Homes sell faster and for more money during certain times of the year, depending on buyer behavior and the seasonality of your market. If you have the luxury of picking your list date, our data shows it’s possible to boost the profits on your house by over 75% if you sell at an opportune moment.
Yet personal motivations to sell often trump a calculated listing strategy.
“Everybody wants to talk about the market—what the market’s doing, and where the market’s going—but I don’t think those market factors drive most decisions,” says Tom Schieber, the number 3 seller’s agent in Brentwood, California.
“Most buying and selling decisions have to do with something going on in your life. A new job, a loss of job, a job transfer, a growing family, a empty nester.”
Whether you plan your whole sale around the best time to sell in your city, or need to pull the trigger on your home sale in the offseason, each distinct time of year comes with its own home maintenance demands, curb appeal opportunities and selling strategies.
Knowing this, we spoke with top real estate agents from all over the country and read up on advice from industry experts to bring you the best pro tips for selling your home in the spring, summer, fall—and even the dead of winter—so you can prep and market your home to play to the strengths of the season.
Tips for selling your home in the spring
The smell of fresh flowers and the start of warmer days lure buyers out of hibernation and into house hunting mode. Aspiring homeowners drop into their lender’s office to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Open house and for-sale signs start popping up in yards around your city.
It must be spring!
In many areas, spring is the hottest time to sell your home—the weather is one big driver, while the desire to get settled into a new home before the next school year starts is a major motivating factor for parents.
If you choose to sell in the spring, you’ll likely benefit from the natural surge in buyer demand, depending on the dynamics and conditions of your local real estate market.
But be aware that you’ll have more competition from other sellers on the block who have the exact same idea!
Spring maintenance checklist list to clean up from a harsh winter
- Clear out the rain gutters to prepare for the wet season and prevent major water damage, which can be costly to repair and will come up in the home inspection.
- Inspect and clean your siding to eliminate dirt and grime built up over the winter.
- Test your AC unit—change out the air filter, and inspect it for any maintenance issues as the weather warms up.
Spring curb appeal tips that play to the freshness of the season
- Throw fresh mulch in the flower beds (some of our favorites are EarthGro Black Mulch – $2.50), Vigoro Brown Mulch – $3.33 and Mahaska Red Cedar Mulch – $3.97).
- Plant spring flowers for extra pops of color and decorative flair. Better Homes and Gardens offers a list of 21 flowers that thrive in the spring, from brightly and multicolored pansies, to the sweet fragrance of lilacs.
- Trim unruly leaves, branches, and other vegetation. The National Association of Realtors ranks landscape maintenance as the top outdoor project to boost a home’s resale value.
Spring house showing tips
- Highlight spaces with light accent colors and place vases of fresh cut flowers out before showings.
- If the warm weather allows, throw open a few windows to let the fresh air in—or at the very least open up the curtains to brighten up key rooms with natural light.
This simple prep will go a long way in convincing buyers that yours is the home they want to spend their summer in, and by letting your outdoor and indoor space shine, you’re making it that much easier for them to picture that future.
Tips for selling your home in the summer
Summer isn’t too shabby of a season to sell a home either, especially since some of those spring listings might take time to sell.
Summer’s also a great time to sell if you find yourself living in a unique market, like Florida—or really any place with a lot of seasonal tourism.
Real estate agent Steve Bacardi of southwest Florida is a top seller with 40 years of experience—and he knows a thing or two about when the homes sell best.
“For families,” he says, “summer is the best time. Families only buy in summer, so kids are all settled when it comes time to start school.”
A good weather forecast can also help summer homes sell, since this time of year (much like spring) shows off a property’s outdoor features.
Summer home maintenance checklist to beat the heat
- Wash the windows! After a long winter season, windows will be dirty—but we don’t want your buyer to see that. Cleaning the windows doesn’t have to be a paid job or even a long grueling task. With a little time and elbow grease, you can polish windows and glass doors up nicely just in time for showings.
- Clean up the driveway and patio. Driveways and porches also tend to hold a lot of sand and debris after winter and spring. Take a broom and brush clean all the walkways and corners—and any other spaces your buyer might see as they walk in.
- Inspect and wipe down your exterior doors. Check your front door (as well as other doors) for signs of wear and tear, and address those problems before you list the house.
- Check your sprinkler system and make needed repairs. Not only will a home inspector note whether the sprinkler system is in working order, but vegetation in your yard will suffer if it’s not getting the water it needs in the hotter months.
Summer curb appeal tips to highlight your home’s outdoor space
If you decide to sell in summer, you’ll want to make sure your home’s curb appeal is at the top of its game.
Says Bacardi, “The first few seconds of visualization of the house sets the tone for buyer—poor landscaping and dead grass sets connotation for viewing of home. Inside the home could be spectacular, but if curb appeal isn’t good it won’t matter.”
- Spruce up the exterior, and stage it too! Decorate with some plants on the front porch, and throw a few chairs or a bench near the entrance to create a cozy atmosphere. Add in a pitcher of lemonade or a vase of flowers on a bistro table, or place a plant and a garden hat by the backdoor as a vignette staging technique.
- Fix up bare spots in the yard and make sure your grass is a brilliant green. Use Scott’s PatchMaster from Lowe’s to fill in any dirt patches, water any brown spots and mow the lawn in neat rows before buyers come.
- Repair your fence. Buyers with kids and pets don’t want to take on the extra expenses of adding or replacing a fence, so a beat up fence could turn them away. Plus, a well-maintained and attractive fence adds major curb appeal bonus points.
Summer house showing tips
- Crank down the temperature inside before showings. You don’t want buyers to work up a sweat when they tour your home and wonder if they’ll be able to make it through the scorching months to come. Crank up the AC a few hours before a showing to get the interior feeling nice and cool.
- Offer light refreshments during showings. Bottles of water on the counter labeled for the taking, or placed in the fridge with a note inviting buyers to grab one, can be a friendly touch. Parched and weary home hunters who are on their third tour of the day as summer reaches fever pitch will be sure to appreciate the gesture.
Whatever you can do to make the exterior of your home shine (and stage it like the ultimate summer retreat) will go a long way with the summer buyer.
Although many cities experience a great selling season during the summer, some of the top ones are in regions like central California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northeast.
Tips for selling your home in the fall
Fall is a hit or miss season for local housing markets, but interestingly enough a few trends carry over from the summer months.
In the same way young families often move in summer, fall movers tend to be of an older generation that’s finally decided to make a permanent snowbird migration.
Of southwest Florida, Bacardi says, “Fall is very brisk for baby-boomers who don’t want to rent for another season but want to buy that retire home.”
If you live in a place with a large population of seasonal guests, you might just want to take advantage of this seasonal buyer urgency.
Fall home maintenance checklist to prepare for cooling temperatures
- Keep your yard clean of scattered branches and sticks, and rake up any falling leaves.
- Inspect your central heating system. Be proactive about making sure your central heating system is in good working order for the buyers of your home.
- Touch up peeling or cracked paint on the home’s exterior while temperatures are mild.
- Unclog gutters with any fallen leaves or debris, and make sure the roof is still in good shape before your buyers arrive.
Fall curb appeal tips that aren’t over the top
- Paint your front door a bold color. You could go for a bright pumpkin orange to match the season if you’re feeling festive. Most importantly, pick a color scheme that’s either monochromatic, analogous, contrasting or complementary using the color wheel. You’ll also want to choose something in harmony with your exterior, landscaping, and neighborhood feel.
- Plant fall mums around your front walkway or step in the gorgeous autumn shades of deep burgundy, burnt orange or golden yellow.
Fall house showing tips to make your home feel warm and inviting
- Although fall varies greatly by region, adding in a few DIY festive decorations can make a big difference in the appeal of your home if you’re in a region that experiences a true crisp, sunny autumn. Throw a flannel blanket by the fireplace, leave out a pumpkin spice candle (unlit) for ambiance during showings, and even hang some dried corn husks from the front door.
- Put a fire in the fireplace with your agent’s supervision (have them be in charge of turning it off and on) to give buyers the warm and fuzzies. If that’s not logistically feasible, at least highlight the fireplace with fall foliage decor and a clean mantel.
Another pro tip for selling your house in the fall? Make sure your marketing materials reflect the season. Summer pictures of a fall listing will only serve to make your buyer think the home has been sitting on the market for months.
Real estate agent Jami Harich of Stafford, Maryland always advises her clients to take current photos.
Harich, who ranks #1 of nearly 500 local agents says, “Decorate for the season—if you’re taking photos and end up selling the home later, then you should retake them so people don’t get the idea that the house is just sitting there.”
Cities in southern states like Texas, as well as those with an indian summer (like San Francisco) see the most home sales during the fall.
Tips for selling your home in the winter
Winter can be abysmal for buyer foot traffic and interest, but in colder climates you can guarantee the buyers out touring homes in the snow, sleet, and ice are motivated and ready to put down an offer.
With every degree the temperature drops, another casual home shopper drops out of the running.
As a seller, you can also do all the winter prep work ahead of time and list your home as soon as the holiday lull lifts. “With less homes on the market during winter months, you can price it right and have success, as a lot of people pick up (their search) after the holidays,” says Harich.
You might be the only home for sale in a several mile radius depending on your area, so take each showing seriously, as any buyer who’s come this far in winter conditions is serious about finding a house.
Winter home maintenance checklist to keep your house warm
- Winterize your water pipes. Leaving your house for an extended period during the holidays during below freezing weather? Before you take off, make sure to turn your water off at the source, and open all faucets to allow a slow, constant drip to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting.
- Check and clean your chimney (if you have a fireplace). A dirty chimney is a fire hazard, and a big turn off to buyers. You can do a DIY cleanout with a chimney cleaning kit, but even brave souls will want to call in a pro to check for any animals who might have made themselves right at home before proceeding.
- Inspect your attic insulation and ventilation. As a rule of thumb, your insulation should be at such a high level that you cannot see the attic joists beneath it.
Winter curb appeal tips for the holidays and severe weather
- Since not every buyer will necessarily celebrate the same holidays as you, be sure to stick to a neutral style in your decorations. Avoid items with intense religious connotations, and put the inflatable Santa and reindeer display away.
- Shovel the driveway, walkway and front step. Pour salt on any ice to avoid slipping hazards, especially if you’re on a steep hill.
Winter house showing tips for wet shoes and sub zero temps
- Make space for buyers to hang wet coats and place their shoes. It never hurts to invest in a cheap boot tray to protect your wood floors during the wet season.
- Turn up the heat for a warm and toasty showing experience. You don’t want buyers getting chilly, or have them commenting on how drafty your house feels at every turn.
Universal tips to sell your home in any season
Top real estate agents who’ve sold homes in rain or shine, blizzards and heat waves, and upturns and downturns stand by a few universal rules of thumb in any season:
- Price your home right using a comparative market analysis and based on current market conditions. You’ll face trouble from the start if your asking price doesn’t match your home’s condition or location.
- The no. 1 thing you can do to prep your home for sale is to clean it top to bottom and declutter room by room.
- Market your home to sell with stunning real estate photography, a compelling listing description, and exposure across all the top real estate listing sites.
Nail these basics and top it all off with the right seasonal maintenance and curb appeal prep work, and you’ll be putting the “sold” sign in your yard before you know it.
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