Is there a best time of year to sell a home? One of the decisions sellers need to make is when to list their home. However, deciding when to sell may not be an option with significant life events driving the timeline. Other times, sellers may be trying to time the housing market cycles, buying when homes are cheap and trying to sell when they have locked in enough appreciation. But what kind of intelligence can sellers secure regarding the seasonality of home prices, everything else being equal?
There actually turns out be an impact on home prices depending on the month. Whether this data is caused by the winter snow storms in markets with high weather variability, tourists patterns, or even the school year cycle is not necessarily the point. The monthly effects are real and in 2013, Norm Miller published this paper in the Journal of Housing Research on the topic. They found that “at the aggregate level, the monthly price changes vary from an average of 2.78% on the downside to 1.93% on the upside.”
Across the regions surveyed, that means there is an average price difference of 4.71% between what a buyer will pay for a home that closes in June vs January. Keep in mind that offers were agreed to on these properties 30-60 days earlier, so it might be more accurate to say that November and December listings have the highest chance of a below average outcomes on price. April and May listings have the best chance at a high price. However, given the magnitude of the numbers involved, it is far easier for a seller to manage the cost of commissions when they are selecting a broker and to focus on avoiding underpricing if they want to get a good financial outcome, instead of waiting around for the best month of the year.