Best Time of the Year to Sell a Home, 2023 Report
For many years I’ve been writing a report for the Portland real estate market that explains the best time to sell a home in our area. I do this annually because the seasonal impact on our real estate market is severe. Seasonal changes have an oversized impact on our housing market that seems muted in other locations around the country. Here in our metro, and likely in the surrounding Pacific Northwest, spring is the overwhelming best time of the year to sell and fall and winter is the worst. The difference between selling and buying in the spring vs. fall in the Portland market can average $100,000.
The Seasons Can Impact Your Home Price by 10% or More
The Portland real estate market, like all markets, is based on supply and demand. As a local Realtor, we get weekly buyer traffic reports and we have access to daily inventory reports. Those two numbers, by in large, determine the story on how our local real estate market is performing and whether it is favoring home buyers or home sellers at the moment. The spring real estate season (March – May) is defined by low inventory and high buyer traffic. The summer season (June – August) is defined by high buyer traffic and high inventory to match it. The fall season (September through November) is defined by medium buyer traffic and high inventory). The winter season (December through February) is defined by low buyer traffic matched with low inventory. One can easily see this by the year over year real estate inventory chart below for our metro area.
Now contrast the real estate inventory report above with the pending chart below. The pending chart is another way of representing buyer traffic during a particular month.
Best Time to Sell a Home – Month by Month Report
As you can see from the charts above, both inventory and buyer traffic (we have the actually numbers, just not in a handy chart format to share here) were low, as expected. Now, I fully expect the 2023 lines to follow the same patterns as the 2022 and 2021 lines above will (as the seasons have their effect). That means in Feb. (which I already know is happening) pending sales have increased slightly and so has inventory. Overall, Jan. always falls in the winter season, meaning relatively low inventory compared to the rest of the year and matching low buyer traffic. It is always possible to sell a home in Jan., it simply might take a while if the right buyer doesn’t come along. Generally speaking, it is a much better month to sell in than December of each year.
The real estate market typically starts showing signs of real life in Feb. and so it is again this year. When the reports come out (and they will soon) it will show a gain in pending sales and a smaller but modest gain in inventory count. Feb. is the best of the winter months, but isn’t as good as any of the spring months for sellers. I often recommend homeowners start their listings in Feb. if the outlook in there area looks good (let’s say there is nothing for sale – at all – that is comparable to their home).
Each year, March or April represent the peak selling season for the entire year. This doesn’t mean that the month has the highest selling prices of the year (if there is gradual appreciation over time) but this does mean it is the easiest time of the year to sell (low inventory and high buyer traffic) and has the most amount of bidding wars that sometimes do represent the highest sales prices in an area for the rest of that same year. The weather is improving in our area (typically) and real estate is in the air.
April is the only month that can beat March in terms of favorability for sellers, but it does depend on what is growing faster, is inventory growing faster or buyer traffic? In a slower real estate market (like all of 2023 will be), March might outperform April, if the buyer traffic can’t keep up with local inventory. Regardless of whether April turns out to be better than March, or March than April, one can be assured that April will perform better for sellers than the following months and seasons.
The only reason May typically never outperforms April or March is because inventory is typically streaking up, increasing dramatically week over week and is outpacing buyer traffic gains. Do not forget though that May is still in the overall spring season that will still favor sellers over buyers. Also getting started in May can mean slightly (and I mean slightly this year in 2023) higher prices, due to appreciation that occurred in March and April.
While buyer traffic is starting to hit its peak at this time, so is inventory. June is the best of the summer month seasons to sell a home. If it is a hot real estate year, June can still drastically favor sellers. But in a colder real estate year (like 2023) I’m expecting it to be a fairly balanced month. There is even a chance that prices could start dropping in June if inventory does exceed available buyer traffic. Only time will tell.
The first part of July can often be a reasonable time to sell with sometimes the half part of July getting tougher and starting to definitely favor buyers. I expect we will see price drops in July. Inventory will be high and will likely exceed buyer traffic. This doesn’t mean that one can’t sell a home in July or any other time of year, it simply means that those home owners and Realtors who overprice a property in July won’t have a chance of selling.
I’ll be honest and say that August is one of the toughest months to sell a home. Inventory is high, the weather is hot, and many people are on vacation. You can still sell in August, but be sure to price your home very competitively. Also, many of the buyers that wanted to purchase in summer before the next school season started have already purchased a home at this point.
With school starting and high inventory (often inventory peaks in September) this is another tough month to sell. Often because of school starting, the back half of September can be a little easier to sell in than the first half. The weather in September is usually decent, which helps some. The main issue with September is most years there is simply more inventory than available buyers. Some will sell, many homes will not.
Generally each year, October is better than September. Often inventory can start to taper off. The weather is still decent. People have settled into their fall routines. A new type of seasonal home buyer is hitting the market, one that wants to purchase and close on a home before the major holidays hit.
November is then typically better than October as inventory usually is now at a low or reasonable level and those buyers that want to purchase before the deep of winter and holiday season are ready to pull the trigger on their next home. The only weekend in November that is tough is Thanksgiving, typically buyer traffic drops off a cliff, but just for that weekend and immediate rebounds the following week.
No matter what other Realtors or industry professionals might say, December is a tough time to sell a home, as tough or tougher than August and September. Inventory is low, but once we get close to the Christmas season buy traffic comes virtually non-existent. Generally it is better to wait to list your home until Jan. hits and a new type of seasonal home buyer arrives, those that have decided they want to buy a home in the New Year.
Twenty Years Selling Homes in this Metro, Over 2,000 Sold
Stephen FitzMaurice would like to talk with you today about your home selling plans! Give his office a call at 503-714-1111 or chat with the bot on this site. His commission rate is more reasonable than average and he pays more to market his clients’ homes so they sell faster and for more. Customer service is his focus and he offers all of his clients cancel anytime contract for no charge. Talk with an expert today!February 20, 2023