A far too common fall question, and a great one to ask.
After all, the most common fallacy in real estate is that the spring market is stronger. But is it? Well, what are we ranking the strength by? The number of sales or the number of buyers?
Sure, the lion’s share of volume may be turned over in the spring, but if you are a seller does that turnover necessarily mean it’s the best time to list?
Look, when deciding to list your house, forget when most of the houses sell. Instead focus on when the most amount of buyers shop with the least amount of choice.
It’s important to understand that there are really only two big buyer cycles in a real estate calendar year: buyers who want to get in before summer, and buyers that want to get in before Christmas. These two time periods probably influence buyers more than anything else except for, “that house finally hitting the market.”
Make no mistake, this is not a complete hard and fast rule. There are always exceptions.
Homes will sell at Christmas this year, and homes will sell in August, or on Thanksgiving. There is a buyer for everything. To really put the odds in your favour as a seller though, you should look to these two seasonal patterns when deciding the right time to list.
For example, if you need a March closing and you list in October or November, the majority of your purchasing audience is already hoping to buy a Christmas tree for your house. Is that everyone? No, but how can you expect to get the most value for your home with a watered-down audience where only a portion of them can accommodate your closing? January and February can be an excellent time to list.
Many don’t realize this, but several buying decisions are made when we spend those special times at home.
The Christmas tree branch is blocking the TV, or the foyer is too crowded for guests arriving, or there isn’t enough parking for your guests. Maybe it’s a combination of that and too much eggnog, but the fist slams down and someone comments, “maybe after the holidays we start looking for a home.”
By the same token, most buyers looking for a property approaching December will eventually lose optimism that they will be able to purchase and be settled before the holidays. With Christmas music and the obligations of the holidays moving to the forefront of everyone’s lives, the supply of new listings slows as we work our way through December. Ultimately, the search is back burnered until the holidays are over. Trust me, I have these conversations with my buyer clients every year.
Think about how many buyers can be ready to go just after New Year’s Eve; you have everyone who put their search on hold only to pick it up again into the new year, plus the new buyers who have made the decision over the holidays to move.
People start to connect or reconnect with Realtors about their needs after life gets normal again, which means a large buyer audience is ready for houses to hit the market in the new year.
This cycle is echoed throughout the summer as well.
Buyers lose hope that their purchase will happen before summer and decide to get out camping one last time, or start to get those back to school to-do lists checked off.
And after Labour Day? Same thing as after New Years.
Buyers who were not able to fulfill their goals before the end of summer pick up where they left off, and new buyers who went for one too many swims at other people’s homes start to focus on their next house – a decision made over the holidays.
These first two cycles of the year, after New Years and post Labour Day can be some of our strongest selling periods. Supply levels are not quite caught up yet and buyers are ready to fulfill their goals.
Now, I must finish by saying if you need to list approaching some of the less vibrant times of year I’ve described above and you don’t have the luxury of timing it better, feel free to throw this article right over your shoulder.
Guelph’s strong market usually offers success to sellers year-round.
This article isn’t meant to discourage, but rather to answer that common question “when is the best time to list”. If the option is there, it’s worth considering.
And if you can’t list at the times above?
So when people ask me “Should I wait until spring to sell”, after 16 years of selling homes I have come to realize it’s the smaller efforts that often have the biggest impact.
Truthfully, I have made my career out of always doing just that. My clients count on it regardless of the season.