Deciding when to list a home for sale is "more complicated than saying, ‘What is the best time?’ ” says Bill McCabe, Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services (Century 21) in Schererville, Ind.
Realtor Kim Odegard at Keller Williams NW Indiana in Schererville, agrees. “There are pluses and minuses for different times of the year, but April, May, and June see a surge in listings,” because people put their houses on the market at the end of the school year.
McCabe sees March, April, and May as the biggest sales months. “People have been cooped up all winter, then they start looking at homes online, and there’s a lot of excitement about buying.” Still, many buyers don’t want to move in early spring because their children aren’t out of school, “so June and July can work better for them. And parents like to buy homes in June and July to get kids in place for the school year.”
“Sellers have the most buyers then, too,” says McCabe, many of whom hold off buying in winter to wait for a tax return in spring. “And for first-time buyers that can be important,” says Odegard.
August is “kind of a strange month,” according to McCabe, because parents simply start shopping for kids’ school supplies and clothing. But September and October are good months, as the flip side of spring.
Warmer weather means houses just look better then, notes Odegard. “Trees are green, flowers are blooming, all adding to curb appeal. Even inside the house, drapes and shades are open so, homes tend to look bigger.” Odegard says homes photograph better on brighter days. And, as McCabe says, “You need to have great photos; 90 percent of prospective buyers are looking online.”
Don’t rely on Mother Nature to do all the work, though. “”If the house looks nice on the outside, people assume the house is nice inside,” so spruce up the place, advises McCabe. And leave the garage door open for a prospective buyer’s visit. “So many people go into their homes from the garage, so make sure it’s neat. And make sure the entryway is a showcase,” because most people make a decision within 15 to 30 seconds of walking in.
Odegard says one variable that can be hard to predict no matter the season is the seller’s motivation, such as a job transfer or for health reasons.
While some suggest waiting to list until two or three neighboring homes go on the market to set a comparable valuation for your area, Odegard disagrees. If there hasn’t been a sale in several months, an appraiser or Realtor expands the search to a 1-mile-plus radius to find comps.
Besides, McCabe says, a lot of “For Sale” signs, even with good reason, can make a buyer wonder, “What’s wrong here?”
And Odegard adds: “Do you really want to wait and hope others will be selling when you want to?”