If you’re looking to sell your home, is there an optimal window of time during the year when your listing is likely to sell faster and at a higher price? Put another way, could the ideal time for listing your house be a specific month or even a two-week period?
One group of researchers says yes. After sorting through the sales of more than 20 million single-family homes, condos and cooperatives that occurred between 2008 and 2015, researchers at Zillow, the real estate marketing company, concluded that listing times do indeed matter. List at the wrong time and you might take longer to sell, and you might sell for less. Choose the optimal two-week period and you may do better.
Nationwide, researchers found that “homes listed in the late spring (May 1 through May 15) sell around 18.5 days faster and for 1 percent more than the average listing.”
Optimal times can vary by location, however. In the Washington and Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan areas, April 16 through April 30 produces faster selling times and higher prices, according to Zillow. In San Diego, the best two weeks come earlier: March 16 through March 31. In Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, they’re considerably later: May 16 through May 31. Other major markets, such as Chicago, Seattle, Phoenix and New York, track the national sweet spot, May 1 through May 15. It’s a little hard to figure — Boston and Los Angeles don’t match up well on climate — but researchers insist that’s what the numbers say.
Zillow, best known for its popular but sometimes controversial online “Zestimates” of the value of millions of homes on and off the market, has pinpointed ideal listing times down to the Zip-code level. Individual Zestimates now include a “Best Time to List” feature that displays a bar graph showing the estimated selling price differences month by month.
I checked the Zestimate on my own home outside Washington and found that, according to Zillow’s calculations, I’d get $15,000 to nearly $20,000 more than the average over the full year by listing in March or April, and $35,000 to $40,000 more than if I listed in October or November. Curiously, if I listed in January or February — that’s when we get blizzards here — I’d do better than listing in June, July or anytime through December.
Huh? That didn’t make sense to me, but Zillow says it has the hard statistics to back it up. Just in case I needed guidance on any of this, though, the “Best Time to List” tool comes with a handy “Contact an agent” button right below the bar graph.
In an interview, Zillow’s chief economist, Svenja Gudell, maintained that this “is not meant to be a lead producer” for realty agents who pay money to advertise on Zillow, even though that’s precisely whom you’ll hear from if you hit the button.
So back to the original question: Is there any magic window of time to list your home for sale? Mary Bayat, principal broker at Bayat Realty in Northern Virginia, agrees that “when the weather is good and flowers are blooming” — that would be the spring months — properties look better, If they’re in good condition, show well and are priced and marketed right, it’s an excellent time to sell.
But she told me that trying to pinpoint ideal two-week periods “is the wrong idea,” because houses can sell fast and for solid premiums throughout the year.
Alexis Eldorrado, founder and managing broker of Eldorrado Chicago Real Estate, says many factors can affect rapidity of sale more than the timing of the listing. For example, she put a luxury high-rise condo unit on the market in the frigid depths of Chicago’s winter last month and it sold in 11 days “close to list” after 10 showings. One key to that quick sale: The owner did a pre-listing upgrading of the kitchen to bring it up to the standards expected in that price range.
Kary Krismer, managing broker at John L. Scott/KMS Renton in the Seattle area, where Zillow is based, says the dominant factor in his market is the shortage of houses listed for sale. As a result, “the listing date is not currently a significant factor. Buyers are scrambling for properties” — it’s a seller’s market — so the week or month of the year is no big deal.
Ken Harney’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.