Best Time to Sell a House in the Portland Market – 2017 Edition

best time to sell a home in portland

The Portland metro real estate market has been improving across the board since 2012. I’ve been selling homes in the Portland area since 2003 and have noticed the same seasonal trends, year after year. There is a best time to sell a home, and there is a best time to buy a home in the Portland real estate market each year. The best time to sell is always the opposite of the best time to buy and vice versa. So, if you are selling and buying at the same time in the same area, it is hard to get much advantage (though you could get some, if you timed it just right). Just to give you an idea of the level of experience I’m bringing to the table, in 2016 I sold more homes than anyone else in the metro area. 151 homes in less than 30 days on market including 81 homes sold in their first weekend on market (in multiple offer situations). My team sells and / or helps someone buy a home in the Portland metro multiple times each week.

GOLDEN RULE: Before you dive into the monthly breakdown, here is the guiding principle I’ve found holds true in every market. There are two pieces of data you must know in order to understand market conditions. 1. How many willing and able buyers want to purchase right now? 2. How many homes are available? One piece of information without contrasting it with the other tells you very little. This is not, how many people want to buy or how many people want to sell, this is capable determined buyers contrasted with homes actually for sale. Real estate agents, the ones that pay attention, have access to these exact numbers at any given time.

What month should I sell my home?

Are you ready? Below I’m going to break down, month to month, the best time to sell a home in 2017 (the inverse would be the best time to buy a home). This cycle has been true for Portland real estate in any increasing market year (which we’ve had since 2012 at this point). It will be the same for this year. How much will home prices increase this year in Portland? That question is not answered in this article, but you can find my full 2017 Portland real estate market prediction here.

January

PROS: The market comes back to life after a dead holiday season (we will explain that in more detail later). Inventory is extremely low. Buyer traffic is strong enough to match inventory, so bottom line, it is not hard to sell a home. Most homes that go on the market in January sell in January. If you have been holding out waiting for the holidays to pass before selling your home, the good news is, it is easy in mid to late January where it is extremely tough in Dec.

CONS: First, weather is still poor. You could have a snowstorm (we did)! Bad weather equals less buyer traffic for your home. Always. We cannot predict the weather, but we do know what months are more likely to have trouble and Jan. is toward the top of that list. Second, you get last year’s prices. Appreciation for the new year starts collecting by mid-Jan. Do not list your home the first week of Jan., that is still in the holiday hangover period and there are not many buyers available. The number of able and willing buyers skyrockets from the dead holiday season by mid-Jan. Third, you’ll miss that upcoming appreciation. The bulk of the appreciation for the year occurs between Jan. and the end of May.

February

PROS: Inventory remains tight with enough able buyers to meet demand. Most homes that go on the market in Feb. sell in Feb. Plus, every home should be selling for slightly more than homes sold for in the previous year. You’ve now collected some appreciation, maybe a few percentage points.

CONS: First, bad weather can still strike at any time, though the chances are reduced from Jan. Why is weather so important? About half of our homes sell in the first few days in a multiple offer situation. Guess what happens if there is freezing rain or snow during those first few days? Well, you probably missed your only chance at multiple offers. Typically a home will either go multiple offer in its first few days on market or it won’t go at all. Second, while you’ve collected some of the year’s appreciation, probably not the bulk and waiting a few more months could bring in much more.

March

PROS: As with any homes that go for sale in this general period of the year, what goes up in March, the vast majority of the time, will sell in March. Also you have now collected a good amount of the appreciation that will happen for the entire year – as much as half of the total appreciation for the year has already occurred! Also, the weather is better and some days will be beautiful. Able and willing buyers have now greatly exceeded the available inventory and multiple offer situations are plentiful!

CONS: Very few cons to selling in March. It is a wonderful time, a safe time to sell. Much smaller chance of bad weather, but there is some.

April and May

PROS: Last year, 2016, I predicted May as the absolutely best month of the year to sell and I was awfully close. In 2016, late April to early May was the best time of the whole year to sell a home. This will hold true in 2017 as well, for a number of reasons. April or May will be the best time of year to sell, most likely beginning at the end of April. Here’s why: the weather is beautiful. Lawns and gardens are in bloom. Inventory is still tight, but now willing and able buyers overwhelm inventory in numbers that will not occur again in the same calendar year. More multiple offer situations will occur in this time frame than any other. This is because of the GOLDEN RULE mentioned above, at no time is the ratio of willing and able buyers to available homes for sale as strong, as disparate. It is this time of year that the news reports start rolling out telling the public how bonkers the Portland real estate market is. Further, you have collected the majority of appreciation that is going to occur for the calendar year, say at least 2/3rds of it, with the chance of a record breaking sale for the entire calendar year due to extreme multiple offer situations (this is not true in every part of town, but in the hotter areas – we can let you know).

CONS: None

June

PROS: You’ve collected even more appreciation than in April or May, say 80 to 90% of what will occur for the year. Buyer activity remains high. As is true since January, any home that goes up for sale will most likely sell in the same month.

CONS: Inventory goes up, a lot. Inventory Jan. through May (or at least the first part of May) is consistently, incredibly low. All of that changes in June. School is out, or will soon be out, and many families are looking to sell and then buy over the summer period. This leads to a rush of inventory all at once. Now, the buyer activity is still high, very high, so most everything sells. However, there is a risk that your home will not sell because it goes lost in a pile of inventory in your neighborhood or greater surrounding area.

July

PROS: You’ve now collected 90 to 95% of the appreciation that is going to occur in a calendar year. Almost every home that goes for sale will sell.

CONS: The market will slow down in August. This means that you had better sell in July. When someone lists a home in the spring they have a huge cushion of time to sell. If at first they don’t sell – no worries, the Portland real estate market is going to get better and better as they move forward. If you don’t sell in July, you have a reason to worry as the market is going to get tougher. So go ahead and sell in July, but maybe don’t pick the highest possible price, pick one that you and your real estate agent is confident will bring a buyer in July (or at least by early Aug.).

August

PROS: If you put your home up for sale in the first week or so of August, you may get lucky and experience all the joys of a quick and easy Portland summer sale. Weather is good and yard appeal stays strong (with some tending).

CONS: Inventory can hit a high water mark by the end of the month. Buyer traffic drops. Inventory hits a high water mark for two reasons: 1. All the homes that didn’t sell over spring and summer are still sitting on the market waiting for a buyer, waiting until summer ends to give up. There is a huge collection of these homes sitting there cluttering up the buyers options. 2. Inventory increases because a number of home sellers procrastinate. They “know” summer is a good time to sell but they’ve spent most of the summer months getting the home ready. Now they are finally ready and don’t realize it is no longer a great time to sell. Homes hit the market at a rapid pace and add to a growing glut of inventory.

Buyer traffic drops. In 2016 it took an average (for the metro) of 45 days or so to close a transaction. In 2017 many predict it will take an average of 50 days to close a transaction. There are a ton of buyers who try to buy and move in before the school year starts. So, they already bought in July. Also, many people in the Portland area like to take vacations in August and are simply gone.

Bottom line, if you need to sell your home in August, try to do so in the first week. If you need to sell your home in late August, be reasonable with your pricing and you can still sell. Any home can sell right away, regardless of how much inventory it is competing with, it just depends on price. You may have to put a bit of a cold towel on your pricing expectations and trust your real estate agent’s advice (hopefully they are advising correctly and not simply caught up in the joys of an easy summer selling period).

September

PROS: Believe it or not, it is easier to sell a home in the last half of September than in late August. There is a big lull in the market that runs from the last half of August into the first half of September (as school starts). After mid-Sept. the market stabilizes. Inventory goes back down to moderate levels and buyer activity remains moderate. This is not the best time to sell and it is not the worst time to sell. It is simply okay. There will not be as many multiple offer situations, but they still occur. The weather for the most part will be fine.

CONS: The first half of September isn’t great for reasons already mentioned. The second half of September is fine. There are few cons to selling in late September other than the fact it is not late winter, spring, or summer. Those three seasons are the best for the Portland real estate market, and the fall and winter market are not. If you do not carefully price your home in Sept., it may not sell. At the same time, if you put up a reasonable price, it probably will and it shouldn’t take that long.

October

PROS: You’ve now likely collected 100% of the appreciation that is going to occur in the calendar year. Prices skyrocketed in the late winter, and spring. Then they rose slowly over the summer. They may have actually dipped in late August, then recovered in Sept. Finally they increased their last little bit in October before the holidays put an end to the party. The market is still stable. Inventory is moderate and that matches the buyer activity. If you price your home conservatively, it should have no problem selling.

CONS: Time is almost up! The Portland real estate market in Nov. and Dec. is not good. Make sure to price the home to sell.

November

PROS: The first half of November isn’t terrible (before Thanksgiving hits). Inventory drops from October which is good, but buyer activity also drops. So, the market is still relatively stable in the first half of the month, but the end looms like a dark cloud (literally).

CONS: Time is unreasonably short. It is awfully hard to count on selling a home in a lackluster market in less than two weeks (before Thanksgiving rolls around). We do manage to sell homes in this period, but it is taking a risk that the home won’t sell right away and you’ll find yourself in a difficult time of year. The back half of November is not good. Buyer traffic takes a nose dive and is well below the low inventory mark. Low inventory doesn’t matter if there are not any able and willing buyers to purchase. In the back half of November we often counsel our clients to wait until Jan. or later of the following year to list their home.

December

PROS: Almost none. Unless you have to sell, you should wait to list your home until mid-Jan. There is some hope you can sell in early Dec. in-between Thanksgiving in Christmas, but not a lot.
CONS: Bad weather. No one wants to buy around the holidays. Bad traffic. It gets dark early. Low inventory but the fewest number of able and willing buyers of the year makes it a mute point.

Summary

We help Portlanders sell every month of the year – and we’d love to help you! We charge less than most, 4.5% max. and pay more to market our homes so they sell faster and for more money. No matter what time of year it is, we know what to do. We also know when to recommend – based on your goals – that you wait to pull the trigger.

February 14, 2017
AUTHOR

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales in the Portland Metro area. Call him direct: 503-714-1111.

Pay less (4.5% commission max.) and get more with his top 1% listing team or buy your next home with his excellent top 1% buyer’s team. We work from Salem, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington and beyond. Check out our full services areas on the top menu.