The decision on whether or not to sell your beloved home is already a difficult thing to process. But knowing and understanding when to sell — it’s another critical point that can affect your decision and would-be profit, especially when the housing market feels unpredictable.
Aside from the housing market having a significant impact on the sale of your home, it’s also important to evaluate your situation and reasons for selling. To provide you with some guidance, we’ve laid out six factors that you should consider before putting your house on the market.
In general, the spring home-buying season (April to June) is considered the best time to sell a house. Homes sold in May, in particular, net a 12.8 percent seller premium (the amount above the home’s market value), based on ATTOM’s 2023 analysis of single-family home and condo sales over the past 10 years.
However, that’s not always the case. The reality is that every market has a peak selling season—the time of year when most buyers are looking for houses. This depends on many factors, including buyer demographics, weather, local events, etc.
Summer typically brings out families who are looking to move while their kids are out of school. But in areas near ski resorts, for example, the winter season tends to bring out a bigger pool of buyers than during warmer weather. The same can be said in warmer areas, where the fall is often a hotter market for buyers. Winter, on the other hand, is also a popular time for people relocating for jobs, typically during January and February.
When you list in spring and summer, you have to be ready to compete with several other homes. Pricing your home aggressively and marketing your home properly during these times is critical to attract buyers. On the contrary, selling during the slower seasons where there’s less inventory means there’s less competition on the market.
In addition to seasonality, the strength of the U.S. housing market as a whole also plays a role in home prices. A home’s value generally increases when the economy is strong. Your best bet for gathering adequate information and getting a thorough understanding of the national housing market is to talk to a knowledgeable real estate professional. They’re a valuable resource if you want to get a sense of how the local market is faring overall, and whether selling your home can be more profitable in current market conditions.
Interest rates are another critical factor to consider when deciding when to sell your home. Historically, people are more inclined to buy homes when mortgage rates are lower since they can afford a larger mortgage than they would with higher interest rates. The lower the interest rate, the more purchasing power buyers have.
If you’re a prospective seller this year, it might be wise to monitor the mortgage market as today’s higher rates will likely play a role in your decision. However, depending on your location, this may or may not be a deal-breaker for you.
Your home’s equity is the difference between the value of your home and what you owe on it in liens, such as a mortgage. This is the number that tells you if you’ll be able to make a profit, so it’s important to know this before listing your house for sale. If you’ve earned a significant amount of home equity, you can cash out on this and sell. But if you owe more than you can get for the house, consider staying put and paying down your mortgage a little more before selling.
Ensuring a great first impression is vital to selling quickly and for top dollar, especially if you’re putting your home on the market during peak selling season. Aside from maintaining a stellar curb appeal, you must also take the time to make repairs and take care of things such as leaks and/or water damage, mold problems, pest infestations, roofing problems, and any structural issues that could pose safety hazards, among others.
Consulting with a knowledgeable real estate agent will also help you figure out which improvement projects may benefit your home and bring a decent return on your investment. If you’re in a hurry to sell and don’t have time to make improvements, you always have the option to sell your home “as-is”. Just keep in mind that this option comes hand-in-hand with a price reduction.
Last but not least, your situation and objectives should be taken into account. What’s your main motivation behind wanting to sell your home? Some homeowners want to get their houses sold as quickly as possible, while others prioritize getting the best sale price possible out of their biggest investment. Here are some circumstances where it might make more sense to sell than to wait:
You need to downsize – This may be a necessity, especially for older homeowners and empty nesters, either for financial or health and mobility reasons. If the maintenance and upkeep of your home are already becoming difficult, selling may be for the best.
You need to upsize – Your family is growing, or maybe an elderly relative is coming to live with you for an indefinite time. Your need to have a bigger home can play a role in your decision to sell as soon as possible.
You need to relocate because of a new job – If this is your reason, it may not be worth waiting until your area’s peak selling season or until your home is in perfect shape.
You’ve inherited a property – Getting rid of a second home might be easier since you’re also not trying to buy.
So, are you ready to move on? Although it’s advisable to live in your home for at least ten years, at the end of the day, there’s no better time to sell your home than whenever it makes the most sense for you. Connect with a trusted real estate agent who will be your partner in this journey, help you get through the emotional process and treat it as a business transaction, and will net you a higher profit for your most valuable investment.