List Today? Or Wait Till Jan or Spring? Debate!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Northern Virginia Homes - FRANKLY REAL ESTATE Inc

This is part 2 to my: Current Sellers "Wait Till Spring"? Yeah Right. Lose $10,000.

Which focuses on sellers that put their home on the market around September and whether they are better off trying to get a deal done in December, vs waiting until Spring to get a higher price. My data showed that they got $10,000 LOWER if they waited until Spring.

The question that I still have is:

If you are considering Listing TODAY, are you better off waiting until January 1st or Feb 1st to list your house?


  1. Inventory is lower, less to choose from.
  2. Everything seems stale and leftover. Maybe put a hot listing on, and those that are actively looking will jump on it, even in December?


  1. Fewer buyers. There are 2x the # of buyers in Jan Vs Dec.
  2. Google: MLS HOMES
  3. The more Days on the Market, the lower the price tends to go. You have a better chance for selling your house the first week it is listed, especially if you can get 2 interested parties.
  4. A TON MORE LISTINGS. Yes there is more demand (buyers) but there is a TON MORE SUPPLY.

So how would somebody run the numbers on this? Maybe look at homes with 20-30 DOM that go under contract in Dec vs those that are 20-30 DOM that were listed in Jan and compare % of list? Or maybe the Median "% of List price" for homes that are listed in Dec vs Jan?

Help. If your mother's listing (you should treat every listing like it was a family member) was fully staged and ready to go, would you list it in Dec or wait until Jan? This home is in North Arlington, so there aren't many foreclosures to compete against.


P.s. I'd like to get this question out there. If you like it, hit the red flag and ask for it to be featured.

Update: I ran some numbers.

I looked at all homes in Arlington that were listed on 12-1-06 through 12-10-06 (Dec Listed) and compared how they did to listings that were put on the market 1-1-07 through 1-10-07 (Jan Listed), this is what I found:

# Homes DOM % of List Contract in 2 weeks Median Price
Dec Listed 50 43 96.7 24% $440k
Jan Listed 61 28 97% 33% $544k
This shows me:
  • There are 20% more new listings in Jan vs Dec. (vs 100% more traffic from buyers)
  • Homes sold 30% faster in Jan
  • Homes listed in January were 40% MORE likely to sell within 2 weeks.
  • BUT The actual % of Original Price was only .3% difference ($1,500 on a $500k place).
  • The Median price was $100k off, that doesn't mean homes went up 20%, just the type of home was a little different. I pretty much ignored that number.
Based on these numbers, with most weight placed on the % of list, I think it doesn't really matter when you list it. Supply and demand already works itself out (ie more buyers and more listings).

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Folks that try to time a real estate listing are like a guy on his Honeymoon trying to time. .. . . . .


Nov 25, 2007 11:28 AM #1
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

I don't know why folks try to delay listing a home.  What's another month on the market.  DOM are running 3-4 months anyway.

Seems to me that in a falling market, one would want to get listed as quickly as possible.  For one thing, buyers out in the market in December are serious serious buyers. 

What are they waiting for?  The Spring rush????  What if they wait until Spring and there's no rush????

What ever you do, if it doesn't sell quickly, it will be your fault.

Nov 25, 2007 11:33 AM #2
Pat Emmett
Prudential Palms Realty - Sarasota, FL

Frank, that's a regional question, I think....In South Florida, our season starts around January, so we sure want sellers to get going by Jan. at the latest.    (especially this year!)   Pat


Nov 25, 2007 11:39 AM #3
Greg Fox
Realty World Wichita - Wichita, KS
Techy Broker in Wichita Kansas
I've run several studies that compare the number of closings per month as a percentage of the over all market.  Dec is the lowest, but Jan and Feb aren't that far behind it.  The next problem you may have isn't really about the dollars, but more about the traffic.  We have a great traffic increase at the start of Dec, trails off after about a week, and starts up again after Christmas.  I don't think DOM will affect the price as much in the early part of the year.  Traffic now can result in a sale later, and with good pricing/comps the price should be fine. 
Nov 25, 2007 11:52 AM #4
Melissa Wagner
Leo Parker Real Estate & Auction - Woodbury, TN
Frank, I for one say if you want to sell your house... list it now and don't delay. I have a couple of very serious buyers right now that oddly enough with the market being as bad as everyone says it is, you would think finding them the home they are looking for would be easy but it is not. I would love to see some new properties come on the market in our area fitting their criteria. I am currently working on contacting owners who have what we are looking for that I know have shown an interest in possibly selling later to get what we are needing for my buyers. Those holding on to their homes for spring are missing out on the benefit of the more serious buyers who are ready to buy now.
Nov 25, 2007 12:29 PM #5
Jackie Peraza
Perceptions AdverStaging(TM), LLC - Framingham, MA
Home Stager - Framingham, Massachusetts

Frank- ahem...OK, I've collected my thoughts after Lenn's initial comment....Fully staged and ready to go?  List it now of course!  Anyone looking for a house in December is either dead on serious looking for a new home or scoping for Holiday gifts - if the property has been staged well, they'll not be finding many of the gifts laying about...


Nov 25, 2007 04:00 PM #6
Kevin McGrath
Long & Foster Real Estate Companies- Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania - Fredericksburg, VA
Long & Foster Real Estate Companies
I say list it now - you can not time this market.
Nov 25, 2007 09:54 PM #7
Katie Wethman
Keller Williams - Falls Church, VA
CPA, MBA, Realtor - Northern Virginia & DC Real Estate

What about a combination strategy...assuming the highest chance of selling is in the first few weeks (makes sense)...list for 6 months with a stipulation that 1 month is now (and advertise as such), then tempoff for a few months?

I would think that in any analysis you'd need to look at the chance that it wouldn't sell in the slower period, rather than just looking at those that did.  So the first question is not 'how much more will you get if it sells now' but rather 'what are the chances it WILL it sell now'.  

I'd love to also see the related question addressed--what if the listing is up for renewal TODAY after it's been on for 4 months already (let's assume it's priced competitively and/or the seller cannot go any lower)?  Would you pull it off and wait til January or even later?   e.g., PRO - more serious buyers in winter, CON - continues to increase DOM, etc.  Is the small chance of finding a buyer worth the risk of sitting til spring with a DOM that's twice as high? 


Good questions, Frank.  Looking forward to reading more about this.  

Nov 26, 2007 04:12 AM #8
FRANK LL0SA Esq.- Northern Virginia Broker .:.
Northern Virginia Homes - FRANKLY REAL ESTATE Inc - Arlington, VA

Hey Katie,

In regards to the, "if it was up for renewal" question, I take that the same as "putting it temporarily off" with an active listing.

I wouldn't do that. My main question here is about the WOW factor for the first 2 weeks of a listing. You only get one chance for that. I also remember helping a client buy in Dec and somebody put their listing "temp off" and they missed the sale. It cost them $20k since the other house closed lower so they had to drop their list.

So I reran some numbers and looked at homes listed in the first ten days of Dec vs the first 10 days of Jan. Come back to the post to see the results.


Nov 26, 2007 08:29 AM #9
Nancy Pav
Century 21 Redwood Realty - Ashburn, VA
Nancy Pav, Your "GottaHave" Realtor


I know that Arlington is different than Loudoun but we often see agents put into their new homes sales into MRIS at the end of the year and sometimes in January vs when they actually sold it which skews the prices...have you taken that into consideration? 

Nov 26, 2007 11:19 AM #10
FRANK LL0SA Esq.- Northern Virginia Broker .:.
Northern Virginia Homes - FRANKLY REAL ESTATE Inc - Arlington, VA
Good thinking. Yep, I removed all 0 DOM listings
Nov 26, 2007 11:42 AM #11
Tchaka Owen
Galleria International Realty - Hollywood, FL
Wow, this is good stuff Frank.  I must tell you that I'm shocked at the results in terms of DOM being shorter - I would have put money on December being a better month than January.  The price does make sense because some people are eager to sell for tax reasons.
Nov 26, 2007 04:11 PM #12
FRANK LL0SA Esq.- Northern Virginia Broker .:.
Northern Virginia Homes - FRANKLY REAL ESTATE Inc - Arlington, VA

Hey Tchaka,

With the Holidays, people aren't thinking about a new home. Who wants to move in during Christmas?

The GOogle results make me believe that there are twice the number of lookers in Jan. But there is something to be said about Dec buyers being real buyers, and not look lookers.

I hadn't thought of the tax reasons. Usually sellers want to DELAY taxes and sell in the new year. But then again, this year that will cost them $2,000 more.



Nov 26, 2007 04:19 PM #13
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