For Homeowners, When to List Can Bring Bigger Payoff

Mike Sorohan msorohan@mba.org

February 21, 2019

Is there a "sweet spot" for home sellers this spring? According to Zillow, the answer is "early May."

A new Zillow analysis finds homes listed in the first half of May sell for a premium--$1,600--and nearly a week faster. In 19 of the 35 largest metros, the best month to sell for the biggest sales premium is May.

"Sellers time their listings to optimize their sale in all sorts of ways," said Skylar Olsen, Zillow Director of Economic Research and Outreach. "Some need to time the sale just right to manage their own synchronized home purchase. Others are seeking to get the highest sale price possible. Balancing these two common priorities suggests that an early May listing date is your best bet."

Olsen added, however, that working with an agent who can weigh the local market and the seller's unique priorities is still the best advice. The analysis noted the best time to list a home varies by market, and could be impacted by local market dynamics or even weather patterns. The earliest is in Pittsburgh, where the "magic window" is the second half of March, while a handful of markets don't hit the prime listing time until the first two weeks of July.

Olsen said early signals for the 2019 housing market suggest the balance is tilting toward buyers, as inventory is showing modest gains and appreciation is stabilizing or slowing in some of the previously hottest markets. "As the market shifts, it's increasingly important for sellers to understand what's happening in their market as they approach the home shopping season," she said. "Sellers with the freedom to choose when to sell their home may be able to earn an extra boost by listing at the right time."

Zillow said the biggest premium for timing a listing is in Minneapolis, where homes listed in the first half of May sold for a 1.8 percent premium--that translates to an extra $4,900 on the sale. Sellers in Austin and Miami, on the other hand, saw the smallest sales premiums; in those markets, listing during the "magic window" gained sellers a 0.5 percent premium, or $1,400.

In Cleveland, sellers who list their homes in the first half of May could see their homes sell nearly two weeks faster than the typical home. In Las Vegas, when a home is listed has little impact on how quickly it sells. Homes listed during the ideal window in early July sold just half a day faster.

Zillow also found the day a home is listed can also affect how many potential buyers see it, as the majority of home shoppers (79 percent) use online resources during their search, according to the 2018 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report. Homes listed on Saturdays get the most page views in the first week and 20 percent more views than homes listed on Tuesdays, which get the fewest page views.

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