The Best Time to List a Home

By Tim Ford, Real Estate Broker

As I write this, we’re having an unseasonably warm fall & early winter.  Hopefully by the time this goes to print, it will be looking a little bit more like winter. Beyond being the time of year many locals are prepping for ski season, this is also the time of year that people ask if the holidays or winter months are a good time to list a home for sale.  

In order to try to answer that question, I compiled and analyzed the number of contracts versus the number of new listings during each month of the year. 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 that were on the market during those months in addition to the new listings.

The New Contracts column includes the number of homes that went 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 to Buy and Sell. 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 seller’s 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 or when the kids are in school. 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 11/16/2021 from the Big Sky Country MLS.

2021

Month New Listings New Contracts % sold v new listing
January 69 70 101%
February 74 62 84%
March 91 84 92%
April 99 86 87%
May 109 87 80%
June 145 86 59%
July 131 99 76%
August 108 87 81%
September 106 101 95%
October 66 78 118%
November    
December    

 

2020

Month New Listings New Contracts % sold v new listing
January 81 69 85%
February 80 61 76%
March 113 59 52%
April 85 74 87%
May 145 132 91%
June 149 148 99%
July 138 153 111%
August 113 127 112%
September 99 109 110%
October 96 98 102%
November 48 63 131%
December 45 48 107%


2019

Month New Listings New Contracts % sold v new listing
January 75 71 95%
February 98 86 88%
March 84 83 99%
April 115 99 86%
May 162 119 73%
June 179 109 61%
July 142 105 74%
August 132 103 78%
September 99 69 70%
October 78 69 88%
November 45 55 122%
December 35 53 151%

 

2018

Month New Listings New Contracts % sold v new listing
January 78 72 92%
February 85 76 89%
March 125 105 84%
April 114 103 90%
May 150 93 62%
June 162 88 54%
July 134 91 68%
August 130 95 73%
September 87 90 103%
October 85 90 106%
November 52 37 71%
December 36 41 114%