“What is the best time of year to buy or sell real estate?”

Ryan Coffey
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Short answer:
It doesn’t make that huge of a difference for the most part. It is more important that you are ready both financially and situationally than what time of year you buy or sell.

Long answer:

There is a common belief that spring is the time to do it. I’m not really sure where this idea came from but I imagine it probably has something to do with the fact that spring is the busiest time of year. There are more listings and more sales. I suppose people think that they will have more to choose from but let’s not forget that there are more Buyers out there to compete with for the properties as well.

I have long held the belief that the real estate market picks up for the year once we get our first taste weather. There are other theories and observations out there (like timing the move to be during the kids summer break from school)  but the one that seems to always stand out for me is something I can predict by watching the weather. Every year, once we get our first week or two of happy weather, people seem to get optimistic about life and want to make a positive change for themselves. I start getting more calls from people who are wanting to follow through with buying or selling. After discussing this observation with a car salesman or two I have been told the same pattern is true for the other big ticket item, cars.

Realtors don’t do much to stop people from thinking that this is the best time to buy or sell. I’ll be generous and assume it’s because there are so many other bigger, more important misconceptions to clear up.  I have, however, heard quite a few Realtors use talk of the spring market as a motivator to get Sellers ready to sell. I think this is a tactic that uses an existing belief to motivate people into doing something now rather than putting it off. You see, Realtors know that when people put things off it so often turns not doing it at all or worse yet, getting snagged by a different Realtor.

But does any of this translate into better prices for Buyers or Sellers? Not as far as I can tell. It’s really just a pleasant time of year to do it.

I see no real downside to buying or selling in the spring except that maybe the Realtors are more strapped for time and you may not get quite as much personal attention as you might at another time of year.

Summer is usually a little more quiet than spring as most people are on the beach and later on the the summer many people are off on vacation. Somewhat fewer homes on the market but less Buyers too. No major advantage or disadvantage here either. Some people might say that it’s more difficult because a lot of people are on vacation and once in a blue moon I get a curve ball because someone who needs to sign something is away for a week or two but to date I’ve always been able to hold deals together when that happens.

Fall is usually a bit busier than the summer but not as busy as the spring.

Sometime in November things usually slow right down as most people are focusing on the holidays at this point. Realtors are likely to take some time off at this time of year. Some Buyers follow the line of logic that any property that is on the market during the holidays must have some serious (desperate) Sellers so they are expecting to find something good for cheap. A Seller might leave it up anyway just to attract such people knowing that there will in fact be fewer people looking at the property. Every strategy has a counter strategy and this is just one. If I were selling, unless the property is vacant I’d be likely to leave it until February as the activity is pretty low and it’s a lot of work keeping your home showing ready, for not that many showings.

So, back to my initial statement. Time your move around your life and your finances first as these will make a bigger difference than the other factors. There are many ins and outs to real estate and having the guidance of a seasoned pro helps you navigate the seas of information that you find online, via word of mouth or on the news.


Ryan Coffey