The Truth About Selling in the Winter

Many people are under the impression that the winter is a bad time to list their homes for sale. In reality, the opposite is true here in San Diego County.

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It’s that time of year when people begin to ask us, "Hey, we want to move but holiday season is approaching. Is it a good time to sell? What should we do?" No matter how the market is performing, year in and year out it’s always the same story. People think that spring and summer are the best times of the year for home selling. Many homeowners would ideally like to sell during the winter, but unfortunately they decide to wait because they think it’s not the best time to list.

Every year, sometime between September and October, we see a peak in inventory here in San Diego. This means that if you're planning on selling your home during those months, you're going to have a lot more properties to compete with compared to any other time of year.

The reason for this is that by October, we’re left with the glut of spring and summer homes that didn't sell (the ones that failed at the inspection, that were unrealistically or incorrectly priced, or that didn't have the right marketing strategy or the right person negotiating for them).

But as we move into the cold months of the year there are a large quantity of listings being taken off the market. People simply say, "Hey, it didn't happen. We're now in the holiday season, let's get off the market."

"When we see a huge drop in supply, we only see a small drop in demand."

Plus there are sellers wanting to come to market right now who will avoid the winter and decide to hold off until the “right time.” These are the primary two reasons we experience a reduction in inventory starting in October and November, which continues all the way through to February every year.

At some point near the end of February we'll see the lowest inventory levels in the 12-month market cycle. And then, of course, people will start listing in March, and inventory will increase at higher and higher rates until September. Rinse and repeat every year – that's just the way it always goes.

Now, why does this keep happening? Well, to some extent, it seems like good business sense to sellers. It’s true that more homes will sell in the spring and summer. But that's only half of the story. You also have to look at how many homes are being listed in those months.

What we experience in the warm months is a huge uptick in supply, but only a small uptick in demand. This is because San Diego has a year-round demand cycle. In the cold months, what you get is the opposite. In the winter (right now), we experience a huge drop in supply and only a small drop in demand. So, here in San Diego County the absorption rate actually is best in the cold months versus the warmer months of the year.

I always tell sellers not to hesitate to list in the winter. There are tons of ready and willing buyers, and very few competing listings. This is especially true as we move deeper into the winter.

Still, when is the true best time to sell? When it makes sense for you and your family. This is San Diego, and demand is year round just like our good weather. But those who genuinely don’t care when they sell and just want the lowest levels of competing homes shoot for the middle to end of winter.

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