Choosing the best time to sell a home can be a complex decision and may depend on multiple personal and economic factors.
Initially, the best time to sell is when you are ready, or when you must. When you have outgrown the space in your current home, or you prefer to trade down to something smaller, it may be a good time to sell. Other personal changes, such as a change in marital status or job, can necessitate a move.
Market conditions play a key role when timing a home sale. Your chances of getting top dollar for your home increase during a seller's market, when demand outweighs supply, as opposed to a buyer's market, when home prices typically lower. Local and national economic factors also may dictate the ideal time to sell. For instance, if a major employer in your area is laying off workers, it may not be a good time to put your home up for sale. People will be cautious about buying when the future seems volatile.
Seasonal conditions may also impact the best time to sell. Most agents agree the best time of year to sell is the spring. During this season, the largest number of potential buyers hit the market and your home is likely to sell faster and at a higher price. Generally, sales begin to pick up as early as February and start to taper in July, which is the slowest month for real estate transactions.
When you have decided that the time is right to sell, the first step in preparing for the sale of a home is finding out its worth. This can be done by contacting a real estate agent for a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on the recent selling price of similar neighborhood properties. A certified appraiser can also provide an initial appraisal of your home.
Once the value of the home has been determined, a seller should concentrate on the home's appearance. Working to ensure your home is in the best condition possible for showing to prospective buyers will position you to receive top dollar. This includes repairing or improving any trouble spots that could deter a buyer, such as squeaky doors, a leaky roof, dirty carpet and walls, and broken windows.
The first impression that potential buyers form of your property as they drive or walk up should not be underestimated. The "curb appeal" of your home is extremely important. You can create a positive first impression by making sure the lawn is pristine - the grass cut, debris removed, garden beds free of weeds, and hedges trimmed.
However, the trick is not to overspend on pre-sale repairs and fix-ups. This is especially important if there are few homes on the market but many buyers competing for them. On the other hand, making such repairs may be the key to selling your home in a down market.