It's a question I get all the time. I'd like to say the best time to sell is when you are ready! But if one is interested in the statistics regarding the timing of selling a home, then there are some things to consider.
In Chicago's North Shore communities of Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Northfield, and Glenview, there is a strong inclination to list homes in the spring. However, our "Spring" market actually can start as early as January, weather permitting. The number of homes listed in January of 2017 was 178, a huge increase over the 49 homes that were listed in the previous month of December 2016. The winter was mild enough to be favorable to the real estate market. Several years earlier after some heavy snowfall, homes were not routinely being listed until April.
Take a look at this chart that shows the number of homes being listed from November 2018 through November 2019:
Clearly, the month with the highest new listings was April 2019 with 264 new homes being listed in the North Shore villages of Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Glencoe, and Northfield. The end of the year has healthy numbers as well until it drops of in December.
Most sellers who have the time to wait prefer to list later in the spring when the snow and ice are gone and grasses, trees, and shrubs start to look alive again. Showings are easier and photographs are much prettier as well. But clearly, we also have hundreds of homes that are listed with snow - and if the house is still on the market several months later, those outdoor photos can easily be retaken.
One reason for the spring rush is the idea that parents of young children want to be settled in their new homes before school starts. If schooling is not high on your list of priorities then as a buyer you timetable to purchase is much wider. It's also important to know that local schools will allow you to send your children to school if you have a valid contract that shows you've purchased in the school district. So even if you don't close until November, you children can start school when it opens.
But what about if you're not ready to sell in the spring? You have several choices - wait until spring to list or go ahead and list in the fall and take advantage of the changing season and forthcoming holidays. Yes, your house might be on the market over the holidays -but homes show well when they are decorated and smelling of pine or cinnamon. Those are pleasant takeaways for buyers.
The biggest difference between the spring and fall markets is this:
- more homes coming on the market
- more buyers are looking
- more competition
- fewer homes coming on the market
- fewer buyers out looking to purchase
- less competition
Ultimately, it may not make much difference when you decide to list your home. Twenty buyers looking at 15 homes in the spring vs. 5 buyers looking at 3 homes in the fall is pretty much the same thing. And if you're wondering about the difference in price - you can see from the chart above that November of 2016 had the 3rd highest average sale price.
It really does make sense to list your house for sale when you are ready - you've decluttered, packed away or disposed of excess items, and staged and cleaned your home. You're ready when you're ready. Whether your goal is the spring market or another time of year, give yourself several months (6-12 is best) to get the work done so it's not a huge crush for you. Then you can confidently list your home for sale regardless of the time of year.
While you're here, please see ALL NORTH SHORE HOMES FOR SALE
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Margaret Goss is a full-time real estate broker since 1998 working in the North Shore communities of Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Northfield, Glenview, and Evanston.
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