Best Time to Sell a House in the Portland Market, 2016 Edition

best time to sell a home

The Portland real estate market has been improving across the board since 2012. And since being licensed in 2003 I have witnessed consistent – predictable – seasonal changes to the market. The weather, holidays, yard appeal, and the school calendar all have a powerful impact on home selling expectations. In 2015 I sold 57 homes in their first weekend on market and 98 homes in less than 30 days on market, giving me a lot of personal data to go on, also I subscribe to the only unbiased official Portland real estate market report (and you can too for free here).

Are you ready? I’m going to explain the advantages and disadvantages of going on the market in any month of the year. Also, look for what I believe to be the absolute best time to sell a house in the Portland market, below.

Should I sell my home in January or February?

PROS: The market comes back to life after a stagnant holiday season each year. Inventory is incredibly low and buyer activity is low to moderate. Homes tend to sell fast and multiple offers are common. You can sell with confidence, but you can’t set a much higher price than what the market was justifying in the previous year (appraisal issues). If you’ve been waiting for the holiday season to pass and are looking for a quick sale at a decent price, this is a great time of year.

CONS: Weather is still poor. Chance of a heavy downpour or snowy weekend can reduce buyer activity on that vital first few days on market. You will get last year’s prices in January and slightly higher prices in Feb. You’ll miss out on a lot of upcoming appreciation (March – May).

Should I sell my home in March or April?

PROS: The market is stronger and you’ll have some beautiful stretches of weather increasing buyer activity. Multiple offers are almost the norm. Inventory is low (not quite as low as Jan. or Feb.) and buyer activity is now moderate. You can sell with confidence and hopeful expectation of wild price increases through multiple offer situations (more multiple offers collected than in Jan. or Feb.) You’ve already collected a lot of the appreciation that is going to happen in the year. Great time to sell.

CONS: Still possible to have bad weather stretches but not as common as Jan. – Feb. In March the yard appeal can still be poor, but that can change rapidly in April. Possibly missing out on the highest prices of the year (but not by much).

Should I sell my home in May?

PROS: Best time of the year to sell. Buyer activity is now high and inventory is still low. This creates the perfect storm for the seller. Multiple offers are absolutely normal. News outlets are pushing real estate market headlines this time of year. Yard appeal is fantastic. Weather is fantastic. You’ve collected the majority of the appreciation that is going to happen for the year, waiting further will make negligible difference.

CONS: None

Should I sell my home in June or July?

PROS: You have now hit the highest price point of the year. Buyer activity is high and inventory is now moderate or high. Inventory shoots up because school lets out and many sellers have the time and freedom to get their home ready for market. The market levels out in the summer at a high level that makes everyone happy. Weather is perfect for buyers (minus an exceptionally hot week or two). You can sell with confidence.

CONS: Inventory is no longer low. There is a small risk that your neighborhood will be over-saturated with inventory and your home could be missed in the pile and not sell right away, creating a situation that is not ideal for the seller. If you sell in July and your home does not sell quickly, it could still be on the market in August.

Should I sell my home in August?

PROS: If you put your home on the market in the first week of August, you can still experience all the joys of a hot summer real estate selling season. Weather is still good and yard appeal can stay strong (with effort). If you can sell right away, you’re still in good shape.

CONS: In 2015 prices actually dropped for a bit mid-August. We had a huge swell of inventory from home owners who had procrastinated over the summer and suddenly wanted to sell, and from home owners who falsely believed that August was a great time to sell after watching all the wonderful real estate activity in June and July. In previous years the market had not dropped until late August or early September, but there is a risk the market could drop again in 2016 as early as mid-August.

Should I sell my home in September or October?

PROS: The market is stable. Inventory is down, but so is buyer activity. Your home might not sell immediately in a multiple offer situation, but you can still get full price or close to it. The weather isn’t terrible and yard appeal can be okay. Overall, this is an okay time to sell.

CONS: Not a hot market and if the home does not sell quickly, things can get worse. I strongly warn my clients against pricing their homes too high this time of year. If they are priced right, they still have a high chance of selling for market price. If they overprice they won’t sell and quickly they will find themselves in the Nov. Dec. holiday market and have now set themselves up for long market times and no offers, in other words – a high chance of disappointment.

Should I sell my home in November or December?

PROS: Low inventory.

CONS: Low buyer activity. Bad weather. Bad yards. Holidays are in force. Early Nov. can be stable, but if you don’t sell before Thanksgiving hits, brace yourself. If you went on the market in Sept. or Oct. and haven’t sold by mid-November do yourself a favor and take your home off the market, then re-list in January when the market is alive again. December is the worst month of the year to sell. Consider putting up your home for a bit under market value if you need to sell quickly. Only because the real estate market is so strong in Portland right now can you actually expect to sell in Nov. Dec. If you price the home right (or even a bit under) and your home is in a good part of town, you can still sell – it is just in your best interest to wait until Jan. if you can.

Why write this article? I’m sick of all the real estate agents who have 10 reasons to sell your home in every month of the year as if they are all the same. Too many agents are not looking out for their client’s best interest. I want to inform my clients and help them make the best decision possible. If they are forced to move during the Christmas season (worst time of the year to sell) I will advise them as to the best possible course of action to deal with that market. If they can pick and choose what time of year they can sell, I’ll tell them the above information to help them make the best decision between moving when they want to move and getting the price they want to get.

I’m a listing specialist, it is all I do. If I can help you, let me know!

February 18, 2016
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.

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