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Best Times To Put A Home On The Market

Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2011

You've probably wondered "how and when can I sell my house in an economic downturn?" Even though it's a buyer's market in the United States these days, with the right timing and marketing, you should be able to find a buyer. Since houses get the most views when they are first put on the market, the best time to sell your house is when it is ready to be sold. Don't let "selling seasons" or "market timing" theories push you into going on the market before you are ready.

Research Comparables

Your first step is research. Go online to investigate the housing market in your area. Assemble a list of what real estate agents call "comparables," the houses most similar to yours in neighborhood, quality, and appearance. Visit open houses to see the realities behind the advertisements. Find out the actual prices buyers have paid for houses over the past six months, rather than just the asking prices. Time on market is also important. If a house just like yours is listed for $275,000 but has been sitting on the market for six months, unless something else is wrong with it, it's probably overpriced.

Staging Your House

"Staging," the real estate term for making your house attractive to a buyer, is crucial. Take the time to get rid of all clutter to make your house look bigger. Touch up old caulking, scuffed paint, ragged shrubbery, loose handles, and anything else that might convey the message "shabby" or "worn" to a buyer. Fix anything that isn't working perfectly, and have your most honest, most outspoken, most hypercritical friend (or your mother-in-law) walk through the house to spot flaws you haven't noticed.

Selling Season

For most regions, house selling season starts in March or April and ends in August. People prefer to move over the summer to avoid disrupting their children's schooling. House sales are especially seasonal in cold climates because heavy snow days aren't the best time for house-hunting. If you are wondering "when should I sell my house," your first thought is probably "on a nice spring day when the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming," and, statistically, you would be right.

Counter-Cyclical Selling

Everyone wants to put a house on the market for the selling season. When several comparable houses are on the market, don't just follow the herd. If you live in a warm climate, consider selling in winter. Market to Canadians, who are enjoying a favorable exchange rate, or to people relocating for new jobs.