When to sell?

For Sale
For Sale

The first thing you learn in the stock market is “Buy when high, sell when low.” And when it comes to selling your home in Calgary, such sage advice is the same. But when factoring in Calgary’s status as the hottest real estate market in Canada at a time when the economy is recovering with a vengeance after the bear market ensued a few years ago, sellers have to consider a number of other variables in the equation.

Normally, spring is seen by many sellers as the best time to get their property listed, while winter is normally viewed as the worst season during the year to sell. To many buyers, snow tends to have less curb appeal than a fresh lawn, while the cold conditions tend to deter people from venturing outdoors, an obvious prerequisite to relocating.

Summer vacations usually distract folks in selling mode, while the visual inconvenience of dead leaves on the property landscape during the fall tend to make buyers lose interest.

This cyclical behavior is supported by 2012 statistics released in January by the Calgary Real Estate Board, which cited May as the hottest-selling month at 2,199 units, with March, April and June sales hovering above the 2,000 mark. That’s a huge contrast to the winter doldrums that affected sales, specifically in December (1,083) and January (1,068).

But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest there are several serious buyers out there year-round. The average price of a home sold each month was well above its benchmark. And when comparing sales with active listings, December managed to clear 40 percent of its inventory (considerably higher than warmer months from June to October), a performance level only marginally lower than the 43 per cent ratios of March and April and the 42 per cent level registered in May, the highest selling month of the year. Save for January (24 per cent), the level of competition for available real estate doesn’t seem to fluctuate wildly throughout the year. And if January is once again taken out of the equation, the difference in the number of days a house is on the market during peak and valley times is two weeks throughout the rest of the year.

One school of thought suggests sellers to list their home early in the year to get a leap on the competition due to a potential glut in available homes. In 2012, the number of available homes spiked in March spiked to 5,092 from February’s active listing tally of 4,736, before peaking at 5,739 in May. The prevailing logic is that smaller inventory increases a listed home’s exposure in the face of increasing demand, which in turn drives up the price. Keep an eye on the market to help plan your selling strategy if you believe this tactic is right for you.

The other alternative is to sell when you think you’re actually ready to sell, taking into account your future family plans. A Realtor can advise you on other ways to increase the value of your home by suggesting curb appeal tips and necessary repairs to ensure a shorter listing period and a higher market price.

Regardless of what time of year you decide to sell in the hottest market in the country, timing is only one of several ways you can ensure a good return on your property investment.

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