As we slip into autumn, many homeowners take their homes off the market, believing that their home will not sell in the fall or winter. While it is true that selling heats up in spring and early summer, people buy homes every day of the year.
Historically, the selling cycle followed a general pattern of picking up in the spring and summer for buyers with young families, tapering off in late summer and picking up again in the fall. While colder months—particularly November and December—slowed down due to the holidays.
New studies show, however, that on average, homes listed between Halloween and New Year’s Day are more likely to sell, often sell faster and even fetch closer to the asking price. Typically, because there are fewer houses on the market, the competition for homes that are listed increases.
Shrewd buyers often seek bargains during these months, and buyers without children don’t set their buying guidelines based on the school year. The truth is that just as sellers’ situations differ (job change, young family moving for school, retiring), buyers’ situations range from new employment or business relocation to seeking a second home to celebrate holidays. Sellers that keep their homes on the market into the fall season significantly increase their chances of selling.
Reasons for off-season home sales include:
- Less competition: Buyers believe the old “spring only” selling myth too. They may believe that in the fall and winter they won’t face the competition for a prized home that results in bidding wars and ultimately paying higher prices.
- Personal motivation: People move when they need to, so a new job in a new town or a buyer finally saving up the last of their downpayment doesn’t depend on a specific time of year.
- Age and situation: S. Census statistics show that older folk and those without children tend to move in the fall and winter months. In fact, by percentage of population movement, October rates higher (10.2%) than May (7.5%) and is nearly equal to both July (11.2%) and September (11.5%).
- Internet shopping: Most buyers shop online first. That means they can shop year ’round, and all hours of the day or night. They can see images of your home online in all seasons, so they have a realistic expectation what your home looks like seasonally.
Before putting your home on the market
Assess your needs before listing your home. Do you need to relocate immediately? Do you have school-aged children you need to get into a new school system at the start of the school year? With more flexible relocation dates, you can adjust your selling period to the season that best reflects your home’s qualities.
Beach, mountain or lake homes may sell best in the early spring and summer months so that buyers can enjoy them in their first year, but if they can be equally enjoyed in fall and winter, play up those qualities. A mountain home near a ski resort may sell well in the fall and early winter, while a lake home in a colder climate will appeal to enthusiasts of other winter sports such as snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Beach homes may be more attractive to snowbirds as fall and winter approach.
No matter when you need to sell, your real estate professional can guide you in the best ways to market your home for any season.