Planning to sell in the new year? Get a head start by listing early.
Being early has its benefits: “The early bird catches the worm” or “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” You get the idea. So if you’re thinking about listing your home for sale in Athens, GA, in 2017 — or if you already know you will — why not do so early, as in January or February? By getting in on the real estate market at the beginning of the year, you could benefit in some unexpected ways. Here are six of them.
1. There’s low inventory
When inventory’s low, it’s usually a great time to put your house on the market. Your new listing could cause buyers to pounce when there’s little competition, especially if your home is in a desirable neighborhood. Research conducted by Trulia revealed that 2016 was the year of low inventory. “Inventory has been low, at least in Chicago, so you might as well hit the market early,” says Gary Lucido, president of Lucid Realty in Chicago, IL.
2. There’s more urgency
There are plenty of reasons people need to get in a home fast. Many companies transfer employees at the start of a year, for one. Whatever the reason, if you encounter a homebuyer in the dead of winter, they probably need to buy sooner rather than later. And unless you’re in a hot climate, January and February are not the months most people want to be out hitting the streets to browse. Winter buyers often have a sense of urgency — when they find what they’re looking for, they’ll make an offer.
3. Spring starts early in warm markets
If your home is in a warm climate, you could really benefit by listing your home for sale in early spring. “Traditionally, our real estate website has at least double the number of visitors starting the day after Christmas,” says Glenn S. Phillips, CEO of Lake Homes Realty, a multistate real estate brokerage. “While homebuyers may not be personally visiting houses as quickly, they will be looking online. We advise that listing a home earlier helps a home stand out in the market.” Also, when the weather outside is frightful, “Retirees and people in the market for a second home seek a more temperate climate,” says Denver, CO, agent Matt Vos.
Some markets, however, do not experience prime time in January and February. “You might want to wait [to sell] if you have great outdoor space,” says Lucido. “It won’t show as well with snow on the ground and leafless trees.” But if outdoor space isn’t an issue, like in an urban environment, go ahead and list during the first two months of the year. “New Yorkers will attend an open house even in snowy and frigid weather if it means finding the right new home,” says David Walker, CEO of TripleMint, a New York, NY, real estate brokerage.
4. There’s early movement for lower price points
“The lower-price-point markets move a little earlier,” says Vos. If you’re a first-time homebuyer and are currently saving in preparation to buy, you might have earmarked that tax refund coming to you for the purpose. “When these potential buyers get a refund on their taxes, they’ll sometimes use that as a down payment to roll into a purchase,” offers Vos. The sooner you turn in your tax return, the sooner you’ll get your refund, usually in fewer than 21 days.
5. There’s a new administration
Speculation and uncertainty abound whenever a new administration takes the helm. If you think the Trump administration will make it tougher for people to buy a home, you might want to sell early in the year. “Many people worry that some of the reforms laid out in the Republican platform could potentially force buyers to fork over larger down payments,” says Peter Vekselman, a Southeast real estate investor. “This could be a problem for many home sellers as the pool of eligible homebuyers begins to shrink.” Of course, speculation is just that. But if you believe this to be true, “It makes sense to sell a home now,” says Vekselman.
6. There’s a potential interest rate hike coming
Some people are concerned about rising interest rates this year. If homebuyers think rates will rise, they might buy sooner rather than later. “The interest rates have been very low for a very long time,” says Vos. “As they begin to tick up, you will start to see consumers’ buying power drop because of the cost to cover mortgage payments.”
Josh Moffitt, president of Silverton Mortgage Specialists in Atlanta, GA, agrees: “It is all an unknown, but there is some thought that rates could continue to rise in 2017 like they have been doing slightly at the end of 2016.”