The best & worst months to sell your home


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June has been widely recognized as the best month to sell a house and get the highest price premiums. But with today’s low-interest-rate environment and the uncertainty of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the best time of year to sell a house may extend past the middle of summer.

Your local housing market can be unpredictable, though, and the right time to sell is ultimately dependent on area conditions, buyer demand and your own financial goals and timeline.

When is the best month to sell a house?

The best month to sell a house is June, though May is a close second, according to a May 2020 report from real estate research firm ATTOM Data Solutions. The analysis is based on aggregated nationwide data.

ATTOM analyzed home sales data from 2011 to 2019 and found that homeowners who sell in June pocket more money with the highest seller premiums. The median home value was $187,000 during that month, while the median sales price was $205,000 – translating to a 9.6% price premium. When selling during the month of May, the premium is slightly lower at 8.3%.

Five days in June provide the highest seller premiums, ATTOM found. Those dates are:

  • June 22: 10.5%
  • June 21: 10.5%
  • June 29: 10.5%
  • June 20: 10.3%
  • June 15: 10.2%

How the coronavirus pandemic is shaking things up

As the country continues to adjust to life in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, home sellers may not have to rush to put their homes on the market in May or June.

“The peak moved to July, and then right now for the months of August, September [and] October, we’re still seeing very strong sales,” said Gay Cororaton, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The latest available data from NAR show that existing-home sales jumped nearly 27% year over year from October 2019 to October 2020, and have seen growth for five consecutive months. Additionally, homes sold in October were on the market for less than one month — 21 days, down from 36 days over the same period in 2019.

“If you [list] your home, it’s going to be snapped up quickly,” Cororaton said.

When is the worst month to sell a house?

The worst month to sell a house is December. Generally speaking, home sellers earn the lowest premium during this month, making it the best time for homebuyers to jump into the market.

Sellers can expect to realize just a 1.5% price premium on average during the month of December, according to a separate November 2020 report from ATTOM Data Solutions.

December’s median home value came in at $201,100, while the median sales price was $204,000.

However, given today’s current environment of historically low mortgage rates and limited housing supply, there may not really be a bad time to sell your home, said Donnell Williams, president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.

Other factors to consider when deciding on a home sale

It can be helpful to use local market data to decide when to sell your home, but choosing a time to sell ultimately depends on your financial goals and reasons for selling.

For example, if you care about getting the highest possible price, consider listing your home for sale during the peak of your local homebuying season. If you want to move before a new school year starts, you may need to list your home earlier in the spring to ensure you can close on your current home and find a new one in time.

Your first order of business, though? Figuring out your next move before selling your current home.

“Are you going somewhere cheaper? Are you able to afford the house? Are you downsizing? Are you trying to upgrade, and what are you upgrading to?” Williams said.

Once you have the logistics nailed down, a real estate agent who’s an expert in your local housing market can help you pinpoint the best time to sell a house.

5 tips to get your home sold

Remember the following key tips when you’ve decided it’s time to sell your home.

  1. Price it right from the start. Overpricing your house from the get-go could turn off potential buyers. Your real estate agent will do a competitive market analysis to see what comparable homes in your neighborhood have sold for, then provide their opinion of an asking price. An overpriced home — especially one that hasn’t been updated — might linger on the market longer than necessary.
  2. Don’t put your home on the market too early. If your home has been listed for sale for a while before buyer competition picks up, it may be overlooked and harder to sell.
  3. Prepare for the many costs of selling. The typical cost to sell a house can add up to more than $20,000. You’ll need to pay off your remaining mortgage balance, plus cover real estate commission fees, transfer taxes and other costs. Depending on whether you’re a motivated seller, you may also offer to pay some or all of the homebuyer’s closing costs.
  4. Address any outstanding property liens. Consider paying for a title search before putting your house on the market. That way, you can take care of any liens, such as past-due property tax or homeowners association bills, that could delay the home-selling process.
  5. Make a great first impression. Declutter your rooms, finish any outstanding home improvement projects, add fresh paint and clean your carpets and floors. Don’t forget to spruce up your home’s landscaping and curb appeal. Finally, consider staging your home to help prospective buyers see themselves living in your space.

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Image Credit: Deposit Photos.