When’s the best time to buy or sell a home?

MCE for sale signWhen consumers start thinking of buying or selling a home, the first that pops into most everyone’s mind is spring market — the time of year when the most inventory comes on and when competition is at its fiercest. However, with 90 percent of homebuyers today starting their search online, along with the masses of information available online before ever engaging with a real estate agent or mortgage lender, the traditional guiding principles seem to be something of the past.

“A real estate article of faith once had it that mid- to late-February, the start of the so-called spring season, was the best time to list a property. … September was another good option, as long as sellers took care to wait until after Labor Day.” —Real Estate: The right time to sell is anytime, New York Times

A home that shows well and is priced right will sell quickly, regardless of the time of year it hits the market, especially with the constant ebb and flow of consumers in the metro D.C. area due to the seat of the federal government, State Department and members of the military.

In fact, the popular times of the year to sell — the spring and fall — might make an argument for when not to sell. The dead of winter and summer means there’s less inventory available, making a seller’s home one of maybe a handful on the market and will face less competition — which is great if your home isn’t the shiniest one on the block. A house that might not get much interest in the competitive spring market may draw a crowd when there’s nothing else to choose from.

Additionally, buying in a slower time of the year means buyers could face less competition. A home that might receive a half dozen offers during the spring (some of which might be all cash), might only receive one or two during other times of the year.

For my husband and me, we bought a week or so before Thanksgiving and closed in mid-December. There wasn’t much to choose from, but nevertheless, we needed a house then and there. In addition, we were the only offer; we were “traditional” buyers with a mortgage and didn’t have to face competition from all-cash buyers or use an escalation clause to be the top offer — which was great to us.

Truth be told, you can buy or sell a home anytime of the year. There will always be something to buy, and there will always be someone looking to buy.

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