This article is part of a larger series on How to Become a Real Estate Agent.
Based on historical data, the best time to sell a house is spring to early summer, and the worst time is in the fall and winter months. Familiarizing yourself with seasonal trends and statistics that affect home sales, like weather, days on market, home prices, and market competition, is essential to picking the best time to list a home for sale. This knowledge is valuable to homeowners planning to sell their properties and real estate agents representing a seller.
Please note: the real estate statistics in this article are based on national surveys and data throughout the US. Some data may differ based on your location throughout the country, which can impact the real estate market trends and the best and worst times to sell a house.
Read along to find out the best and worst months to sell a home, as well as key takeaways and sales trend data for homesellers.
Best Time to Sell a House: March to August
The best time of year to sell a house falls between March and August, as buyer demand outpaces the number of houses available for sale. Homeowners can sell their properties at 10% (or higher) above market value during this time, especially in May, June, and July. While homeowners compete with other sellers during the spring homebuying season, properties still sell faster due to the housing shortage.
Highest Home Prices in April
If you want to earn more profit on your property, the best month to sell a house is in April. In March 2022, homebuyer demand was high, with properties being sold at a median sales price of $436,700. By April, median prices skyrocketed to $454,700 before slightly slowing down at $449,000 in May. This rise in home prices is caused by high demand and low inventory, which allows sellers to charge more for their homes.
More Homes Sold Above List Price in April & May
According to data from Redfin, 59.2% of homes sold above list price in May 2022. This is a 16.7% increase since January of the same year. Home prices also tend to skyrocket as early as March to keep up with the high demand from homebuyers. As the spring homebuying season kicks off, the market experiences intense bidding wars, and homesellers receive multiple offers from serious buyers.
In some cities, like Atlanta, GA, Louisville, KY, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, and New York, NY, sellers got the most proceeds from their home sales between March and August, with homes selling 2.86% to 10.5% above average sale price.
Check out the table below to see some of the cities that experienced the best home sale prices for sellers from April to August 2021:
Best Month to List
% Above Average Sale Price in 2021
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
One factor that may have affected home sales in specific cities is seasonality. For example, in Minneapolis, MN, homes were sold at 7.34% above the list price in June 2021. This indicates high buyer demand during this time of year, when the snow season has finally melted and the warm summer weather begins.
Other factors affecting buyer demand in local markets are interest rates, interstate migration, unemployment, income levels, and market conditions. Check out our article on the 10 States With the Strongest & Weakest Housing Markets to learn more.
Lowest Median Days on Market (DOM) in May
A low median DOM reflects a favorable seller market. In May, the median DOM was 31 days, which is lower than the mean DOM between November and February, where houses stay on the market for 47 up to 61 days. The low DOM means houses sell faster during this time of year than in winter, when the holiday season is in full swing. Moreover, a low DOM indicates that buyers have less time to negotiate with sellers and less opportunity to look at multiple homes.
Reasons why spring was the best time to sell a home in 2022:
- April 2022: Most expensive median sales prices are listed at $454,700 (and at $376,600 in April 2021)
- May 2022: Lowest mean DOM at 31 days
- March, April, and May 2022: More homes sold above list price, 54.2%, 58.8%, 59.2%, respectively
Worst Time to Sell a House: October to February
If you’re looking for premium prices, the worst time to sell a house is between October and February. With changes in the weather and holiday interruptions as a factor, there is low demand amid high housing supply. Also, since fewer individuals are looking to buy a house, properties tend to stay longer on the market and sell at relatively lower prices.
Lower Homebuyer Demand Between December & February
Year over year, October to January has the lowest number of homes sold. But the starkest drop in sales is observable between December and February. In December 2021, 598,981 homes were sold. Only a few months later in 2022, the number of homes sold reduced to only 416,410 and 420,509 in January and February, respectively. The sudden decrease reflects low homebuying demand due to the holiday season and unfavorable weather in most states.
Lower Home Prices in December
Historically, the winter months offer smaller yields for homesellers. With the holiday season (and cold weather in most states), some homebuyers prefer to stay away from the market and spend quality time with their loved ones. As the demand for homes drops during this season, houses tend to sell at lower prices, making December the worst month to sell a house.
The year 2021 might have experienced several exceptions. Because of historic low-interest rates, homebuying demand soared during the last quarter of 2021, encouraging prices to move upward. As a result, the median home sales price in December 2021 is 10% higher than that in December 2020. Nevertheless, the median price of $410,000 in December 2021 is lower than the sales prices of $427,300 and $430,300 in October and November, respectively (see table below).
Higher Median Days on Market in January
If you want to sell your home faster, the worst time of year to sell a house is in January. As people are still enjoying or playing catch-up at work from their holidays, there is a low demand to purchase a house. This leads to higher days on the market for homes listed during this time. Based on a report from FRED, January 2021 and 2022 recorded the highest DOM at 71 and 61 days, respectively. The long DOM could be disadvantageous for sellers.
Notably, there’s a sudden decrease in newly listed homes between October and December—from 628,277 to 369,618, respectively. New listings typically generate the most interest from buyers. However, a home that stays on the market for a long time gives buyers a negative perception, thinking there’s something wrong with it or the seller. As a result, some buyers may shy away from your property. To attract qualified prospects, you may be forced to reduce the asking price to a much lower rate than you intended.
Slower Moving Frequency in October, November & December
Based on a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), relocating to a new area for work is one of the top reasons for purchasing a home. However, the months of October, November, and December recorded a slower moving frequency than any other time throughout the year. Only 7% of the population moved in October, while 6% and 3% moved in November and December, respectively.
The report further said that 34% of people moved for their families, and 26% moved for their job. This slow-moving frequency negatively affects homebuying demand. Consequently, this leads to longer days on market and lower home sales prices.
The autumn and winter seasons bring several disadvantages to homesellers. Since it’s the off-peak season, there are fewer buyers interested in searching for a new home. With low demand, properties tend to sell longer and at lower prices. Furthermore, busy school activities can hinder 44% of buyers who have kids from scheduling a home viewing. Nevertheless, there are still serious buyers who are motivated to purchase a home quickly despite the holiday frenzy.
Reasons why autumn and winter are the worst time to sell a home in 2022:
- December 2021: Home prices dropped by 4% at $410,000 (from $430,000 in November 2021)
- January 2022: Houses stay on market for an average of 61 days (and 71 days in January 2021)
- October, November, and December 2021: Moving frequency is slowest at 7%, 6%, and 3%, respectively
Home Sale Data by Month
Since 2020, the number of houses available has steadily increased from 3.8 million in December to 4.5 million in February the following year. By April 2021, more houses were listed on the market, reaching 6.8 million in August of the same year. This means more homeowners were willing to sell their properties in response to high buyer demand. Though the number of available homes reached its peak in October 2021 (influenced by historic low mortgage rates), supply began to decrease in the succeeding winter months.
The median days on market (DOM) is lower between April and August compared to the months between October and February, with the lowest median DOM of 36 days in June. Home prices also begin to spike in March, recording the highest median sales price of $436,700 in March 2022. This indicates a seller’s market, where buyers are willing to close deals amid high prices due to inadequate housing supply.
Best & Worst Times to Sell
Month & Year
Worst Months to Sell Real Estate
Best Months to Sell Real Estate
Worst Months to Sell Real Estate
Best Months to Sell Real Estate
Pro tip: If you need to sell your home between October and February, we suggest hiring a licensed real estate agent to help you attract more qualified leads and find the best deals for your home. Doing home repairs early on and staging your property can also improve its appeal to serious buyers.
5 Reasons That Tell You When It’s Time to Sell
A report from NAR said that the most commonly cited reasons for selling a home are moving closer to friends and family (18%), moving to a larger home (17%), and living in an undesirable neighborhood (11%). To save time and money, 90% of these homesellers have worked with a real estate agent.
If you’re still debating whether to sell your property or not, here are five reasons that tell you if you’re ready to move on to another home.
1. Your Home No Longer Fits Your Lifestyle
Most people choose a home and location based on the lifestyle they are living at the time, but this can change with age and circumstance. This is especially true when sellers live in their homes for an average of eight years before selling. For example, you may have chosen a smaller home in the city because it was located around restaurants, events, and bars that you frequented.
However, now you might crave more space and a quieter atmosphere than you originally had. Similarly, changes like marriage, the birth of a child, or the loss of a loved one can contribute to a lifestyle change. By selling your home and moving into a different location, you will be giving up your former lifestyle, but gaining a new one.
2. Financial Change
Financial changes are a common reason to sell your home. Maybe you or a significant other lost your job, and now you can no longer afford the home you have. Conversely, if you’re making more money at your job, you may want to upgrade to a more expensive home, closer to your financial tastes. No matter how much money you make, budget is always a consideration when selling or purchasing a home, and downsizing or upgrading is a widespread reason for selling.
In addition, there may be a financial change in the real estate market similar to the seller’s market seen throughout the pandemic until now. If there’s an opportunity to sell your home for top dollar, it may be wise to sell so you can get the most value and profit from your home.
3. New Job
About 37% of people said they would be willing to relocate for career advancement or the opportunity to make more money. While several companies have shifted to remote work since the pandemic, many jobs still require individuals to relocate to new cities, states, or even countries. For advancement opportunities that are worthwhile to your career, it can be great timing to sell your home and move to a new location.
While there is comfort in living in the same location for 10, 20, or 30 years, there can also be a sense of boredom that emerges. A survey found that 41% of people felt bored with their surroundings about a year after moving in. It also didn’t help that homeowners spent much of the past two years sequestered in their homes.
A way to combat boredom is by doing renovations and redecorating a home. Unfortunately, there is only so much a homeowner can improve before their home becomes overpriced for their current market, and they end up losing money if they continue upgrading. If you’re feeling this sense of boredom, it may be time to sell your home and start fresh somewhere else.
5. Emotionally Prepared to Move On
Being emotionally ready to move on is a common reason that retirees and empty-nesters decide to sell their family homes. In fact, in 2022, 48% of homesellers were aged 56 to 96 years old, with people aged 57 to 66 making up the second-largest group of sellers at 23%.
Very often, when individuals retire, or their children move out of the house, they prefer to downsize to save money or move to a location that is more appealing to their new lifestyles. This could mean moving into an apartment or condo that doesn’t have as much upkeep or taxes, a 55-plus community, a senior living facility, or even a new location that is better for hobbies and culture. Either way, if you’ve felt like you’ve emotionally outgrown your home, it may be time to sell and move on.
To see the best time to sell your home, update yourself with the 20 Most Crucial Real Estate Statistics for a better housing market outlook.
The best and worst time to sell a home depends on seasonal trends that could affect the home sale price. The best months to sell are during the spring season, which starts in March and runs until August. Because the demand is higher than the supply, home prices tend to go up and houses sell faster. Meanwhile, the worst time to sell your home is during the winter season, when potential buyers are busy with their holiday plans. These months yield lower sales proceeds and longer days on market for sellers.