buying a house

What’s the best time of year to buy or sell a house?

Bethany Ramos First-Time Homebuyer, Getting Prequalified, Home Buying, Mortgage Rates

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These are the questions homebuyers and sellers are asking: Is now really the best time to act? Or should I wait until next month or even next year?

While housing market variables do come into play, there are still clear-cut answers to your questions.

What’s the best time of year to buy a house?

Just like travel deals, you’ve probably observed that fluctuations in housing prices and mortgage rates occur at certain times of the year. It’s usually cheaper to take a Mexico vacation in the fall compared to summer break. Similarly, non-peak seasons are considered better for buying a home because, just like vacationing, that’s when competition begins to thin.

The numbers show that:
  • The optimal time of year to purchase a house is usually early fall.
  • Data from realtor.com confirms this, noting that the best time to buy a house is the first week in October; buying during this sweet spot could save you $10,000 compared to peak summer prices.
  • ATTOM Data has similar findings, showing that closing on a house in October will get you the best deal (meaning, you have to start house-hunting in September); November and December come in close second.
  • Buying off-season, in January or February, is also when mortgage rates are likely to be lower.

Are you better off waiting for a “prime” buying window? Meeting with a local loan officer, who can assess your financial picture and tell you how much house you can afford, is the way to find out.

Waiting, for many buyers, may not be the smartest move. It’s not uncommon to see homebuyers holding off to save to afford a better house. Often, buyers have misconceptions about higher down payment requirements or want to wait for a dream home. In doing this, the market appreciation typically outpaces how much they can save. Then, a dream home becomes even more unaffordable.

There’s a possible solution. For buyers who are on the fence or worried about how much they can afford, it’s important to prequalify and look at the numbers. Rates are beginning to rise from some of their lowest levels, making it more expensive to borrow. But purchasing a starter condo or smaller house now could allow you to enter the market as opposed to waiting and getting priced out.

What’s the best time of year to sell a house?

While homebuyers are looking for seasonal slowdowns to net a great deal, sellers are seeking buyer competition. Spring is the time of year when many sellers begin to list, leading up to summer’s peak season. Note that some sellers prefer to keep their homes on the market in fall and winter, when fewer listings are available, to potentially gain an advantage.

The numbers show that:
  • The optimal time of year to sell a house usually falls in the spring.
  • ATTOM Data finds that the top five days to sell a home all fall in May: May 16, 19, 20, 23, and 27.
  • Data from realtor.com supports selling in the same timeframe — the third week in April; this is when you might sell eight days faster and at a 10.4 percent higher price.
  • If you want to sell for the most profit, list your home on a Wednesday, Redfin confirms. List on a Thursday, and you’re likely to sell the fastest.

Overall, you’ll probably make the most profit as a seller when listing from spring to summer. The months that seller premiums are lowest tend to span from fall to winter. But, as mentioned, some sellers prefer to list off-season in these months when there’s much less competition. States with warmer climates like Arizona and California may not see the same “off-season.”

There is, of course, a catch. The current state of the housing market supports selling any time of year. Over the past two years, there’s been a boom in buyer demand coupled with a severe housing inventory shortage. Sellers who list now might receive nearly four offers and sell in only 19 days. As many as 46 percent of these offers may also bid above asking price.

It helps to be in the know about current rates and seasonal shifts. But because of the record-low mortgage rates brought on by the pandemic, the past few years in the housing market have been anything but typical. If you’re thinking about selling, the time is right. Housing inventory recently hit its lowest point in more than a century. So, the question is not when your house will sell — but how fast.

Is it time to make your move?

Whether you’re buying or selling, take the first and most important step that will stack the odds in your favor. Reach out to a local loan officer and prequalify.

For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.

Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

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