Apr 20, 2016

Is Spring the Best Time to Sell my Highland Home?

By Griff Christensen


When is the best time to sell my Highland home? This is a good question and is asked quite often to real estate professionals.  Of course, as with most real estate related questions it depends on the location of your local market in question.  For example, Sundance, a prime mountain retreat location in Utah does very well in the winter months when out-of-staters flock to the Sundance Film Festival and to enjoy Utah's "Greatest Snow on Earth."  In other words, the on- and off-seasons can change—both in timing and overall demand for houses on the market—depending on where you live. If you’re not sure of what it’s like in your area, check with a real estate agent; that’s what they’re there for.


However, in Highland and for most locations conventional wisdom says selling in the prime season, which begins in spring and lasts through summer, is the best way to go.  But what if you wanted to wait until the off-season—is that a savvy move, or would you be leaving money on the table? 

Is it really that much better to sell in the prime season?  Let's examine some of the pro's and con's for the on-season and off-season.

The on-season: Spring and summer

Spring usually kicks off of the busiest home-selling and home-buying season in most areas.  With the warmer weather, more daylight, and the impetus to get a new house in order before the next school calendar begins, buyers are more likely to shop during this time of year, with home buying peaking in June.

Pro: Bigger sales price

More inventory means lower prices, supply and demand dictates sale prices in real estate.  Less inventory equals higher prices.  When less homes are available because they are getting snatched up home pricing tends to trend upward.  Prices are highest in the prime season, when the warming weather and the upcoming new school year drives the most home buyers out shopping.

Pro: Higher valuations

When your house is being valued, the appraiser will look into data for recent comparable homes sold in your neighborhood.  If the only data that exists is the homes sold for cheap during the dead of winter, it could hurt your valuation.  The most recent data generally carries more weight with an appraiser, so with more homes selling in the on-season the comparable homes or "comps" will be more abundant, therefore valuations could be more accurate.

Make sure the appraiser knows and understands your area well.  If a home recently sold for $500,000 but was a complete disaster, while normally homes sell for $1 million plus, you will want an appraiser that understands that.  Also, it is a good idea to be the 2nd or 3rd person in your neighborhood to put your home up for sale to take advantage of those recent comparable sales. 

Either way, the more data the better—and the prime season is when the data is the most robust.

Pro: Homes look sharper, days are longer

There’s no doubt spring is when properties sparkle.  The flowers are in bloom and buyers are out of hibernation. Daylight saving time also gives buyers more time to look at houses, which means your property can be seen by more buyers during the day. That means a bigger chance for more interested buyers.

Con: Buyers are picky

With more houses coming on the market, buyers can afford a bigger wish list. If your home needs repairs, buyers might simply pass. Add in the fact most buyers aren’t shopping under pressure (as they might be during the off-season), this leads to a pool of selective shoppers.

Buyers aren’t as pressured [during the on-season], so they are less likely to take a house that takes $20,000 worth of work an extra time and energy.  I think the time factor plays a big role in necessity.

Pro: Sellers can be picky, too

With more buyers also comes more options for potential new owners.  If things aren't working out with potential buyers, there are always other buyers around the corner.

Pro: Bidding wars

Bidding wars are a nightmare for buyers but a big plus for sellers.  With more buyers you'll see more offers and even multiple offers which generally bring much higher sales prices as an auction atmosphere is created.

They also usually mean buyers are less likely to make repair requests or other demands. Additionally, cash buyers are some of the more aggressive bidders, so you might find a buyer with a fistful of dollars and less hoops to jump through on the path to closing.

The off-season: Fall and winter

If you put your home up for sale in the off-season a lot of times it’s probably because of an extraneous factor—such as a death in the family, layoff, financial hardship, relocation or short sale.  However, you can get buyers looking.

Con: Thrifty shoppers

You will get a different sort of buyer though, buyers who are more sensitive to price, who are intentionally buying at that time of the year.  Investors look at this time to buy property at a discount and take advantage of the off season deals.

You may have to accommodate buyers’ wants, like making certain repairs or eating some closing costs in order to sell your home quickly, if that’s a motivating factor.

Pro: The motivated buyer

While you may have to field lowball offers from thrifty home shoppers, that doesn’t mean the motivated buyer is an endangered species in the off-season.

Off-season buyers are more focused and serious about finding the right home in a short amount of time. In many cases, they are involved in a relocation or facing a situation that is requiring them to move too.

If a buyer is out looking at houses 2 days before Christmas in a foot of snow, you know they are very serious.

Con: Less curb appeal

If you’re selling in winter, especially in snowy or cold areas, your home will have less of that colorful “pop” it might have in spring.  The best curb appeal is in the spring when flowers are blooming lawns are green and pools are sparkling.

To offset the drabness of winter, it's best to keep the driveways and sidewalks as clear as possible, and provide your agent with pictures of your home in the spring for reference.

Con: Lower sales price

When there are fewer buyers out home shopping, it means homes will sell for less.  Back to our supply and demand theory.  Also a contributing factor is the amount of days on market could scare away buyers with, "What's wrong with this home?" buyer thoughts.

Verdict: The on-season is generally better

OK, so conventional wisdom does get it right.  Sellers who have a choice in the matter wait until the prime season starts so they can reap the benefits.

If you’re a Highland seller, this is the optimal time to sell your home. However, consult with your Highland real estate agent because there are many different factors that go into selling a home. They will understand the local market trends and the current market landscape.

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