One of the common misconceptions about selling real estate is that there is any better or worse time to sell a home. Generalising in this way doesn’t take into account the many varying factors about the season, the market, the real estate agent and the particular property that may influence the outcome of your selling campaign. So, when is the best time to sell? Sure, there are seasonal considerations, but by thinking about your property’s individual characteristics, you can maximise your profits in any season. YOUR SELLING PRESCRIPTION: Determining the right season to sell YOUR house
Do you have the luxury of choosing the season?
It takes a whole year to cycle through each of the four seasons (but you probably already know that!) Depending on your situation, you may not have the luxury of picking which season is the right one to sell your house. But don’t despair. Properties sell all year round - always have done and always will.
Looking and feeling its best, whatever the weather
You know your property best, so consider which season your home looks the most attractive and feels the most comfortable. Cosiness in winter can sometimes mean stifling discomfort in summer. Beautiful spring blossoms may mean a whole lot of messy leaf fall in autumn. An open deck might mean fabulous summer views, but unpleasant in-your-face winds in the cooler months.
How does it feel?
Unfortunately, due to some scant historic building regulations, hastily-built properties and sub-tropical weather, many parts of NZ have poorly-insulated or damp houses. This situation is slowly turning around, but if your property tends to be damp, it could be smart to sell in a drier season if possible. By the same token, if summer sun pours directly into your house and heats things up to uncomfortable levels, a cooler season selling period may be a better idea.
What are your property’s unique selling points?
Do you have a fairly standard, average type of property without anything too special about it? It could be swallowed up by other listings during busier real estate industry times, so you might want to consider selling in a quieter season. Is there something characteristic about your home which will be shown to its best advantage during one season or another? This could be established fruit trees (run your selling campaign when they’re laden), easy beach access (run your selling campaign during the warmer months) or proximity to a sought-after college or university (run your selling campaign before the academic year begins).
In the neighbourhood
Consider the pros and cons of your property’s surroundings. If you’re on a busy street and experience excessive noise, it could be advantageous to campaign through the quieter summer period; likewise, if your house is close to a primary school or a busy intersection. What seasonal activities happen in your neighbourhood that may either attract or put off potential buyers? Don’t forget to consider your target buyer; if you have a large family home then a local family-focused event may appeal, whereas the same event may put off potential buyers of a property suitable for single professionals.
SEASONAL SELLING: When is the best time to sell?
Selling your house in SUMMER
Summer listings suffer one major impediment in NZ; namely Christmas and New Year holidays. A quiet time everywhere, many potential buyers take themselves out of the market altogether and real estate agents may be less available to interested buyers over those few weeks. However, if you manage to list right at the beginning of summer, the pressure to sell before Christmas may work in your favour. Summer is a great time to sell a holiday home when vacation spots are heaving with holidaymakers; likewise, any property with close proximity to summer activity spots like beaches and lakes. Listing in summer can also be advantageous as there are increased daylight hours to show your home off to interested buyers.
Selling your house in AUTUMN
Following the quiet summer period, the calendar clicks around to autumn and more real estate listings appear. Autumn is the season that brings motivated buyers keen to make a move before winter sets in for the year. More listings equals more competition to sell your home, but a busier industry also attracts more interest, and post-summer activity can help inject more energy into the real estate market. Autumn may also mean your property is not looking its best. Dry, patchy lawns, bare trees or withered gardens limit curb appeal and the ravages of summer’s heat may have taken a toll, but a cosy aspect or feel to your house will be very appealing in autumn as the winter months stretch out ahead.
Selling your house in WINTER
Typically a season during which we hunker down and look for excuses to stay indoors where it’s warm and cosy, there tend to be fewer homes listed for sale in winter. However, with this trend comes the prevalence of more genuinely motivated buyers, real estate agents who may have more energy and time to work on your listing, fewer ‘tyre-kickers’ and a better chance for your home to stand out from the crowd. Your property may not look its best in winter, with dampness, temperature and shade affecting the impression it may make on viewers. By the same token, if your home has a north-facing aspect, elevation or other features which make the most of the available winter sun, winter could be the best season to highlight year-round cosiness - a real plus for potential buyers.
Selling your house in SPRING
Spring is considered the best time to sell a house, but consider things from all sides before choosing to launch a spring campaign. Traditionally a busy time for real estate, plenty of spring listings means plenty of choices, and while this can drive interest in your property to peaks of bidding-war frenzy among keen potential buyers, these same spoiled-for-choice buyers may also become more demanding in their negotiations. Spring is usually a time when your property looks its best, particularly in the garden, but spring weather can be unpredictable too, and rainy days could keep open home viewers away. Spring building, renovating, construction or roadworks may also be taking place in the neighbourhood which may put potential buyers off your property. Statistics confirm spring is usually the quickest time to sell a house, as buyers look to make their move before the Christmas holidays.
PRO TIPS: Maximise your real estate value no matter the season
Camouflage seasonal disadvantages
There’s no avoiding it; first impressions count, and a good visual impact should be your first consideration. Combat seasonal issues like an abundance of winter shade by planting brightly flowering plants in the garden or in pots outside or placing bright vases full of flowers inside, make sure you have good lighting indoors and perhaps consider brightening up spaces with a fresh coat of paint. Rake up and dispose of dry leaves in late summer or autumn, and prune any straggly plants. Too-bright spring and summer light can be diffused with window shades or shade umbrellas, and disguise musty interior smells caused by shutting up your home against winter cold by brewing coffee or baking cookies, or by using an essential oil diffuser.
Leverage professional knowledge
It pays to be aware of any special conditions which may affect your property, and using a professional real estate agent can make this easier. For example, redevelopment and zoning rules such as under Auckland’s Unitary Plan, and both government and bank lending policies may affect the value of your property. Using a service like MyPitchlist invites local agents who are clued up on these issues to bid for your house listing, and allows you to make an informed choice in terms of their package offering and their unique understanding of your property’s selling potential.
Promote the best features wisely
Once you’ve determined the best seasonal features of the house, make sure potential buyers’ attention is directed that way by highlighting these features in your marketing campaign. The best real estate agents are skilled in identifying these unique attributes and pointing them out to viewers.
People need houses, no matter the season
Try not to let your decision-making process get bogged down in seasonal considerations. While it’s a good idea to be mindful of seasonal pros and cons when selling your house, remember that buyers are always on the lookout for new properties. At any time of the year people find they need more room or less room, they shift from place to place, their families get bigger or smaller, or they just need a change of pace, view or style. The real estate market ebbs and flows, but win-win deals between vendors and buyers are made every day of the week.
Will real estate prices ever go down?
In January 2021 the real estate industry achieved a median nationwide price of $730,300 with the lowest number-of-days-to-sell in 17 years. Low-interest rates, favourable lending conditions and a relative shortage of houses on the market means it’s a great time to sell your house right now. Commentators constantly speculate about whether real estate will crash or boom. While nobody has a crystal ball to see into the future, for now, a smart house seller would be wise to keep a clear head, list their house for sale when it suits them and their situation (while maximising its seasonal attributes) and reap the rewards the real estate market offers by seeking a quick and profitable sale.