The Best Time to Sell

Rhonda asked a great question on Facebook recently (and won some movie tickets for doing so). Her question?

“When is the best time of year to put a house on the market and why? I ask because most people wait for spring, but wonder if winter is better as the market is not so flooded”.

Let's look at some market specifics. The graphs below are statistics from the last few years via REINZ. The first shows unconditional sales volumes.  

The sale and purchase agreement is normally entered into prior to when it is actually shown as sold, but you can clearly see the uptick in activity starting in Springtime (September). The peak is February/March, although that is influenced by the normal Christmas shutdown in New Zealand. However, the monthly/annual trend is obvious.

The second graph looks at how long it takes to sell a property. 

The Christmas holiday affects the January and February statistics, but the trend is again visible - it takes longer to sell a home during the winter season. Hardly surprising that everyone hibenates.

Thirdly, new property to the market - the supply side of the equation.

This graph comes from's useful Unconditional  blog. As you can see October/November and February/March are the largest months for new listings. This impacts the other statistics in a large manner - lots of property available for sale will decrease prices and increase the time to sell, while a shortage will have the opposite effect. 

Finally, price. Is that influenced by seasons?  

As you can see from the graph of sale prices achieved over multiple calendar years, broader market trends, that is, whether it is a rising or falling market have the greatest impact.  But, there is a price bump in March and November. Probably driven by buyers getting more active with a short lag before sellers respond with properties to sell.

So, the short answer would be yes - in the Spring/Summer season there are more houses sold, in a shorter time frame, for possibly better prices. But there is also a greater level of competition for sellers from a good supply of alterative properties on the market.

Rhonda is correct in her comments - more people list and sell their homes during the Spring/Summer season, but there is more competition, so the need to stand out is greater, with perhaps, additional advertising and promotional spend. The winter season has less competition, but also less active buyers, so a little more patience may be required.

But, I think the real estate golden rule applies whatever the season - well presented, well priced and well promoted property will sell, while others sit on the market helping it get sold (by serving as less attractive comparisons).

Most decisions to sell are driven by personal circumstances - upsizing, downsizing, moving location, and so forth. There are definite seasonal trends in the New Zealand real estate market.  But, macroeconomic factors (for example, a rising or falling market) are important too (June 2006 was a much better environment to be selling than September 2009 for example!). Rather than trying to speculate on general market trends I think it better to sell when it suits your personal needs and spend the effort on ensuring the property is attractive to buyers by being presented for sale in immaculate condition, priced to sell (not to help others to get sold), and advertised and promoted well. 

1 Comment on “The Best Time to Sell”

  • Diana Coleman said:

    Grant what is the cost to do a feature on trademe for our home?

    Posted 11 th March, 2013

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