If you’re thinking Spring or Summer is the ideal time to put your house on the market, you’re certainly not the only one. Real estate information Zillow reports home sellers make the most money and sell fastest in the first two weeks of May, with July and June, respectively, serving as the next best months to list your home. While the market may be as warm as the weather this time of year, there are still some key steps you shouldn’t skip – and details you should know about – before selling your property in Spring and Summer.
There are more buyers
The change of seasons naturally encourages people to start thinking about options to move to a new home, and for homebuyers who are financially ready, that’s certainly the case. Many buyers may also be excited to move forward with a home purchase knowing that mortgage interest rates aren’t expected to climb particularly high in the near future. In March, the Federal Reserve confirmed its plans to not increase interest rates from the current 2.5% for the remainder of 2019. While mortgage rates vary based on the individual financial history and current market conditions, the Fed’s decision helps many first-time homebuyers start shopping for a home confidently.
This year won't be the same as last year
The Spring and Summer months tend to be the most active for home sales, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always see home prices climb year over year. While some markets are still as hot as ever, places like the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have slowed significantly, with home values even dropping slightly compared to recent years when houses couldn’t stay on the market more than a couple days. Even if you live in a more moderate housing market, expect a slower pace than previous years.
Your buyer may be on a specific timeline
Spring and summer are ideal for many buyers not just because the weather’s nice, but also because the timing gets them moved before fall.. That said, if your house goes under contract in early May, the buyer may ask for a delay in closing or move-in until the school year finishes or his current home has sold. Alternatively, a buyer later in summer may be looking to close quickly and move in under a month. Remain flexible to keep the deal running smoothly, and your buyer may be willing to throw in concessions, like covering some of your closing costs or overlooking the old roof.
The market varies from city to city
As housing markets are shifting, you should expect to see more differences from city to city. Tracking Bay Area housing information can be valuable, but for an understanding of the housing market and how it pertains to the sale of your home, focus on my monthly market video updates on my website. If homebuyers start house hunting later in summer, for example, I may suggest holding more open houses, adjusting the asking price or even waiting to put it on the market.
More days on the market doesn't spell doom
No one wants their house sitting on the market for months with little buyer activity, but don’t be afraid of a house that needs a few weeks – or even a couple months – to find the right buyer. The median days on market for properties ebbs and flows throughout the year, and it changes as conditions shift more slowly to a buyer’s market. Real estate brokerage Redfin reports the median number of days on the market for U.S. housing hit its lowest point last year in June at just 35 days. In March 2019, the median number of days on the market was 49. While you can expect that median to drop again during the Spring and Summer, you’ll likely see more houses sitting on the market as buyers are more selective.
You may have to lower your asking price
You may have watched friends and family sell their homes in previous Spring seasons with multiple offers on the first day and above the list price. However, that part of the real estate cycle is over. Instead, I may recommend a drop in the asking price to ensure the right buyers are touring your property.
Landscaping can make a difference
Green grass and blooming trees help your home’s exterior look its best for photos and open houses, but that doesn’t mean you should let nature do all the work. Keep your grass cut, plant fresh flowers and trim shrubs or bushes that have a tendency to grow into walkways. If your grass didn’t return from the winter as green as it could be, you may want to consider new sod to improve your curb appeal.
Some staging is required
As with your home’s exterior, there’s no reason to slack off when it comes to preparing your house to impress would-be buyers. That means decluttering the house, emptying closets to make them appear larger, moving some furniture to storage to help rooms look bigger and keeping counters clear and show-ready at all times.
Some projects can be DIY
It’s common for agents, myself included, to recommend that home sellers repaint some rooms, clean the carpet and power-wash the deck or driveway. Fortunately, many of these smaller projects are usually do-it-yourself tasks that require minimal cash to get your home looking fresh. A professional touch on bigger upgrades may see more return.
For certain parts of your home that need work outside your skill set, incurring the cost of a professional will be worth it in the end. While spending money often isn’t what you have in mind when you think about selling your home, a bad DIY tile job could become a sticking point with buyers, who may be concerned about other work was done poorly elsewhere in the house.