There’s a season for everything — including real estate. When my wife and I sold our first home in 2000, we lucked out and decided to list our home in June. Our first child was 6 months old and we were ready for a bigger home, but had no idea that summer was one of the best seasons to sell due to summer vacation and parents looking to upgrade and relocate in between school years.
If you’re gearing up to list your home for sale, you should connect with your agent to discuss your home sale action plan. But there are also a number of calendar-based factors you should be just as thoughtful about as you put together your plan for selling.
Here are five calendars that should be on every home seller’s radar.
1. The academic calendar
Families with school-age children often find it less disruptive to house-hunt in late spring/early summer with the aim of moving in before school starts. Of course, we all know what they say about the best-laid plans, so by no means should you let this stop you from listing your home at another time of year.
Demand for homes with convenient proximity to strong schools can increase during the summer school break and around other times of year when kids are not in school. When my wife and I sold our first, home, we did not have school age children, but knew this was the best time to sell. Our son was only 18 months old, but we knew summer was a critical period for our family/child oriented neighborhood. We listed our home in May and closed in June, 2000.
2. The tax calendar
I cannot count the number of relatively unmotivated looky-loo buyers I’ve worked with over the years who became suddenly motivated from a massive, looming tax bill. For instance, many new professionals will seek to close escrow on homes between the time they graduate and the end of that same year, in an effort to deduct their closing costs and mortgage interest from their new large incomes and avoid a big tax bill the following April. Similarly, just after tax time in April, a flood of newly motivated buyers come into the market, advised by their CPAs that the mortgage interest deduction is their best bet for not having to write as big a check to the IRS next year.
Fortunately for sellers, more buyers and more motivation means more demand and can translate into a faster sale at a higher price than at other times of the year.
3. The weather calendar
Many sellers who live in cold-weather climates are aware that wintry conditions can dramatically cut down the numbers of buyers who are out viewing properties. This is why buyer searches for homes peak in January in warm-weather states like California, Hawaii, and Florida — and not until after the spring thaw in the Midwest, the South, the Northeast, and most of the West.
The combination of what’s happening with the weather and the specific features of your home can interact to impact your home’s prospects for sale — and its ultimate sale price. Behavioral economics researchers have found that homes with swimming pools (and water slides, perhaps?) sell for more in the summertime than they do in winter.
“When it is sweltering outside, a swimming pool just looks attractive. There’s an emotional connection because it reminds us of fun times we have in the summer,” says Jaren Pope, assistant professor of economics at Brigham Young University.
So if it’s summer and you’re selling a home with ski slope access, you might want to paint the picture of a cozy, fun-filled winter by staging the place with ski gear and other items that help prospective buyers visualize how much fun they’ll have when winter comes. And vice versa: If it’s winter and you’re selling a house with a pool, consider making sure it is steamy and heated, if it has those features. Stage it with lounges, towels, lights — anything that showcases the pool to offset a cold-weather buyer’s psychological tendency to discount the appeal of a pool in the winter.
4. The holiday calendar
During the holidays, many buyers simply prefer to spend their downtime celebrating with family and friends versus. house hunting, especially in locales where the winters are wet or cold. Nationwide, December is the slowest month of the year for home searches, and November is the second-slowest.
Does this mean the holidays are a bad time to have your house on the market? Not necessarily. Some homes show beautifully when all lit up and tastefully dressed up for the holidays. And the truth is that there is a hardy contingent of buyers motivated to close by year’s end for tax purposes, every year in every market. While buyers might be fewer in number, those who will brave rain, sleet, and snow and forgo holiday parties to house-hunt can be some of the most motivated buyers of all.
5. The Gregorian calendar
We’re talking about the regular old January-through-December calendar here.
Home buying tends to be a popular resolution among those with money on their minds at the beginning of the year — and also among people looking forward to career promotions, developing their love and family relationships, or relocating to a new hometown. Make sure your home is well-represented on sites like Trulia at the beginning of the year, when these life- and financial-change visionaries start searching for their next nests.