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Selling season

Waiting until fall or winter to sell can mean more serious buyers, less competition

Created date

August 20th, 2013
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Summer is winding down, the kids are back in school, and the opportunity to sell your house during peak real estate seasons spring and summer has come and gone, right? Not necessarily. Experts say that fall and winter have their own unique advantages for sellers. "In reality, there is never a bad time to sell when positioned well in the market," says Robert Skudrna, a real estate agent with Long & Foster Reisterstown. Skudrna, along with partner Lou Bivona, has helped dozens of longtime homeowners looking to downsize sell their homes and move to Charlestown, an Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md. "One of the big advantages to selling your home in the fall is, typically, there is less inventory, which equals less competition. And competition never helps sellers," he says.

Favorable conditions

Real estate expert Brendon DeSimone goes a step further in an April article published for Zillow, an online real estate database. He says early winter has proven to be equally as successful for sellers as the traditional spring season. "Today, more than half of buyers aren t married, and their decisions aren t based upon school schedules," says DeSimone. Spring isn't as relevant as it used to be. Instead, the best time to sell a home is in November, December, and January. "It's a supply-and-demand issue," DeSimone continues. Most sellers assume buyers aren't seriously looking during this prolonged holiday season. And yet, many buyers are looking at properties in person and online right up until Christmas Eve. If the right home goes on the market in mid-December, a serious buyer and there will be a lot of them will take note. After New Year's Eve, most buyers jump back into their routine with a resolve to get into the real estate market, even though many sellers wouldn't even consider listing in January. The net effect: savvy sellers will face less competition for a still-strong pool of buyers during this period. "And that makes November to January a great time to sell," he says. People moving to Charlestown receive assistance from Erickson Realty and Moving Services, a complimentary service that connects them with a team of experienced real estate agents like Skudrna and Bivona, as well as staging companies and downsizing experts all connected by one goal: to sell your house. Charlestown's personal moving consultant, Vera Ballard, coordinates these services to make moving easier from start to finish. "My goal is to help you navigate the ins and outs of the selling and moving process with the least amount of stress," says Ballard.

Winning combination

Regardless of the season, Skudrna and Bivona say that what largely determines how quickly or how slowly your house sells comes down to pricing. "For the first time in over six years, we have converted from a buyer's market to a seller's market. However, we are still working with buyer s prices," says Skudrna. "We are seeing more houses selling at full asking price or better in a more reasonable period of time (45 days or less) when the seller has put the proper pieces of the puzzle together, including making necessary repairs and cosmetic changes prior to listing." He says statistics show that when a house sells in 30 days or less, the purchase price is, on average, just 3% less than the listing price. However, when a property takes 75 days or more to sell, the purchase price drops significantly.

Fair market price

So how do you determine what fair market price is for your house? Keep the following three factors in mind when working with your real estate agent: The comparative market analysis. A comparative market analysis (CMA) is a side-by-side comparison of similar homes for sale and recently sold homes in your neighborhood. CMAs are composed of data compiled for comparison purposes by your real estate agent s multiple listing service (MLS). The appraisal. An appraisal is a market analysis performed by a professional appraiser using a variety of sources, including MLS data and conforming loan formulas. The art of the deal. Your real estate agent s knowledge and experience in the local market plays a huge role in the pricing of your house. He or she will help you read the market and choose the right price based on current trends, analysis, and news. "Simply put," Skudrna says, "The best scenario is when both sides believe they are getting a fair deal."