Timing is everything when listing your home for sale

Chris von Trapp, Hickok and Boardman, Realtor

As one of the top listing agents for the Charlotte real estate market, a common question I hear from home owners at this time of year is “Is this is a good time to sell?” The general impression is that more houses sell in the spring, when the grass is green and flowers are in bloom. Unfortunately, in Vermont, that’s the middle of May, and if you wait until then, fully a third to a half of the sales for the year will already be under contract! The longer you wait in the year, the less the chance that you will sell.

With the largest number of sales historically closing in May and June, your home needs to be actively on the market, ideally, by March 1, in order for you to participate in the busiest sales period. And don’t worry about having to move in the middle of winter. If financing is involved in the transaction, it will typically be 45 to 60 days until the buyer is ready to close. So if you listed your home by Feb. 1 and received an acceptable offer in 30 days, you would not be physically moving until the middle of April or the first week in May.

Another important consideration is that preparation is truly the key to success when selling your home. I’ve been assisting sellers in preparing their homes since 1994, and I can tell you that buyers are doing much of their home search online before ever going out to see property in person. So it’s vital that your home is reflected in its best light right from the start.

Your home’s photos are the best marketing weapon you have. Once those photos are submitted to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), they’re shared with numerous national and local real estate sites—and it’s difficult to change buyers’ first impression once they’ve seen those photos, even if you make changes later. That means that before photos are taken and your house is presented to the buying market it must be decluttered, organized and devoid of any glaring imperfections. If this requires that you paint a room, replace some carpeting, move out furniture…or even replace a roof, it’s best to make those updates before you list your home.

The other advantage to listing your home now is that inventory is lower in the first quarter of the year because of the myth that homes don’t sell in the winter. For example, right now there are 27 homes for sale in Charlotte listed in the MLS database. With 48 sales for all of last year, or an absorption rate of four units a month, there is currently only a 6.75-month supply of homes on the market. This is what is defined as a seller’s market. As the inventory increases in the second quarter, buyers have more choices and you have more competition.

In short, the best time to list your home is now. Homes do sell in the winter, and a large pool of buyers is out there just waiting for some new homes to hit the market. Waiting will only tip the scales against the seller.