This is a question we often hear and the answer depends on the individual homeowner circumstances and objectives. Quite often the “best time to list” discussion is determined by other factors but here are a few items to consider in a listing and timing strategy:
Spring is King:
The April through June period is by far our busiest sales time here in Ottawa and our ratio of new listings to sales is also strongest during these months. Competition is also the heaviest then as well, so sellers with overpriced listings may not realize it until it is too late to react to market feedback.
February-March are great lead in months:
Open houses are full of buyers in February and March, so this can be a good time to be listing also. If buyer feedback suggests listing tweaks there is time to adjust before peak sales season.
Don’t avoid listing in Summer!
Contrary to real estate myth, the 2nd best selling season is July-September based on monthly sales. While one often hears that “real estate is dead” in the summer and “things pick up in the Fall/after Labour Day” this is totally inaccurate when one looks at monthly unit sales history. So don’t avoid listing in July or August, because of this Realtor equivalent of an old wives tale.
Listing timeline most often tied to purchase:
Quite often the listing timelines are dictated by when one can find their “dream home”. This can rarely be preplanned, as it is subject to the whim of what becomes available on the market and a buyer being able to successfully secure a purchase on that property.
A key issue in the purchase of a property is always the sellers’ timeline and desired closing date, so one cannot always pick when their new home will be available.
Resale property vs new construction:
Resale properties are typically available within a 45-60 closing time frame. New construction is typically much longer (except for inventory homes or model home sales) with 4-6 month lead times or longer. This can especially complicate listing timing for a new built home that is going to close in January-March which means selling an existing home later in the year which is the slower time for the resale market.
How long will it take to sell my existing property?
Most are enthusiastic and assume their palace will sell very quickly and at the price they expect and plan for. This is quite often not the case, unfortunately. Just over 40% of new listings sold on the Ottawa real estate board during 2016-so a fast sale is by no means guaranteed. In fact, the average residential property took 56 days on the market to sell in 2016 and the average condo 70 days.
What are the competitive issues that will affect my sale?
The level of competitive listing activity from resale homes and new construction will vary by area and time of year but obviously have a huge effect on when and whether to list. Overall inventory levels have come down quite a bit over the last year, so this may be a pretty good year to list compared to previous years, assuming we continue to see the slightly better demand level we experienced in 2016.
Can I list my property now for a closing in 6 or 8 months?
Most resale properties close within 45-90 days of a sale on average, so by trying to listing for a much longer closing, one is decreasing the number of potential buyers and hence demand and possibly market value.
How do I “time” the market?
If peak sales are April-June, does this mean one should list in April? Or get a head start by listing in March? Most properties look their best in mid-May or June, once leaves are back on the trees and gardens start to bloom, but is this too late to be listing?
If one thinks in competitive terms: the first person to list has the advantage of being available to buyers in the market at that time but also has the disadvantage that those listing later will be able to price their listings knowing the listing price of the earlier listing.
Do I sell first or buy first?
Age old question which varies with buyer circumstances and both have their pros and cons. A high % of buyers with existing homes typically find their new dream home first and then put the existing property on the market but it is not unusual for someone to sell first, particularly if planning to buy in a high neighbourhood.
There are many factors which affect the timing and marketing of a property and a Realtor is best equipped to consult on all factors specific to an individual property and neighbourhood.
Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
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