When is the Best Time to Sell my House?

If you're planning to sell your home, you've probably been told by quite a few friends that Spring is the best time to sell a property. You may have even heard that from agents. But is that really true? Does that mean you're disadvantaged if your house goes on the market at another time of year?

One way of looking at it is to assess when most property transactions take place. According to analysis by Corelogic, March is the single month with the most home sale completions, followed by May. That means that the marketing of those properties will have taken place some months before—if a sale is completed in March, the property could have gone on the market in November or December.

But in fact, when you look in more detail at the Corelogic research, it appears that transaction volume doesn't change significantly throughout the year. Nor do prices - even though there's a small winter effect, it adds just 1% to the price. (Admittedly, on the average house that could be a few thousand more in the bank.)

It seems, then, that though there are more listings in spring, and more visitors, that doesn't result in more sales or higher prices.

However, the effect is more complex than the headline figures show, according to a team from Swinburne University. Their study showed that different cities have different dynamics. In Sydney, it's July that sees the highest prices being achieved for houses, and June for units. In Melbourne, if you want the best price you need your sale to complete in May. Only in Brisbane and Adelaide will you get the best prices in spring. That means you're better off listening to an agent who really understands your local market, and not blindly trusting folk wisdom.

Meanwhile, if you're taking the auction route, auction streaming group Gavl says more bids are placed on properties that come to auction in March, April and May.

Selling in spring is good in one way, because you'll get higher attendance at Open Houses, and there's a bit more excitement about property both in the media and among potential buyers. However, more houses will be coming on the market, which means that you'll be selling in a competitive market, with lots of other listings fighting for buyers' attention. You may get a lot of viewings but still not land that all-important offer.

Taking a contrarian view, if you put your house on the market in a traditionally quieter period, like mid-January into February, you won't have to share the market with so many other properties. And with fewer properties to choose from, more buyers will be heading for your place–and they'll be more likely to put in an offer.

You might think December through to January is a lousy time to sell. The whole nation is at the beach. Your agent is probably at the beach. Your lawyer is firing up the barbie. No one is buying houses. And you're probably right–unless you have a beach house, or a home in a tourist hotspot. If so, this could be just the right time to sell!

So again, let's revisit the folk wisdom of "sell in spring", and see how it applies to different properties or locations. If you have a beach home, or a property with a pool and lovely garden that looks its best in bright sunshine, don't sell it in winter; sell it at the right time to maximise its appeal. If you have a home that's more cozy and cocoon-like, with limited outside space, selling in winter might be a better choice.

Autumn can be a good time to sell, as well, though you'll want to avoid the Easter holiday weekend when you're planning the start of your marketing campaign.

The idea of "sell in spring" also misses out several vital considerations for any vendor. First of all, you need to think about the overall direction of the property market. If your local market is headed up or sideways, it costs you nothing to hang on for another six months and time your sale to perfection. You have all the time it takes to finesse your marketing. But if you live in a market where property prices are sliding, you might want to market the property as quickly as possible. (That might also lead you to consider the auction route rather than a private sale.)

Secondly, you need to think about how much time it will take you to get the property into ti-top condition. Starting to market your home without having the time to make necessary repairs or refurbishments, or to style it for sale, could mean you get a lower price than you'd been hoping for, even if you're selling at what would otherwise be the best time. Don't get pushed into putting your home on the market before you're properly ready.

And thirdly, momentum is important. A house that has just come on the market will get more interest than one that's been on the market for a while. Your best chance to sell is in the first few weeks of marketing. So be sure that, whatever time of year you choose to market your property, you really commit to it and give it everything you've got. The average time from going on the market to actually selling is between 66 and 77 days. That doesn't give you a whole lot of time, so make the most of it.

Of course, if you've got a job offer on the other side of the country, or even abroad, and you need to move quickly, this is all irrelevant to you. One vendor, a senior banker who had quit his post to work in Singapore, worked out his options and told his agent "Every month I'm not working is $10,000 lost. If you want me to wait three months, you need to show me that I'll make $30,000 more by doing it."

The best time to sell, after all, is when you need to!


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