Whether you've decided to buy your first home or are a seasoned pro in the real estate market, you don't want to pay more to purchase a property than necessary. Sellers, on the other hand, want to command the best possible price.
Fortunately, making certain smart money-saving moves for homeowners can help ensure you get a fair price as a buyer or top-dollar as a seller. One of those moves is to understand how the real estate market works.
Although it can be really hard to guess how property values will trend over time, there is some data to show certain times of the year are much better than others for either scoring a bargain when buying a home or commanding a premium when selling one. In fact, the experts have already identified the best and worst days to purchase or sell so you can make the ideal choice about when to make a real estate move.
In this article, we’ll analyze the data for you and break it down into actionable advice you can use to make the most or save the most when it comes to your home.
The best days to buy a home
According to Attom Data Solutions, a provider of real estate and property data, the best days to purchase a home fall within the winter months. Specifically, December 4 and January 26 are the two best days to close.
Attom's analysis of seven years’ worth of real estate sales revealed buyers who close on these days tend to pay exactly what a property is worth, rather than paying above market value as most buyers have been doing in the competitive seller's market that's persisted over the past several years.
Although Attom didn't specify a reason why buyers on these specific dates tend to get better deals, it also identified December as the best month to get an affordable price overall, whereas June tends to be the month in which buyers pay the highest premiums.
Winter tends to be a better time to purchase a home at a good price because it's a less popular time to shop for real estate so there's not as much competition from other buyers. Sellers who list in winter often do so because they have to move at that time, which means they may be more willing to be flexible on price.
For buyers taking advantage of low prices available during the winter months, closing on December 4 or January 26 can be especially convenient. That's because rental leases often end at the beginning or end of the month, so buyers who close on these days can move to their new property around when their lease ends. Closing at the beginning of the month also means you won't have to make a mortgage payment for several weeks, whereas waiting until the end of the month means you won't owe much prorated interest as part of your closing costs.
The worst days to buy a home
The worst days to buy a home, on the other hand, are days when you'd pay the highest premium price to sellers. These days generally fall in the summer months, as there is more demand for properties because people want to move when the weather is good and their children are on break from school.
The biggest buyer premiums were paid on June 21, 22, and 29 according to Attom's data, so those are the worst days to buy if you don't want to pay above the home's market value.
Again, Attom didn't explain the exact reasoning behind why buyers pay so much more on these dates. But it likely has to do with the fact people have had plenty of time to shop after school ended for the year and plenty of time to get settled before it starts up again. Plus, the weather is nice, so it's much more pleasant to look for houses and move into one.
Quick tips for buying a home
Buying a home can be one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of your life, but it can also be complicated. You're spending a lot of money, so the stakes are high. You want to do it right.
If you want to maximize the chances of a successful home purchase, you need to do more than just be strategic about the days you buy. Here are some other steps you may want to take:
- Get to work early on saving a down payment in a high-yield savings account. Ideally, you'll put down 20% of your home's value as a down payment, though that's not a hard-and-fast requirement. If you put down less, you may have to pay for mortgage insurance to protect the lender. As you’re saving your money, you’ll want to make sure to put it in one of the best savings accounts so you can earn interest on it too.
- Interview real estate agents carefully. If you’ll hire an agent to represent your interests, make sure their communication style matches yours and that they're familiar with properties in your price range.
- Research loans early in the process. Learn how to get a loan and about all the different loan options, such as conventional loans and federal housing administration or Department of Agriculture loans. You can also get preapproved before you get serious about your home search so you'll know your maximum borrowing limit.
- Work on improving your credit score. Lenders will evaluate your score, which will play a determining role in loan approval and the loan interest rate you're offered if you qualify for a mortgage. Spend some time taking steps to improve your credit score.
- Compare loan rates. The interest can vary by lender. Shop around among several of the best mortgage lenders to ensure you're securing a loan at the lowest cost.
The best days to sell a home
The best days to offload a property are the days when buyers tend to pay the biggest seller premium. To find that day, Attom Data Solutions analyzed more than nine years of sales data including 10,000 sales of single family homes and condos.
Unsurprisingly, it found that the market is the hottest in summer when demand for homes is highest. As a result, sellers should aim to list their properties during the months when the weather is warm, kids aren't in school, and people are ready and eager to make a move.
The three best days to sell included June 22, June 21, and June 29. On each of these days, Attom's data showed that sellers commanded a premium of 10.5%. This means properties sell for more than 10% above market value. Sellers also commanded a 10.3% premium on June 20 and 10.2% extra above a home's market value on June 15.
The worst days to sell a home
The worst days for a home sale are the opposite of the best ways for buyers — December 4 and January 26. Buyers who closed on properties during these two days were found to have generally paid around market value, rather than above it.
With sellers on some days getting more than 10% above what their property is worth, selling for just market value alone may come as a disappointment. So if you can manage not to sell your home during winter, it could make a big financial difference.
Quick tips for selling a home
Selling a home can be stressful, but there are tips to make the process easier. To help maximize the chances your home sale will be a success:
- Declutter and depersonalize your home. Buyers need to be able to imagine living there, so remove some of your personal items. Decluttering can both make your home feel more spacious and ensure you're showing off its best features.
- Make minor repairs. You don't want buyers to be concerned about deferred maintenance, so fix any little things that are wrong with your home. These issues are bound to come up in inspection anyway, so it pays to take care of them before you start showings.
- Find the right real estate agent. Make sure your agent has sold homes in your price range and is familiar with the area.
- Ensure your listing is designed to attract buyers. If you have a good real estate agent, they should help you do that. You'll want professional pictures and a 3D tour if possible.
Often, you don't have a choice about exactly when to buy or sell your home because your decision may be influenced by factors such as a need to move for work or family reasons.
But if you do have the option to be strategic about when you list your property or make a purchase, you potentially could benefit by getting a better bargain on certain days as a buyer or commanding a higher price as a seller.
It's up to you to decide whether it's worth setting your timeline based on data showing the best and worst days to buy and sell a home.