The best month to sell a house
According to conventional wisdom, the best time to sell is in the spring, which usually runs from March to May. (In some cases, such as Toronto, the market might start heating up as early as February, just ahead of spring.) Homebuyers are done with their taxes, energized by the warmer weather and looking to find a new place to settle before the summer holidays and the new school year. More buyers means bidding wars and higher sale prices.
Most experts in the industry agree that May is the best month to list a house. According to a 2022 report by ATTOM Data Solutions, homes that sell in May average a 12.6% seller premium (based on a decade’s worth of data).
Be mindful, however, that the competition will be stiff, as the number of homes on the market spikes in the spring. With so much activity, your real estate agent should expect to put in overtime when it comes to marketing and staging open houses.
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The worst month to sell a house
If you’re looking to sell your home, it’s largely advised to avoid listing in the dead of winter, when you can expect the lowest premiums.
Conventional wisdom tells us the worst month to sell is January, but anytime between December and February can be a gamble for sellers.
The end of the year brings the chaotic holiday season, when people are financially tapped out and, in some cases, too busy travelling. By January, people are less willing to make big purchases — not to mention the unappealing thought of moving during a frosty Canadian blizzard. The school cycle also plays a role; understandably, many parents don’t want to uproot their kids in the middle of a school year.
Sellers can expect the remaining savvy buyers to play hardball, because they assume sellers must be very motivated if they want to make a deal over the holidays.
With fewer buyers out there, home sales can be sluggish throughout the winter months, although the GTA-based real estate agency and brokerage, The BREL Team, notes there are some advantages to selling during an off-peak month.
“[There’s] less competition from the neighbours and motivated off-season buyers can be an effective strategy for a quick sale at market value prices,” they write.
What about other options?
The housing market starts to experience a bit of a slow-down starting in August, as people go away on vacation before the start of the school year. The market picks back up again briefly in autumn, as people look to move before the weather changes and snow starts to fall.
While May is still typically the best month to sell, that won't always be true. According to a 2023 study from the real estate site Zolo, homeowners in certain regions will reap greater benefits by selling in the fall. In North Vancouver, for example, selling a house in November earned sellers, on average, $15,000 to $150,000 more.
And not all sellers need to hibernate in winter. Since many homeowners assume they shouldn't bother trying to sell until spring, people who do put their houses on the market have less competition for buyers' attention.
Some of these buyers are very determined. These are people who, for whatever reason, may need to move NOW. If you think you've got a winning property and are willing to stand firm in the face of tight-fisted winter shoppers, you could land an unexpectedly good deal from a desperate buyer.
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