When Is The Best Time To Buy and Sell A Home?
Before you read on, remember to trust your instincts. What you’re guessing about the best buy and sell times for your specific situation is probably correct. However, research has revealed some interesting trends about the best times to buy and sell a home in general:
The best time to buy a home
For buyers, the best time to purchase a home is in the late summer and early fall. Why? The competition is less intense (see the seller’s best time below). Looking for houses in the “off-season” may bring some very motivated sellers and unexpected bargains. Many sellers want to get the deal done before winter hits.
The months you will find the most house listings with at least one price reduction: August and September, according to Zillow.
If you’re serious about finding a true bargain, the single best day to buy a home is December 26th. Yep, the day after Christmas. On that day, you may be the only buyer in the market.
After December 26th, the best days of the year to buy a home, according to Attom Data Solutions:
- December 7
- December 4
- December 29
- December 21
- December 1
Yes, December, when sellers are at their most motivated.
The worst time to buy? Most likely: spring and summer. When you read the next section, you’ll know why. Houses tend to sell the fastest at this time of year, and there is not a lot of heated negotiation happening. In fact, Zillow says that you’ll most likely pay a higher premium in June than at any other time of the year.
RealtyTrac found that the worst day of the week to buy a house is Thursday. The research shows that Thursdays offer smaller buyer discounts, averaging 1% smaller than any other day of the week. And the best day? Out of 5.5 million single family home and condo sales over the last 15 years (as of 2015) that closed on a Monday, buyers realized an average discount of 2.3 percent below full estimated market value at the time of sale.
The best time to sell a home
Zillow’s research shows that the best time to sell a house is in the spring. If you want to drill down even further, it’s even better if you list your house during the first half of May (specifically, May 1 to 15). During this time, it’s likely that you will sell your home 18.5 days faster — and for about 1 percent more! This applies mostly to the largest 25 metros in the United States.
We can drill down even deeper! The best day to list your house? Thursday, and as close to 12:01 as possible. Why? Because house hunters are making their plans for the weekend. Their search usually starts on Thursday. Monday may be too soon to list; your online listing may get buried by the week’s newer listings.
Of course, springtime explains itself: that’s good weather for house hunters, but there is also a sense of urgency. Most buyers get started as early as possible, in order to settle into their new home before the new school year would start. Others just want to get a head start on their choices, so that they have a range of good options.
For sellers, the month of May could be the time when a house would look its best: flowers blooming, no leaves to rake or snow to shovel, and the lawn is at its greenest.
Paying attention to buyer behavior may help sellers best understand why May is the magical month:
“[Buyers] are excited and have not experienced the agony of defeat by being outbid once, twice, or three times — at which point deal fatigue sets in,” Bruce Ailion, an Atlanta, GA, agent, tells Trulia. “After missing several deals, buyers begin to feel as if they are settling and then begin to think that it would be better to just wait. As we move into late June and early July, in addition to being weary of looking, buyers make house hunting less of a focus for this year and more of one for next year.”
Not everybody can buy and sell in the spring, but that doesn’t have to be a timing problem. Sometimes, off-season can be a solution for many buyers who don’t operate on a traditional schedule or have no children. In fact, as a seller, you may have an advantage during other seasons, as there may not be as many homes for sale. Also, some buyers may not have the luxury of choosing when they move; they may need a new home due to a new job or job relocation, or because of a change in life status, like marriage, divorce, or more kids.
A note on the pandemic and how it may affect buying and selling timing
The COVID-19 crisis has altered most typical real estate transactions, such as home showings and in-person closings. There are both federal and local restrictions, and it also may depend on the comfort level of both the buyer and seller.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared residential and commercial real estate as essential services (this may be overruled in certain states).
Due to the interest in keeping the economy strong, mortgage interest rates are at historic lows. That’s a good thing for your monthly mortgage payments, especially if you can lock in a low interest rate .
The Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices by the Federal Reserve shows no big change in actual mortgage lending policies (as of the time of the survey, April 2020).
According to a survey by Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index, the share of renters who believe that this is a good time to purchase a home is at its highest level in five years (61%, up from 52% in May).. The same survey reveals that homeowners are most optimistic about selling now (41%, up from 32% in May).
The Bottom Line
Keep in mind that — although real estate is still hot, despite the pandemic — housing is in short supply. This was a problem even before the pandemic hit. This may affect your buying and selling situation.
Another factor that could affect these stats: your location. If you live in a warmer climate, like Florida or California, you may not have to pay attention to the change of seasons and how it will affect your transaction.