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When is the Best Time of Year to Buy a Home?  To Sell a Home?

Though housing is something that remains in demand all year long, the housing market—just like any other commodity market—is often cyclical. While the time of the year you are looking to buy or sell your home is just one thing you should keep in mind when making a decision, it is certainly an important detail you shouldn’t overlook.


In general, people who are looking to buy a home will want to buy it during a time of the year when there are relatively many different homes available to choose from. When there are more homes available than people looking to buy them, this tends to make sellers a little more desperate, which means they might be willing to accept a lower asking price and also potentially make additional concessions (upgrading the kitchen, adding a new roof, fixing structural issues, etc.).


People looking to sell their homes, on the other hand, should hope for a market where there are a lot more people looking to buy than there are other homes available. This makes it much easier to increase your initial asking price and potentially trigger a bidding war. Bidding wars are especially likely to occur in markets where the population has been growing at a faster rate and the housing stock is physically limited.


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Why Do Changes in Seasons
Affect the Housing Market?

Determining the best time of year to buy or sell a home is not always so easy. In most markets, both buyers and sellers will become more active during the warmer months (usually, March through September), which can often result in situations where the increased activity of one will “neutralize” the increased activity of the other. So, while the housing market is undoubtedly the hottest in the summer (pun intended), that doesn’t mean the other times of the year can’t be beneficial as well.


There are quite a few reasons why more home sales occur during the summer than at any other time of the year. For starters, more people have free time and are looking to spend time outside, which makes it much more likely that people will want to do things like attend open houses and walk around a new neighborhood. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the spring and summer are when most plants will be at their best, which can make a home with a well-maintained yard become much more attractive.


Additionally, once tax season is over (April), many families will have either gotten a huge financial burden off their plate (if they had to pay taxes) or will have suddenly come into a relatively large amount of money if they got a tax refund. This makes it much easier to make an initial down payment.


But, perhaps most importantly, the housing market tends to heat up during the summer because that is when many people hope to enter a new school district. School districts are one of the primary drivers of property value and any home that is in a good district can expect increased attention from prospective buyers.


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When is Usually the Best Time of Year for Sellers?

As is the case with buying your home, the best time of year to sell your home will depend on your personal goals. Historically, according to data from Zillow, March and April (specifically, the week of April 22) is the best time of year for anyone who is hoping to sell their house quickly. However, if your goal is to make as much money as you possibly can, the best month of the year to sell will be July—this is when a lot of people are off of work and also might be looking to move into a new school district.


Of course, you will also want to keep in mind that if you do end up selling, you might also become a buyer. So even though you made a lot of money on your recent home sale, you might simultaneously be entering a competitive market.


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The Seasons Matter: But Other Factors Matter, Too

While understanding the cyclical nature of the housing market can indeed be beneficial, the time of year is rarely the most important driver of a home’s underlying value. Other factors to consider include the location of the house, the overall state of the economy and the housing market, changes in interest rates, and more. You should also never forget about your personal needs—the strategy that makes the most sense for one family might not make sense for another.

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