Selling your home? Here's the golden window for listing

Real estate may boil down to location, location, location, but an important part of the equation also turns out to be timing, timing, timing. 

U.S. home sellers who list their homes during the first two weeks of May sell their properties for an average premium of $1,500 and find a buyer nine days faster on average than those who listed at other times of the year, according to recent research from Zillow. The real-estate site
also found regional variations in that golden window, although generally late spring is the best time for sellers to start marketing their homes. 

Sellers generally start thinking about getting their homes ready to put on the market about five months before they actually list their homes, but it’s not too late to prepare a home for a May listing, said Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell. Homes that require slight maintenance or repair projects may be in the best shape to get ready for a May listing, although Gudell added that listing a home outside of the window doesn’t mean it won’t sell or receive a premium. 

“If you are listing within this two-week window, this is when you’ll see the biggest bang for your buck,” she said. “Keep in mind it’s not just listing your home, but then you need to figure out, ‘I need to find another house,’ so it’s a parallel process.”

Across the U.S. on average, the ideal time to list a home is from May 1-15. Homes that go on the market in that window receive a premium of 0.8 percent, or $1,500 on average, Zillow found. Within that time frame, the best day to list is Saturday, it added. 

That last finding was intriguing, Gudell said, because the conventional wisdom in pre-Internet years was to list homes on Thursdays in order to include the listing in newspaper ads and to grab house-hunters’ attention before the weekend. With the popularity of home-listing apps, potential buyers are more likely to wait until Saturday to plan their visits to open houses or schedule appointments with realtors. 

“The information is at your fingertips, so you can list your home and have an open house on a Saturday,” she said. Buyers “get the information right away, sometimes in an email notification. There’s no need to have it happen on a Thursday when it took longer to channel to consumers.”

This spring and summer will likely be a seller’s market because there are 3 percent fewer homes on the market this year than in 2016. Some home buyers who failed to find properties last year will be renewing their searches this spring, she added. That’s particularly true in the starter-home category, where inventory is especially tight. 

“You will see a lot of competition for your home,” she said. “We have a lot of millennial buyers who are interested in cheaper entry-level homes. We are seeing homes move relatively fast compared with prior years.”

Below is a list of U.S. cities with the best weeks for listing properties. In general, the weeks are earlier in warmer climates, since buyers start searching earlier than in colder climates. 

March 1-15: 

  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale 
  • Tampa, Florida

March 16-31: 

  • Detroit
  • Pittsburgh

April 1-15

  • Sacramento, California
  • Baltimore
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Atlanta
  • Riverside, California
  • San Diego

April 16-30

  • Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Boston

May 1-15

  • New York/Northern New Jersey
  • Chicago
  • Dallas-Fort Worth
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Denver
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • San Jose, California

May 16-31

  • San Francisco
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul