Selling Homes: Now a Year-Round Sport

The days are growing shorter. The weather is turning frigid. Snow will soon start falling from the sky. It's time for home sellers to pack up their "For Sale" signs, cancel their classified ads and wait until Spring to put their homes back on the market, right?


Used to be that the home-selling business slowed to a crawl during the winter months. But today, that's no longer the case. In fact, sellers may instead benefit by placing their home on the market in the winter.

Home sellers in the Chicago area are finding that in today's hot real estate market, it's possible to sell a house quickly any time of the year, so long as it's priced correctly, of course. That doesn't mean there aren't better times to put your house on the market. During certain times of the year, you're likely to get a better price. And during other times, you're likely to nab more offers. But if you're ready to sell in January, there's now no reason not to put your home on the market.

So, when is the best time to put your house on the market?

That used to be an easy question to answer. Most real estate agents would have said that putting your house on the market from March 1 to June 1 would guarantee the most offers and the highest prices. And it's still a great time to sell. Families with children often look at houses during this time period so that they can move while school is no longer in session. But this four-month period is no longer the only time homeowners can nab a quick sale while still fetching a top price. The Chicago area's real estate market has been sizzling for years now. People are buying 12 months a year, even during the holidays. And home prices in the city and its suburbs continue to escalate.

Don't believe me? Than take a look at the statistics. According to the Chicago Association of Realtors, agents across the city sold more than 1,300 houses during the week of Dec. 19 to 25 each of the last three years. Homeowners weren't hesitant to put their residences on the market during that week, either. More than 1,300 of them posted "For Sale" signs in front of their properties during this period.

That's Christmas week, remember, when most people are more concerned with last-minute gift shopping than they are with buying a house.

Of course, those numbers pale in comparison to some of the busiest weeks of the year. In prime selling time, Chicago real estate agents will combine to sell more than 4,400 homes a week. But the numbers do prove that it's possible, even likely, to sell a Chicago-area home during what used to terrible times to have your residence on the market.

Before sellers get too giddy, though, they should realize one thing:

Just because a house will sell in the middle of December or on Thanksgiving weekend, that doesn't mean it'll fetch the best price.

Buyers who put their homes on the market during the traditional selling period, anytime from late February, say, to mid-summer, will probably grab more offers for their properties. More offers usually translates into a higher selling price, as potential buyers try to outbid each other for a desirable home.

Why are there more buyers, and more offers, during the late winter to mid-summer selling time? It's all tied to the school year. When buyers purchase a house in April or May, they won't close on it until the school year ends. That means they can move during the summer. If they're moving to a new school district, their children won't have to make a potentially traumatic switch to a new school during the academic year.

Buyers face more competition during this time, as well. To guarantee getting a house, they have to offer more money than they would during the winter months, when fewer buyers are looking at homes. This equals bigger profits for sellers.

Before putting your home on the market, you should do some research to guarantee the most offers and the best selling price. Agents say that sellers should never forget what kind of buyers makes up their target market.

How do sellers determine this? By looking at their homes. Owners selling a modest home, one with two bedrooms and about 1,500 square feet, will probably attract first-time homebuyers. First-time buyers usually don't come with school-age children. They're not tied to the school year when it comes to moving. Buyers selling homes like this can probably fetch an equally high price in winter as they would in spring or summer.

But this isn't the case for buyers selling larger, more expensive homes. These homes attract move-up buyers, buyers who've already owned one or more residences. These folks more than likely will come with children in either elementary or high school. They want to move only after the school year ends.

Do most sellers consider such factors when moving? When they're looking on the their own, they don't. But when they're working with a skilled real estate agent, they do.

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Maria Burk
Maria Burk
(888) 32-Marco (773) 203-4826

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