Life often gets in the way when it comes to real estate. You might have no intention of selling your home, but an amazing job offer comes from across the country. Or maybe a serious family issue requires you to uproot and move back to the place where you grew up. Either way, you don’t anticipate occupying your house again.
So you decide to list the house on the market. In these cases, you can’t dictate the timing, so you hope for the best. But what month do you really not want to sell your home?
GOBankingRates asked experts who sell real estate or manage properties for their take on what is the absolute worst month to buy and sell a house. Even if there wasn’t a consensus about a certain month, the experts agreed on the season.
The Worst Month To Sell or Buy a Home
For the most part, the experts agreed that December ranks as the worst month for selling and buying, in general, but gave the nod to the entire winter season.
“Determining the worst month to buy or sell a house can depend on various factors, including location, local market conditions, the state of the broader economy and even the specific characteristics of the home in question. That being said, data has generally shown that the winter months, particularly December, tend to be less favorable for real estate transactions for several reasons,” said Tyler Scott, the co-founder and managing partner of Colorado-based Legacy Land.
The reasons for a more dismal December? They start with the holidays, with potential buyers and sellers focused on preparations and celebrations, “leading to fewer people actively looking to buy or sell homes,” he said.
And then there’s the expense of the gift-giving season and other monetary factors that keep buyers looking.
“Many potential buyers may be more financially stretched in December due to holiday spending. Also, year-end financial planning considerations might lead some people to postpone major purchases like homes until the new year,” he said.
Pile onto that the need to take kids out of school mid-year if you move, along with weather, with home shoppers less willing to trudge out in the cold and snow in some regions. For sellers, their homes just don’t have the same allure as they do at other times of the year.
“This can also make it harder for sellers to showcase their homes in the best light, particularly when it comes to features like landscaping,” Scott said.
The Entire Season Isn’t Great
Experts said December isn’t the only sour month for buying and selling. Look at the whole season.
“In addition to showing being difficult during this season, buying a house during snowing winter can be risky as well,” said Rinal Patel, co-founder of We Buy Philly Home and a real estate agent and investor. “This is because buyers can not entirely know for sure the visual/physical appearance of the property. When buying a house, buyers hope to know the full condition of both the interior and exterior and the appearance of the house, but the winter makes it difficult to know the actual state of the exterior of the house.”
And it isn’t an advantage for sellers, either, she said.
“Selling a house during winter makes the seller come off as desperate, and this can greatly influence how much they can sell the house [for],” Patel said. “Generally, the winter – December to February — is the holiday season, and whether or not the seller is not in great haste to sell off the property, they also stand the risk of having the house remain unsold, sitting in the market for too long a period, and this doesn’t bode well for the future of the house on the market.”
Still, like the glistening snow of the season, December and the winter offer some benefits, especially to buyers, said Brett Rosenthal, a realtor and team leader at Compass in Philadelphia
“In my opinion the worst time to buy a home is when the market is hot, which is usually spring and early summer,” Rosenthal said. “When you buy during that time frame, there is tons of competition, which usually means that prices go higher.
“The best time to buy a home is November, December and January because the sellers that list then generally need to sell then, and because they are less desirable months for buyers, you often get a better deal.”
So, What Is the Best Time To Buy or Sell
Historically, it’s been believed that the best time to sell is late spring, which allows a deal to close in time for families to settle in ahead of the new school year.
But, while your home might look its best then with a newly painted front door and freshly planted flowers and shrubs, it just might not be the best time to sell because of factors beyond seasonal control, such as interest rates and availability of homes on the market — whether a glut or a shortage.
“Ultimately, the best time to sell or buy a house depends on the specific local market conditions, as well as personal circumstances,” said Joshua Haley, founder of Moving Astute. “It’s important for sellers and buyers to work closely with experienced real estate professionals who possess a deep understanding of the local market dynamics. They can provide valuable insights into the optimal timing based on historical trends, current demand and individual goals.
“And as an additional tip, regardless of the month you choose to engage in a real estate transaction, it’s crucial to price the property appropriately, stage it effectively and market it strategically. These elements can greatly impact the success of a sale or purchase, regardless of the specific timing.”
More From GOBankingRates