When is the best time to put your home on the market? Here's the short answer: by March 1st.
Each year the Madison real estate market quickly shifts from a buyer's market (in November and December) to a seller's market (in late winter and early spring). The graph below, which shows buyer activity by month, makes this abundantly clear. Although many local homes and condos sell each month, the house-hunting frenzy is strongest during the months of March, April and May. Now that we've made our way through the holiday season the market in early January is already heating up. We're seeing more showing activity right now than we did a month ago.
Madison Accepted Offers by Month - Homes and Condos
Why March 1st is a Great Time to List your Home
If you put your home on the market around March 1st, you'll be listing your home at a time when the buyers are already out in droves. You'll have relatively few competing listings to contend with because many sellers choose to list later in the year when the weather is warmer. Plus, listing your home in early March will give you some wiggle room to get your pricing right. If you do need to make a price adjustment, you'll have time to make your change while the market is still full of buyers.
If you choose to wait until May, you'll have many more competing listings at that time than in the month of March. Also be sure you get your pricing right, because buyer activity will begin to decrease shortly after you put your home up for sale.
More about Pricing in the Late Winter/Early Spring
Generally speaking you'll net the most at the closing table when you price your home properly from the start and without any price reductions. With that said, in some cases it's worth riding the momentum of the market and reaching for a price that is above what the recent sales in the area suggest. We call this "pricing on the leading edge" of the market. This can be an effective spring market tactic in popular neighborhoods where inventory is low and demand is very strong.
You and your agent will want to make an informed decision before you price on the leading edge. You'll want to take into account the months of inventory in your neighborhood, the pending sales in your area, the number of competing listings, and the likelihood that your property will appraise out at your price. Then once your home is on the MLS you'll want to make sure your buyer feedback and showing activity justify your price. If they suggest a price reduction, you should quickly adjust your price while the market is still full of buyers.
Photos in the Late Winter/Early Spring
Your curbside photo should reflect the current season so you always have the appearance of a "fresh" listing. If there is snow on the ground when you list your home, your exterior photo should have snow in it, too. Your agent can easily update your listing with a snow-free photo once all of the winter snow has melted.
Your agent can also supplement your marketing with summer photos that show your yard when it's in full bloom. He can do this in several different ways:
by including a few summer shots as the last photos in your listing
by displaying a portfolio of photos at your property
by adding electronic images to a rotating slide show at your home
No matter when you put your home up for sale, buyers should always have an opportunity to see pictures of your yard from the summer season.
You can't always control when you sell...
But your odds for achieving a quick sale and a high market price are excellent in the late winter and early spring. Every situation is different. Please feel free to contact us to discuss the unique circumstances of your sale. For related articles, check out these excellent posts by real estate agent Paul Sian and the Keeping Current Matters blog.
This article is published courtesy of: Dan Miller, REALTOR Mad City Dream Homes & RE/MAX Preferred