Best Time of the Year to Sell a Home

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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 update this report annually because the seasonal impact on our real estate market is severe. Seasonal changes have an oversized impact on our housing market that can be 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.

I keep a close eye on the greater Portland real estate market, writing in-depth monthly real estate reports on how the market is performing. This reporting has made our local seasonal trends more than obvious to me over time, in addition to my 20+ years of experience selling homes locally.

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 local Realtors, we get weekly home buyer traffic reports (if you want to see month by month buyer traffic numbers, check out our local monthly real estate 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. Chart below updated 12/2023.

Portland Real Estate Inventory Chart from RMLS

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. Chart below updated 12/2023.

Best Time to Sell a Home – Explained on YouTube

Best time to sell a home

Best Time to Sell a Home – Month by Month Report

Chart Ranking All 12 Months of the Year, According to Best Month to Sell a Home

Best Month to Sell a Home
1. March7. July
2. April8. November
3. May9. October
4. June10. September
5. February 11. August
6. January12. December

January (Ranked 6 out of 12)

As you can see from the charts above, inventory and pending sales are low each January, as expected. And as mentioned previously, a local real estate market is best defined as supply vs. demand. This means that in January when buyer traffic is low, but inventory is also low – homes are still selling. The market is fairly balanced in January from a seasonal perspective. December has the advantage of wiping out much of the inventory (with the major holidays) before January hits. There is also a New Years resolution effect. Many people think about buying homes again during this time and some buy faster than they think they will. Even with the low inventory, sometimes it can take a while to sell a home in January as there are not a lot of buyers and it simply may be the case that the right buyer match for a home won’t come along in this slower month. January is a great month to sell a home if you have a luxury or niche property that you already know will take some time to sell. The reason for this is simple, the market will get better and better as we move forward into the year (until we hit July), so you’re giving yourself the majority of the best months to sell a home by starting Jan.

February (Ranked 5 out of 12)

February is a good time to sell a home, mostly because March follows it. If you don’t manage to sell in Feb. you still have the best time of the year upcoming and soon. As you can see from the charts above, the real estate market in Feb. performs very similarly to January. The market maintains low inventory with low buyer traffic on the whole. I often recommend homeowners start their listings in Feb. if the outlook in their area looks good (let’s say there is nothing for sale – at all – that is comparable to their home).

March (Ranked 1 out of 12)

The weather is rapidly improving in our area (typically) and real estate is in the air as the amount of daylight we get each day increases, and many gardens start to bloom. Each year, March and April represent the peak selling season for the entire year. This doesn’t mean that March or April has the highest selling prices of the year (there is gradual appreciation coming over the spring season), but this does mean it is the easiest time of the year to sell (low inventory and high buyer traffic). This low inventory and high buyer traffic also produces the highest amount of bidding wars for the year (that sometimes do represent the highest sales prices in an area for the rest of the year, if the bidding gets crazy enough). In March or April it is important to watch out for Easter weekend, generally not a good time to start a listing.

I rank March over April, but just barely. They are pretty equal in months. In many years the absolute best week to sell a home in the year ended up being either one of the last two weeks in March or one of the first two weeks in April. Another reason I rank March above April is because March is followed by April. It gives the home the best two month out of the year to sell in.

April (Ranked 2 out of 12)

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 is buyer traffic? In a slower real estate market, March might outperform April (it did in 2023, but April outperformed March in 2022). In a slower market March is often the peak because of the lower inventory (usually slightly lower than April’s). In a hotter market April is often the peak because of higher buyer traffic (usually slightly higher than March’s). The better weather and brighter days really ramps up buyer traffic fast in April.

May (Ranked 3 out of 12)

The only reason May generally 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 favor sellers over buyers. Also getting started in May can mean slightly higher prices in a slower market, and significantly higher prices in a hot market, due to appreciation that occurred in March and April. In May, don’t worry about Memorial Day, but generally it is not advisable to start a listing over Mothers Day.

June (Ranked 4 out of 12)

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. June can often represent the highest prices of the year due to appreciation gained March – May. But June does not have the bidding wars those three months provided, and if your home doesn’t stand out, it can get lost in the June inventory. If your home doesn’t sell in June, it is going to be a lot harder for you to sell in July.

If it is a hot real estate year, June can still drastically favor sellers. But in a colder real estate year (like 2023 was) it can be a fairly balanced month. Don’t worry about starting a listing over Fathers Day. Time is of the essence. July is much worse than June and it is important to start your listing as soon as possible.

July (Ranked 7 out of 12)

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. (We saw price drops in 2023 in July and in previous years.) 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 homeowners and Realtors who overprice a property in July won’t have a chance of selling. If July 4th, or Independence Day lands close to a weekend, be sure not to start a listing over that weekend. Home buyers purchase faster than most expect, picking up their homes in spring. July never performs the way many homeowners think it will, and certainly does not perform as well as March – June did. If you need to start a listing in July, we recommend starting with an attractive price that stands out. August is much worse than July.

August (Ranked 11 out of 12)

I’ll be honest and say that August is one of the toughest months of the year 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. The average time to close is around 35 days, which means if a home buyer wanted to complete a purchase before the next school season started they have already done so. Even in hot years like 2021, the market dipped in August and favored buyers.

September (Ranked 10 out of 12)

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. Don’t worry about listing a home over Labor Day. In hot years September can be okay, but in slow years (like 2023), it is a very difficult month to sell in.

October (Ranked 9 out of 12)

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. If Halloween falls on or near a weekend, don’t start a new listing that week. In hot years, October is better than September with inventory falling and those last minute home buyers closing on deals before the major holidays roll around. In cold years (like 2023) inventory can linger and still make October a tough month to move a property.

November (Ranked 8 out of 12)

November is then typically better than October as inventory usually is now at a lower 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. In hot years, homes can fly off the handle in November (like 2016, 2020, 2021). In slow years (like 2023) lingering inventory can make things tough, but November is usually still better than August through October.

December (Ranked 12 out of 12)

No matter what other Realtors or industry professionals might say, December is a tough time to sell a home, tougher than August and September. Inventory is low, but as we enter the Christmas season buyer traffic becomes virtually non-existent. Generally it is better to wait to list your home until January hits and a new type of seasonal home buyer arrives, those that have decided they want to buy a home in the New Year.

Work with a Local Expert – Over 2,000 Homes Sold

Stephen FitzMaurice would like to talk with you about your home selling plans. His commission rate is more reasonable than average and he pays more to market his clients’ homes, so they sell faster and for more. He has extensive experience selling homes in all markets and in all times of year. Customer service is his focus and he backs up his services with cancel anytime contracts for no charge. It is never too early to get real estate advice. Give his office a call at 503-714-1111 or chat with the bot on this site. We’d love to connect today!

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