Here's what the experts say about the right times and the wrong times for putting your home on the market and having a successful sale.
The best month to sell a house
According to conventional wisdom, the best time to sell is in the late spring. Homebuyers are done with their taxes, energized by the warm weather and looking to find a new place to settle before the summer holidays and school starts up. More buyers means bidding wars and higher sale prices.
Most experts agree that May is the best month to list a house. A six-year study from now-defunct brokerage TheRedPin found that selling a Greater Toronto Area home in May would net you $60,000 more than selling at the worst time of year.
Be mindful that the competition will be stiff, as the number of homes on the market spikes in the spring. With so much activity, your real-estate agent should expect to put in overtime when it comes to marketing and staging open houses.
The worst month to sell a house
If you’re looking to sell your home, avoid listing in the winter, when you can expect the lowest premiums.
The worst month of all is January. According to TheRedPin, homes sell 38% slower in January than during the peak spring season, lingering for almost a month. Sellers will often get a bit less than they ask for, giving up a 2% discount.
The end of the year brings the holidays, when people are financially tapped. By January, people are less willing to make big purchases — not to mention the spectre of moving during a frosty Canadian blizzard. The school cycle also plays a role; understandably, many parents don’t want to uproot their kids in the middle of a school year.
With few buyers out there, home sales are sluggish in winter, accounting for just 13% of the annual total. Sellers can expect the remaining savvy buyers to play hardball, because they assume sellers must be very motivated if they want to make a deal over the holidays.
What about other options?
The housing market experiences a bit of a slow-down during the summer months, as people go away on vacation. The market picks back up again in autumn, as people look to move before the weather changes and snow starts to fall.
While May is typically the best month to sell, that won't always be true. According to a 2019 study from the real-estate site Zolo, homeowners in certain regions will reap greater benefits by selling in the fall. In North Vancouver, for example, selling a house in November comes with an average sales premium of $43,900, while selling a condo would bring an extra $21,600.
And not all sellers need to hibernate in winter. Since many homeowners assume they shouldn't bother trying to sell until spring, people who do put their houses on the market have less competition for buyers' attention.
Some of these buyers are very determined. These are people who, for whatever reason, may need to move NOW. If you think you've got a winning property and are willing to stand firm in the face of tight-fisted winter shoppers, you could land an unexpectedly good deal from a desperate buyer.