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 WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO SELL OR TO BUY REAL ESTATE?

We on The R&R Team have more than 16 years experience listing and selling homes and, on a recurring basis, we are asked when is the best time to sell or to buy real estate. We generally answer this question by defining the real estate market in four seasons with each season having its own general characteristics. We share this information in hopes that it will help clear up some of the prevailing misconceptions that linger among both sellers and buyers as to when is the best time to sell or to buy real estate.  

Best time to sell: The best time to sell is in the spring market. Buyers are generally most active during this period, transaction activity is generally quite robust, time on market is less for property listings and prices generally will appreciate throughout this period. Based on our experience and contrary to popular thinking, the spring market actually starts in mid-January (not in March) when buyers begin to re-awaken their real estate interests and the spring market generally ends with a crescendo of market activity on or before Memorial Day. After this, the summer market starts and buyer activity generally remains good through June each year. Also, contrary to popular opinion, the summer market is not the best time to list or sell a home. During the summer market period, most buyers will have their interests focused on other than real estate, particularly in July and August (we refer to these two months as the “dog-days” of real estate). During the dog-days, buyer activity is lethargic as schools are out of session and buyers are focused on family vacations, spending time at the pool or beach or generally are just beating the heat. Prices generally level out or slightly depreciate in most summer markets. Summer markets generally end with Labor Day when schools go back into session. With this, the fall market begins and we generally see buyer activity picks up. However, the buyers are quite picky during the fall market and are generally shopping for a good deal. Consequently, we will generally see property values depreciate in the fall market period with reduced sales prices on property transactions. The fall market generally ends with the Thanksgiving holiday. Thereafter, we generally define the shorter holiday period from Thanksgiving to mid-January as the winter market when both sellers and buyers activity is lethargic (both sellers and buyers are focused on holiday affairs). Normally, also, available inventory levels decrease with sellers withdrawing their property listings for the holiday period. Likewise, during this winter market, we generally see the greatest amount of property depreciation of the four market seasons with buyers purchasing real estate at bargain prices only if they find a really good deal. 

Best time to buy: The spring market offers the widest selection of property listings to choose from but also represents a period with the most competition for property listings due to robust buyer activity. This is the period where properties will attract multiple contracts and also escalation clauses and waivers of contract contingencies become more common. In spring markets, prices generally go up. The summer market generally has fairly good inventory resulting from spring market carry-over and belated seller listings. The summer market offers good selection opportunities and can be a good time to purchase a property at a good price. The fall market inventory will generally have properties that are hangers-on from the summer market and some fresh listings. The fall market is generally good for being selective and for driving a hard bargain on the sales price and seller concessions. Likewise, the winter market is also a good market for a buyer to bargain for a good deal but the inventory is generally at its lowest during the winter season.

If you have questions as a buyer or seller, please call 703-421-1433 or send us an email today.