5 Tips for Finding the Right Time to List Your Home for Sale

Knowing when to list your home for the biggest, fastest payoff

“There is no perfect time to list a home for sale,” says Mark Strüb of Strüb Residential in Austin, Texas. Indeed, personal factors will likely weigh much heavier in your schedule than market forces, and the perfect buyer can come along at any time. Still, for sellers who have the luxury of a flexible calendar, there are a number of ways to take advantage of timing to maximize the speed and price of a sale.

Strüb recommends sellers starts by working closely with their broker to determine the best time to sell. “A good broker will guide you to success at any time of year by analyzing supply, demand and your home’s unique features, then helping you pick the perfect moment to list.” When working with your broker to determine a time to list, here are five of the most important factors to consider.

1. Season

Conventional wisdom holds that spring is the best season to list a home for sale. That makes sense for a number of reasons. Homes look their best in the spring, with sunlight streaming through windows and green lawns welcoming potential buyers. Spring is also when, nationally, the market tends to tick upward and more buyers start looking.

But some data suggests that, at least in some markets, spring is not the prime sellers season that it often gets credit for. In San Francisco, summer is just as competitive as spring, in San Diego, November sees the highest sale prices, and Columbus, Ohio maintains a fairly even distribution throughout the year. Those numbers also change each year, so it’s important to talk with your broker and make sure that you understand the current data in your market.

2. Time to negotiate

Listing your house as early as possible has a couple of distinct advantages. Most realtors recommend decreasing a home’s asking price by roughly three percent every three to four months. Without the pressure to sell, a seller can maintain their initial asking price for much longer while they wait for an interested buyer. That cushion likewise provides leverage for negotiation with potential buyers. Some buyers may even be willing to spend more for a specific settlement date.

3. Time to renovate

Sellers with no looming deadline to sell can also take advantage of their time by waiting to list their home, allowing them time to make investments that can dramatically increase the value of the home. Hire an inspector before listing your home to find out what could pose an issue down the line, and get those things in order. If you can afford it—and waiting a few months or a year to sell may help—consider cosmetic upgrades as well. A new kitchen backsplash or retiled bathroom can go a long way toward increasing the final sale price of your home.

4. Market strength

Even those of us with little interest in real estate have seen over the past decade just how dramatically the housing market can swing in one direction or the other. Take a close look at the trends, and don’t get greedy waiting for a seller’s market to keep improving. Bubbles burst, so take advantage of a strong market when you can.

5. Picking a day

Once you are ready to sell your home, you can get fairly granular about exactly when to list. Most brokers will recommend listing your home immediately after submitting your mortgage payment for that month. That way, if your home sells within the next three weeks, you won’t be on the hook for the next payment. Some brokers will even advise listing on certain days of the week to maximize exposure. Fridays are typically seen as the best days to post a listing because buyers are looking for homes to visit over the weekend, but some forums have higher traffic on other days of the week. Research the sites where your listing will post, and pick a day that takes advantage of its traffic and trends.