Real Estate Sellers Tips

Selling: Timing the Sale

While the overall health of the market has the greatest impact on your sale, the date you put it on the market can also be important. The real estate marketing calendar generally has two distinct peaks and valleys created by ebbs and flows of activity in your local real estate market. You can use the predictability of these cycles to your advantage.


Depending on where you live, the longer and stronger of the two annual peak seasons begins somewhere between January and March. Markets in cold weather climates may take a little longer to get started.

February through May is normally the most active selling time for residential real estate. Families with children want to get their purchase or sale out of the way by late spring so moving won't disrupt the kids' schooling for the next academic year. Other people buy or sell early in the year for tax purposes, or to avoid interference with their summer vacation.

The first peak season is usually the best time to put your house on the market. High sale prices can result from spirited buyer competition during this time of year.


In some markets, Memorial Day tends to mark the beginning of the first valley. Sales activity usually slows during June, July, and August. Buyers, sellers, and agents often take summer vacations, which reduces the market activity. Many folks spend their weekends having fun in the sun rather than looking at houses.

This season is still a good time to put your property on the market. Houses might take somewhat longer to sell in the summer due to a slightly lower level of buyer activity, but again, it depends largely on the conditions of the local housing market.


Labor Day usually starts the second peak season. This peak normally rolls through September, October, and into November. People who sell during late autumn tend to be strongly motivated.

Some of these buyers are calendar-year taxpayers who sold houses earlier in the year and want to buy their new home before December 31st so they can pay tax-deductible expenses (such as the loan origination fee, mortgage interest, and property taxes) prior to the end of the year to reduce the impact of federal and state income tax.


The second peak season usually slows again a week or so before Thanksgiving. The exception to this are those few determined sellers and bargain-hunting or relocating buyers who stay in the market until the end of December.

One thing that many sellers do not realize is that November and December actually have the best exposure ratio of any other months of the year. It's true that February and March produce the highest amount of home sales, but when you compare the percentage of sales to the total number of new properties that come onto the market, November and December prove to be extremely good months to sell your home.

A large part of what contributes to this high rate of exposure is that there are fewer homes listed during November and December, resulting in fewer "new on the market" properties. In other words, there is not as much competition for sales, so homes have the potential to receive much more exposure than it would during the spring and summer months when there are significantly more homes on the market.