Is Autumn a Good Time to Sell My House?

From the letter bag: Hi Kim, I just inherited my mom’s beach house and of course I’ve already moved in. I want to sell my other house and use some of the money to renovate, but I’ve heard that fall isn’t a great time for real estate. Do you think I can still get its full value if I list now, or should I sit on it until spring 2020? Signed — Surfer Girl

Dear Surfer, What I want most is a crystal ball. What will the economy do? How will new high-rise condos affect detached home prices? Where will the next surprise come from? So many moving variables shape the local housing market and the value of any individual home, but since we haven’t yet perfected the crystal ball or time machine, let’s look at what we know.

It’s true that spring and summer are known for higher home sales volume. Then again, even nationally, sellers on average don’t really suffer in autumn’s market climate. The seasonal reduction in inventory means every listing potentially gets a larger share of views from househunters, and any increase in average listing time is likely due to a larger proportion of hard-to-sell homes that will linger no matter the season.

But especially in San Diego, autumn weather doesn’t have quite the same dampening effect on buyer activity as it may elsewhere. Heavy rain, which can discourage open house attendance and other forms of casual interest, is rare enough here that even our winter and spring sales see respectable traffic. Yards and gardens here keep their curb appeal year round. Besides, autumn is the season for serious househunters who work with a real estate agent to actively find homes that suit their wishes.

In addition to the possibility of large market shifts and other factors that add general uncertainty, holding onto an empty home does not come without costs and risks. While our winter isn’t harsh, this still might be the year you discover that your roof wasn’t as tight as you’d hoped. Yards require maintenance. Mortgages and insurances and taxes need paying. And empty properties can be a magnet for mischief. Whatever condition your home is in right now is your bird in the hand; it’s up to you whether you want to gamble that on whatever next year might bring to the bush.

That said, in every season, a seller should position and market each property suitably so it resonates with the buyers who might love it. Fix it up, make it pretty, stage it appropriately, and distribute excellent marketing materials — your attention to detail will be rewarded. Check out my website for tips on preparing your home for a successful sale, and of course contact me if you’d like my help with the listing.

Thanks for the great question, Surfer Girl! To sum up, the best time to sell a house in San Diego is when you’re ready to sell the house. Next spring when your beach house has benefited from your foresight in funding those renovations, recalling this decision will be your favorite hindsight in 2020.

Thinking about selling or buying a home, or have any other real estate questions? I love your letters (and emails and calls) — get in touch so I can answer yours!