There's no place like home for the holidays—and that's especially true if you're looking to sell a home right now!
Why the dead of winter might be the best time to list
People often think of listing a home sometime during April, May or June. The idea is that listing in the spring during prime selling season will get you the highest price.
Yet syndicated financial writer Kenneth Harney says that's actually not true. In city after city, starting a new listing in winter will actually get you a higher amount of money for the sale of your home on average.
A Redfin study that looked at more than one million homes between 2011 and 2013 in 19 major markets had some startling conclusions. Among the unlikely findings:
- Houses listed from Dec. 21 through March 21 had a 9% greater chance of selling within 180 days closer to the asking price vs. homes put on the market from March 22 through June 21.
- Listing in summer? That's the kiss of death for a seller, apparently. The same study shows homes listed from from Dec. 21 through March 21 had a 10% greater chance of selling at or near asking price vs. homes listed from June 22 through Sept. 20.
Every home and every situation is different, of course.
The reason for this unlikely scenario? Home prices actually peak in late winter/early spring when the least number of properties are on the market, but people are already out looking. So you'll make more money by avoiding the common wisdom!
On the other hand, Clark says that older listings that have sat on the market can be a real deal for buyers once they hit November 1. "Spring or summer sellers tend to capitulate particularly if they're still on the market around the holidays," the consumer champion notes. "They become 'motivated sellers' in the terminology of the industry."
Got a highly desirable property? Consider doing a 'pocket listing'
Nowadays when you look for home, what do you do? You look on the computer, or more likely you look on your phone via an app like Zillow or so many others. When you're driving around and see a home for sale, these apps will geo-locate you and then pull the MLS listing while you sit on the curb and look at the house!
But for sellers, a hot trend around the country is people not listing their homes in the traditional sense. What they're doing instead has historically been known as a 'pocket listing.'
This used to be very common in areas where real estate was priced sky high or in a celebrity neighborhood where sellers wanted privacy. Now it's gone mainstream, according to CNN Money. As many as one in seven houses that are sold in some cities were never actually listed for sale when they were sold!
How do pocket listings work exactly?
The idea is in most neighborhoods around the country, there are three to five agents that sell the bulk of homes in that area. So with a pocket listing you use a traditional real estate agent, usually one of those three to five big agents in an area, and they just chat up the other agents that also farm the area about your house.
That's also how they find out about unlisted homes among their circle of contacts. The only potential buyers who actually get to see the home are those brought there by that small number of agents.
The benefit to you as a seller is that your life is not nearly as disrupted, there are far fewer showings and there are fewer strangers waltzing through your home. The disadvantage is you're not reaching nearly as wide a market and you may miss a qualified buyer who might really help you get a good price for the home you're selling.
For you as a buyer, if there's a particular neighborhood you want to buy in, you're going to need an agent who is a big seller in that neighborhood who will know about these unlisted homes for sale. Otherwise you'll never know about them from the web or from an app on your phone!