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The best times of year to buy and sell a house

Expert advice on timing the housing market

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Are you thinking about buying or selling a house this year? Believe it or not, there are certain months of the year that are historically better for sellers — and other months that are more likely to be better for buyers.

“In a seller’s market, where there is high demand for homes and limited supply, it can be a good time to sell a home,” explains Adie Kriegstein, a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson and founder of the NYC Experience Team at Compass.

“In contrast, a buyer’s market, where there are more homes for sale than buyers, can be a good time to buy a home but not to sell one,” she says. (This is in addition to factors like fluctuating mortgage rates, and changes to the interest rate set by the Federal Reserve.)

We asked Kriegstein what she thought about timing the housing market, as well as what buyers and sellers can do to prepare in advance. She also offered a few pieces of good advice for buyers who are hoping to find their new home before the year ends — and a few tips for sellers who want their house to sell as quickly as possible.

In this article:

Spring and summer are good for sellers

If you’re thinking about selling your home, try to have your listing ready to go by early spring.

“Typically, spring and summer are popular times to sell a home,” Kriegstein explains. “The weather’s getting warmer, and people are more likely to go house-hunting — especially if they want to finish the moving process before the next school year begins.”

Whether you’re selling to a growing family that wants to take advantage of a better school district or a newly married couple hoping to use their summer PTO to set up their starter home, putting your house on the market in the spring and summer can be advantageous to your financial situation by netting a higher purchase price.

“During these seasons, there may be more competition among buyers and more homes for sale,” says Kriegstein. “This can lead to higher prices and more bidding wars.”

Fall and winter are good for buyers

If you’re thinking about buying a home, see if you can hold off househunting until fall, or even winter. “The fall and winter, especially in colder climates, tend to be less competitive for buyers,” Kriegstein told us.

While buying a house during the fall and winter months could add unnecessary stress to the busiest seasons of the year, timing your move to a fall or winter break could save you a lot of money. Sellers are often willing to cut a deal as the year ends, especially if they are hoping to factor their home sale into their upcoming tax return. You can also see if they’re willing to cover closing costs or even pay for the home inspection.

That said, your selection may be limited to houses that didn’t sell during the summer, which means that many of the best houses may have already been sold to somebody else.

“There may be fewer homes on the market,” Kriegstein explained, “which can limit buyers’ choices.”

What should you do if you plan to buy a home in the next year?

“If you are planning on buying a home in the next year,” says Kriegstein, “it’s important to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start your househunting process. This will help you gain a better idea for how much you can afford to pay for a house, and it will allow you to move quickly with submitting an offer should you find the right one.”

Once you have your mortgage pre-approval letter, you can start making a realistic assessment of which houses you might be able to afford, and which of those houses might be best for you and your family.

“Define your priorities by making a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves in a home, including location, size, style, and features,” Kriegstein advises. “This will help narrow down your search and focus on the homes that best fit your needs.”

What should you do if you plan to sell a home in the next year?

“If you are planning on selling your home in the next year,” Kriegstein told us, “it’s important to take the time to address any necessary repairs or updates your home needs before putting it on the market. This will not only get your home showing ready, but will also let you present your home in its best light.”

Some people choose to fully renovate their home before selling it, but if your home is already in good repair, all you may need to do is give a few rooms a refresh before staging your home for professional photos. “Simple updates like decluttering, adding fresh paint and rearranging furniture will go a long way in making your home more appealing to buyers,” Kriegstein says. “You could even hire a professional stager to help make your home look its best for showings.”

Kriegstein has one more tip to help sellers attract the right potential buyers. “Make sure to set a realistic price so that your house doesn’t languish on the market,” she says. “A well-priced home gets traffic and then offers.”

That said, keep in mind that real estate is complex—and even the best-timed listings may not sell as quickly as expected. “Ultimately, the best season to buy or sell a home depends on a variety of factors, including individual circumstances, the local housing market, and the larger economy,” Kriegstein reminds us. “It’s important to work with a knowledgeable real estate professional who can help guide you through the process and make informed decisions based on current market conditions.”

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About Nicole Dieker

Nicole Dieker has been a full-time freelance writer since 2012, with a focus on personal finance and habit formation. In addition to Haven Life, her work regularly appears at Lifehacker, Bankrate,, and Vox. Dieker spent five years as a writer and editor for The Billfold, a personal finance blog where people had honest conversations about money, and is the author of Frugal and the Beast: And Other Financial Fairy Tales.

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