Home Sellers: Spring is Great, But Listing in Winter Pays Off, Too
Written by Alex Starace on November 21, 2016
What time of year is most advantageous for sellers to put their home on the market?
Redfin analyzed more than 7 million home sales over the past four years and divided the data into seasons, according to when the homes were first listed. We evaluated which season was best for listing a home according to two of the most common goals for sellers: Selling for more than the list price and going under contract within 30 days.
As conventional wisdom would predict, spring was the best time to list a home, but just barely. Spring offered the highest likelihood of selling above list price and of selling within 30 days, but winter, the supposed slow season for real estate, was a close second.
Among spring listings, 18.7 percent of homes fetched above asking, with winter listings not far behind at 17.5 percent. While 48.0 percent of homes listed in spring sold within 30 days, 46.2 percent of homes in winter did the same.
While winter can get a bad rap, it’s not a bad time to list a home. “You may have fewer people looking to buy, but those who are looking are serious,” said Michelle Leader, a Redfin real estate agent in Oklahoma City. “Buyers that time of year often need to move, so they’re much less likely to make a lowball offer and they’ll often want to close quickly — two things that can make the sale much smoother.”
The other benefit of listing in the winter is less competition from other sellers. While spring can see a rush of homes coming on the market, homes that list in the winter are much more likely to stand out, said Leader.
Among homes listed in summer and fall, the key goals of selling quickly and for above list price were achieved notably less often. Forty-one percent of autumn listings sold in 30 days or less, and just 14.7 percent sold above list price.
“Autumn is a tricky time,” said Chicago Redfin real estate agent Michael Linden. “Buyers with kids often want to get settled in their new home before the school year starts, so they’ve already closed in spring or summer. And right after you list, the holiday season begins, which can delay the time it takes to close, and causes many buyers to pause their search. The last quarter of the year is just not an ideal time to put a home on the market, particularly if you want full price or a quick closing.”
But, as the numbers indicate, listing at the start of the new year can work to a seller’s advantage. Typically, sellers assume snow and inclement weather in January and February are major barriers to winter home shopping. However, while winter storms can cause a delay or two, most cities known for snow also have effective plowing systems and residents who are comfortable tromping around in winter boots.
In fact, weather seems to have little to do with the seasonality. When broken down by metro, winter and spring maintained their top spots consistently, even across markets with weather as varied as Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta.
Redfin examined more than 7 million homes listed across 23 metro areas from 2012 through August 2016 to see how many of them went under contract within 30 days and how often they sold for more than their list price. We then grouped the performance of each listing by the season that the home was first listed on the market. We used the astronomical seasons (Winter: Dec. 21 – Mar. 20; Spring: Mar. 21 – June 20; Summer: June 21 – Sept 21; Autumn: Sept 21 – Dec. 20).