What is the Best Month of the Year to List or Buy a Home?

Tim Ford

Wow, what an amazing fall this has been. We’ve managed to escape without too much smoke, and the fall weather has been phenomenal. As the leaves start to change, people often ask if the holidays or the winter are a bad time of year to list a home for sale. Buyers also often ask what time of the year is best when buying a home. 

For the past few years, I’ve been analyzing the number of contracts versus the number of new listings during each month of the year to try to answer those questions. The data is very interesting.

In the included data, the New Listings column includes the number of homes that were listed during that month. Big note here: That column is not the total number of homes on the market during that month, and that is perhaps the weak point of this study. There were assuredly more homes on the market during those months than are shown in the new listings.

The New Contracts column includes the number of homes that were pending that month. This is not the number of homes that sold or closed, simply the number of times that buyers and sellers came to a written agreement. I feel this number is more pertinent than the number of closed sales, as it indicates the activity level of buyers during that month. 

Looking at the numbers, there are pros and cons to all seasons. There are certainly more contracts written during the spring and summer months, but there is also more new competition. Winter has less competition, but also fewer buyers in the marketplace. Comparing the percentages of new listings versus new contracts, the 4th quarter has the highest percentages, which goes against popular sentiment.

This study doesn’t take into account price reductions, sales that have terminated and come back onto the market, and inventory carryover from previous months, but it offers a very quick and easy look into buyers’ and sellers’ activity levels.

Perhaps the lesson to take from the data is to make the move when the timing works for the individual or family. Some people can’t fathom moving in the winter. Others may have to move due to a job transfer. Maybe a new home has just hit the market that is exactly what someone has been looking for. A big plus for listing homes during the winter is the general lack of tire kickers. If someone is looking at a home on a blustery winter day, they’re usually a serious buyer. As I’ve often written, my best advice for buyers is to get pre-approved and in a position where they’re ready to buy, but don’t have to buy.

The included data was pulled on 10/14/22 from the Big Sky Country MLS, a subsidiary of the Gallatin Association of REALTORS®    

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