Seasonal investing: when is the best time to sell or buy?

Traditionally, the ‘spring selling season’ has been touted as the best time to sell because there are more people looking to buy. But be warned – it’s a myth. You’re better off selling in the summer.

Spring – BEST TO BUY (September, October, November)

Many vendors are encouraged by their real estate agents to list their properties in spring, pointing out that this is when most people are looking to buy. In reality, spring is a great time to get a quick sale, but not a high one. The increase in potential buyers is often exaggerated and the fact that there is a dramatic increase in listings means it’s more likely to be a buyer’s market. This means buyers have so many more choices for properties and have more room to negotiate prices.

Summer – BEST TO SELL (December, January, February)

Property values historically climb at the highest rate over the first three months of the year. That’s because a lot of people want to purchase at the beginning of the year but there tends to be a drop in listings as potential vendors go on holiday. It’s simple supply and demand. Most sellers assume buyers aren’t seriously looking during this period, but many actually are.

Autumn – BEST TO BUY or wait (March, April, May) .

The highest amount of sales are usually over spring and summer, so by the time it comes to the Autumn months a lot of people have already finished whatever property transactions they would have wanted to do. The impetus of a new year and a motivation among people to improve their lifestyle by purchasing a new home usually also starts to fade by autumn.

Winter – BEST TO WAIT (June, July, August)

Winter is a lot like the summer holiday period in that people tend not to list properties as much, thinking there will be few buyers in the market. The latter part is somewhat correct – there are fewer buyers – but when combined with the fact there are also less sellers it means that price growth tends to follow whatever pattern it would have shown in a market before. If it was a high growth market it will stay high growth. If values were staying flat, they’ll continue to stay flat.

The verdict:

The seasons do affect prices, but in the grand scheme of things that affect is minimal. In many cases, the amount you’d possibly make by waiting a few months for the right season are not enough to justify a few extra months on a mortgage you possibly can’t afford. Conversely, jumping into the buyer’s market early, just because it is the right season, isn’t a good idea if it could jeopardise your finances.

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