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Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 09/26/2012

Ask the real estate expert | When is the best time of year to sell your home?

Paul Valentino, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the Greater Washington area, is a 30-year real estate veteran. Below, he shares his thoughts on when is the best time of year to list/sell your home.

Spring fever, summer doldrums, holiday interruptions, winter icicles, there is always something going on when you are thinking about selling your house. Which leads to the question:  When is the best time of year to list/sell my house?

The simple and uncomplicated answer is any time you’re ready!

Seasonally more homes sell in spring and early summer than fall and winter. Roughly 21 percent of sales occur from January thru March (the lowest quarter) and 35 percent between May and July (the busiest three months).  However, don’t let the numbers lead you to believe spring/summer is the best time to sell.  It’s just the time more people do.  There is actually no bad time to sell.  Home sales take place every day, 12 months of the year.

So assuming you have a choice and don’t have an absolute need to sell because of a job transfer or other reason, when should you put your home on the market?  As we approach the final months of 2012, here are some thoughts:

●Act on what you know is happening in the market, not what you think or perceive the market will be.  None of us are good enough to forecast accurately where the market is headed.  All we know is market conditions now.

●Interest rates are low.  Do you know what they’ll be if you wait?  Interest rates can impact buyer decisions both positively and negatively.

●There is shortage of inventory in the DC metro market right now.  Low inventory and strong buyer demand usually equates to strong prices.  Do you know what inventory levels will be in six months?

●You can determine accurate pricing now.  Do you know what prices will do in the next six months?  If so, please let me know!

●Many people think, “My house will be worth more in the spring so I’ll wait.”  If you’re buying another home, so will the home you are buying and if you’re buying in a higher price range, the difference is even bigger.  Waiting will cost you more money.

Here’s an example:

Sale price of current home $400,000
Potential price appreciation over six months at 1.5 percent (1.5 percent x $400,000) $6,000
Purchase price of new home $600,000
Potential price appreciation over six months at 1.5 percent (1.5 percent x $600,000) $9,000

In this scenario, waiting to sell your home will cost you $3,000.

●If you’re not buying another home, how do you know your home will be worth more in the spring?  You know what you can get now.  Waiting adds risk to your financial equation.

The fall and winter can be good times to place your house on the market.  Consider: Buyers active in the market during this time of the year are serious buyers. Serious buyers usually mean serious offers. You have less competition from other sellers because they “don’t want their property on the market at this time of year.”  Be a contrarian! Less competition often translates into stronger pricing for you — on both the buy and sale side of a transaction.

Seasonally there really is no bad time to sell. But there are times when you might not want to put your home on the market.

●You’ve been transferred.  Most people react to this situation thinking they need to sell their house.  Actually, a better decision might be to hold onto it as a long-term investment.  After all, the DC market has traditionally been one of the strongest real estate markets in the country.  Perhaps the market where you are going isn’t as good as the market here.

●There are several foreclosed properties for sale in your neighborhood. Your home’s asking price will be compared to those the bank is asking.  And the bank may be asking significantly less than what you can get for yours if the bank property were not on the market.   Perhaps waiting (at least six months for appraisal purposes) until these properties are sold and settled can get you a higher price.

The bottom line is that as long as your home is priced properly any time of year in the DC metro is a good time to sell your house.

Read Valentino’s blog post on “Pricing your home to sell”

A certified residential broker, Paul Valentino holds the National Association of Realtors e-PRO professional real estate designation and is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Virginia Association of Realtors and the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.

By Paul Valentino  |  05:30 AM ET, 09/26/2012

 
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