Best Time to Sell a House in the Portland Market – 2018 Edition

best time to sell a home portland

The Portland real estate market has been improving since 2012. This will still be true in 2018. The predictions for the Portland housing market in 2018 call for around a 5% price increase. (See my in-depth 2018 housing forecast here.) Regardless of whether or not the Portland housing market is moving up or down, there is a best time of the year to sell and a best time to buy. As you might imagine those times are always the opposite of one another. My team helps someone buy or sell a home, on average, 4x a week in the Portland metro area. We have our finger on the Portland real estate market’s pulse. Keep reading to get our month by month breakdown of the best time to sell.

What are the primary factors to determine if it is a good time to sell a home?

  1. How many able and willing buyers are there right now?
  2. How many available homes are for sale?
  3. What is the current weather?
  4. What are Portlander’s up to?

I’m sure the first two points make plenty of sense, it is the basic supply vs. demand economic principle. And as a top local real estate agent I have constant access to both of those data points. These two factors drive the local real estate market. No other factors or data points matter to the same degree. The third point about Portland weather may initially sound strange, but it is a significant factor, I’ll address next. The final factor, what are Portlander’s doing right now? This refers to the impact of the school season, holidays, vacations plans and more. I’ll address this in the month to month breakdown.

Portland Weather can have a Dramatic Effect on your Home Sale

Good news first, a typical Portland overcast rainy day does not hurt your home sale. Some of the best months of the year to sell your home are filled with overcast drizzling days. Snow or sleet is a show stopper in Portland, as we all know if we’ve lived here any amount of time. The unusual, occasional heavy rainstorm can hurt the real estate market when it occurs. Extreme temperatures, incredibly cold days or incredibly hot days can also slow things down. The simple fact is, (and we are able to track buyer traffic across the board to all homes for sale in the metro) difficult weather means a tough few days or weeks to sell your home, but don’t be afraid of a little rain! I’ll address the weather more in the below month to month breakdown.

What is the best overall time to sell a home in Portland?

March through June. While reading the breakdown below, do not feel like you need to sell your home at the absolute best week of the year. Sure, if you can pick any time you’d like to sell, and nothing else matters, go ahead and pick the absolute best time. But, often life gets in the way. As long as you shoot for the best overall time to sell your home, or keep in mind the tips and tricks to sell your home in a more difficult month – you can sell your home anytime.

Sell your home in January?

PROS: The Portland real estate market comes back to life quickly after the absolute worst time to sell of the year – Christmas through New Years. Home inventory is incredibly low. If your neighborhood typically has a lot of available inventory for a buyer to choose from, then mid to late January can be a nice pick.
CONS: The first two weeks of January might have low inventory but they can have almost no available buyers. It takes a while for people to recover after the holidays and make new plans. At some point by mid-January or later buyer traffic can increase by 100% to 400%! Second, you are getting last years prices. Most of the appreciation for the real estate year occurs from Feb. through June. Third, the weather can be terrible! If the weather plays fair and we have light rain and overcast days – don’t worry! But if it snows or sleets or gets close to freezing, then the housing market will suffer.

Sell your home in February?

PROS: Housing inventory remains tight and buyer traffic has increased slightly from January. At this point in the year you may also start seeing prices rise for the first time (slightly) above last years prices. The vast majority of homes will sell quickly in Feb. as long as they are priced correctly. If you have a home that you imagine will take a while to sell, let’s say it is a luxury home worth over a million, or your home is very unique and unlike others in the area, or let’s say it is an extreme fixer, then Feb. might be the right month for you. Starting in Feb. will give homes that are likely to take a long time to sell an amazing advantage. You’ll have months of the best time of year to sell in front of you.
CONS: Bad weather can still strike, so keep an eye on the weather forecast. Try not to start the listing on a bad weather weekend. Also, if you have a home that you expect will sell quickly waiting longer will likely increase the price, since we are in the appreciation season of the local housing market.

Sell your home in March?

PROS: This is the start of the best overall season of the year to sell, March through June. Inventory is still low and buyer activity has picked up over Jan. and Feb. Multiple offer situations are common. Also, you have already collected a lot of the appreciation will occur for the entire year, as much as half the total. It is rare for there to be extreme weather in March.
CONS: If you wait a little longer the weather will improve even more and Portland gardens will start to come to life.

Sell your home in April?

PROS: The last couple of years I predicted May as the best month of the year to sell or at least early May. This year I’m putting all bets on April. The Portland real estate market is cooling and there will not be as many home buyers out there as in years past. So, when inventory goes up in May (as it typically starts to do) it could have a bigger impact this year than in years past. April is also amazing because the weather is typically good and mostly because Portland gardens come to life and flowers bloom. Multiple offer situations are common and spring is in the air.
CONS: None

Sell your home in May?

PROS: May has an awful lot going for it. The weather is amazing, the gardens are beautiful. Inventory is still low compared to summer months. Buyer traffic is at a frantic pace. Multiple offer situations are common. You have collected a little more appreciation in sales prices over April.
CONS: Inventory starts to increase significantly for the first time in the new calendar year. This can be especially true in the back half of the month.

Sell your home in June?

PROS: June is the last month in the overall best time of year to sell. Buyers are out in mass and home appreciation is still humming along. Price your home right and you’ll have a great experience in June.
CONS: While buyer traffic can increase slightly from May, home inventory increases even more. All of the families waiting for the school year to end put their homes on the market at roughly the same time. Thankfully, there are so many available buyers this does not keep June from being a great month to sell. Don’t overprice your home in June, the increased inventory could cause buyers to pass up your home, not even bothering to make a lower offer.
(I know, I don’t recommend anyone overprices their home any time of the year, but there are some months where it is worse to do this than others. Overpricing your home in low inventory months could lead to the occasional lucky home sale or at least a quick home sale once you drop your price to market acceptability. In a high inventory month, even after you drop your price to what it should have been, it can get skipped because home buyers are focusing on the homes that are new to the market and not the ones that have been sitting.)

Sell your home in July?

PROS: You can get the highest prices of the year due to appreciation from June. Inventory and buyer traffic are both high. As long as you keep your price within market expectations it is easy to sell.
CONS: Many home buyers want to purchase by July so they can move in before the school year starts (you have to add in a 30-45 day close). A lot of home buyers will not be around to purchase in August, they want to buy sooner than that to settle before school starts. So if you start your home sale in July, be sure to sell in July. The home needs to sell (ideally) before August. Also, the weather in July can actually have a negative impact at times due to potential extreme heat.

Sell your home in August?

PROS: If you start your home sale in early August, you may get lucky and experience all the joys of a Portland summer home sale.
CONS: Inventory can hit the highest levels of the year and buyer traffic drops. Remember the first two most important factors I wrote about above? It can surprise many homeowners how tough a month August can be to sell in. Again, as mentioned above, home buyers that wanted to move in before school starts already purchased in July. Also, most of Portland seems to take a summer vacation in August, your potential buyer may simply be out of town. Also, the Portland real estate market has slowly but surely collected all the inventory from homes that did not sell in the spring and summer and are still hanging on – trying to sell. Inventory is huge and there simply is not enough buyer traffic to keep up. If you need to sell your home in August, try to sell it early August and you might be lucky. If you need to sell mid to late August, you had best go with a conservative price tag. You will actually need to price your home a little lower than the competition, because – whether your competition realizes it or not – they, in large mass, are not going to sell. Also, prices, believe it or not, will dip in August.

Sell your home in September?

PROS: By late September the Portland real estate market is in better shape than that it was in August. The buyer pool has turned over and serious buyers planning on purchasing in the fall are out. Inventory drops from the August peak as sellers sell or finally give up after trying through the summer. The weather is typically moderate and won’t hurt the market. By late Sept. prices may have recovered from the August dip.
CONS: Inventory is still significant, despite the drop from August. You need to price conservatively to sell, but you can definitely sell by late Sept. if you are priced correctly. Don’t be afraid to sell.

Sell your home in October?

PROS: The market in October is pretty strong. Inventory has dropped further from Sept. Buyer traffic stays steady. Prices are back from the August dip and potentially even a touch higher. You’ve collected 100% of the price appreciation that will occur in the calendar year (because prices are about to go down in Nov. and Dec.). The weather is usually reasonable. A lot of homeowners have success in October. The month is a bright spot in the fall and winter selling season.
CONS: Once again, it is important to price conservatively because the worst time of the year to sell is coming.

Sell your home in November?

PROS: The first half of November can okay and is initially like the month of October with low inventory and reasonable buyer traffic.
CONS: A week to a few days before Thanksgiving the market drops significantly. Buyers stay home for the holiday season. Thanksgiving marks a turning point to the slowest selling time of the year. Weather can be good, but there is more risk in Nov. than previous months.

Sell your home in December?

PROS: Inventory is really low so there is a chance. Other than that, there are no pros.
CONS: Buyer traffic is incredibly low, especially starting a week before Christmas and through New Years. Unless you absolutely have to, do not try to sell your home in that window from a week before Christmas until a few days after the New Years. There is low inventory sure, but no buyers! Of course, weather can be a significant threat as well throughout the month of December.

Best time of the year summary

We help Portland homeowners sell throughout the year – and we’d love to help you! Regardless of the month you need to sell, we’ve got the right tools and advice you need to have a successful home selling experience. And as always, we run a pay less and get more model, where we charge a max of 4.25% commission but pay more to market our homes so they sell faster. We back it up with a cancel anytime policy for no charge and excellent customer service. Check out our hundreds of verified online reviews and numerous sales and customer service awards. I hope we can help you buy or sell your Portland home!

February 2, 2018

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
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