to make a move. Put simply, you need to think about why you're moving and whether your reasoning creates a timeline you need to follow.
For instance, if you're moving because you'd like more space, you may be able to wait until the peak months to sell your home. However, if you're moving because you've accepted a job in a new city that starts in a few weeks, you're not going to have that luxury.
The local housing market
You'll also want to do some research into how your local housing market is fairing. Ideally, it would be best if you could sell during a seller's market. In a seller's market, inventory is low, leaving many prospective buyers to compete over the same properties. In this type of real estate market, it's not uncommon to receive multiple offers or offers that are above your asking price.
Connect with a real estate agent to see how your local housing market is trending. However, remember, there is a chance that he or she could tell you you're in a buyer's market. In buyer's markets, inventory is plentiful, which means that sellers often have to be willing to negotiate with buyers to help their homes stand out from the crowd.
Your ability to buy a new home
Lastly, it's important to look at your ability to buy a home. Buying a home does, unfortunately, cost some money upfront, so you need to be prepared for that expenditure. First, there's your down payment to consider, which can range anywhere from 3% to upwards of 20% of the home's sale price. Then, there's also closing costs, which typically amount to around an additional 2% to 5% of the sale price.
How do you get your house ready to sell?
Once you've decided when's the best time to sell a house, the next step is getting your home ready to hit the market. Below are a few tips that you can use to make sure your home is in its best shape for showings.
Make any necessary repairs
Many homeowners keep a to-do list of home repairs in the back of their minds, waiting for when they have some free time. However, before you put your home on the market, you'll want to make sure you take care of all those items on your punch list. Not only will the house show better for prospective buyers but your hard work may have an effect on the home's appraised value as well.
Pump up the curb appeal
Once you've tackled any repairs, it's time to focus on adding some additional curb appeal to your property. The exact steps you take may vary according to the season. In spring, for instance, you may focus on adding some new plantings and flowers to the front of your home. In winter, you might focus on adding more lighting to your front walkway.
Depersonalize your decor
Finally, you should take the time to depersonalize your decor. When you're selling your home, your goal should be to make it appeal to as many people as possible. An overabundance of personalized decor -- like family photographs or religious items -- may make it harder for buyers to envision themselves living in the property.
The bottom line
Even though the data shows that June and July are typically the best months to sell your home, the decision of when to put your home on the market is a personal one. You need to go beyond looking at the numbers and take into account your own reasons for selling, as well as your ability to buy a new home, when deciding on the time that works best for you.