Selling soon? Here’s what to expect in the fall home sale season

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Selling your home is an exciting time, but it can also be a bit scary. The end result – a sale – depends a great deal on correctly timing your sale.

So, if you’re planning to sell this fall, during the middle of a presidential election, here’s what you need to know:

1. Your local housing market is unique.

No matter where you live, housing markets are unique. And, they’re very local. Neighborhoods can move at different speeds, even in the same metro area. Fall is typically a slower, colder market for home sales, and a particularly cold and snowy winter can complicate the home sales process. But if you’re in a warm climate, you could see more buyers than a family-friendly neighborhood in Minnesota. Do your research, talk to local agents and get a feel for the area so you can tailor your home-selling plan appropriately.

2. You’ll face less home sale competition in the fall.

One thing you can generally count on, though, is seeing fewer ‘For Sale’ signs around your neighborhood. Spring and midsummer are simply the high points of the home-selling calendar, thanks to the weather and the convenience for families looking to move. Those who are selling now, however, are seeing shorter times on the market and getting great prices for their homes. Though the market cooled off earlier than expected in July, housing experts and industry observers believe that much of the slowdown has to do with lack of inventory for sale. In other words, buyers are looking for quality homes to purchase, which puts sellers in a good position, even in the typically slower autumn.

3. Home sale resources are more available

Not being surrounded by other homes for sale gives you a leg up in other areas as well. The sale process, for example, may go smoother and faster, since banks, inspectors and agents aren’t stretched as thin as they are during the hot spring and summer seasons. So when you do get a favorable offer, there’s a chance you can finalize the deal in less time.

4. The housing market will only get colder until spring

If your home has been listed for sale for the past six months, and you haven’t had an offer yet, don’t count on something bubbling up now. It might, but typically, housing markets cool down as the fall progresses. Once the  cold weather and holidays kick in, buyers stay inside rather than venture out to look at your home. Serious sellers are out and about, but you may not have as much traffic as you’d like. Depending on your situation and how soon you need to sell, this could mean you’ve got to hold on until spring or settle for a less-than-ideal offer.

But here’s the good news: the spring home selling season starts in early January, which is just a few months away. If you don’t have an offer by Thanksgiving, consider removing your home from the market, and reevaluating your price-point and perhaps other features that can be reworked before relisting in the early spring.

Here’s one thing you should know: Everyone’s home selling experience is a bit different, but if you’re going to go for it now you need to prepare. Buyers will want to see a home in good condition. In the fall that means raking up your leaves, decorating for the season and helping them envision themselves in your home. There’s a chance that as the season goes on you won’t see as many offers or the high prices that come with the spring and summer markets, but there are still dedicated buyers out there. If they’re looking at this time of year, they want to buy just as much as you want to sell, so put in the effort to give you and your home the best chance at a sale.


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About Ilyce Glink

Author of 13 books, including the bestselling 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask. Writer of the nationally syndicated column, “Real Estate Matters.” Top-rated radio host in Atlanta. Writer for CBS MoneyWatch.com. Managing editor of the Equifax Personal Finance Blog.
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