There are many life events that can make it time to sell a home. A job change, a child on the way, or even a failing marriage can nudge homeowners to sell relatively unexpectedly.
Still, there are would-be home sellers who can choose when to put their home on the market. Of course, any seller is looking to get the most money they possibly can for the home they are selling and they want to sell it as quickly as possible. So they might wonder: "When is the best time to sell?"
If you are lucky enough to choose when to put your home on the market, here are some things to consider when it comes to timing.
'Tis the season
Traditionally, spring and early summer have been the times when more homes hit the market. There are reasons for this, one of them being that families with children want to be in their new home before a new school year begins. Also, winter weather can make it a little more difficult to show your home in the best light.
But the internet has kind of changed things. More potential buyers begin their home search online, so they are armed with information before ever setting foot inside homes for sale. They're not necessarily traipsing in and out of cars, physically visiting house after house. That means that home searches can start at just about any time of the year. Weather is less a factor.
It is still generally true that there are more buyers out shopping in the spring and summer than in the winter, but if you live in a very competitive market, it might behoove you to put your home up for sale before winter is over, when there's likely less competition among homes for sale.
Markets can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood
The saying "all real estate is local" still holds true, and it's getting more hyper-local than ever. Information you can find online might indicate that there's a lot of buyer activity in your county or even zip code, but in your neighborhood, that might not be the case.
Homebuyer activity and closed sales can literally vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. An online search could tell you that your zip code has a lot of closed transactions, but they might not be exactly where you live. The homes around the corner from you could be the ones selling like hotcakes.
It is probably best to talk to a local real estate professional to determine what kind of demand there really is for homes in your specific area. The higher the demand at any given time, the better your home-selling prospects will be.
Keep an eye on mortgage rates
In the last 12 years or so, interest rates on mortgages have been at or near historic lows. It is not going to last forever, though, and homebuyers tend to become more active when they think that rates could start creeping up.
If you are thinking of selling, it is responsible to keep an eye on the financial markets. If there's a sign that mortgage interest rates are set to rise, it's likely that real estate markets will see an uptick in buyers. The more buyers there are in the market, the better the prospects are for you to sell your home quickly and for top dollar.
The short answer about timing the market is that you can't expect to ever do it perfectly, just like you can't "time" the stock market. But if you're considering selling your home, you'll want to put it on the market at a time when there is less competition from other sellers and more buyers are actively searching for homes. Keeping your finger on the pulse of market indicators and talking to a local real estate professional should help you toward that goal.