Dec vs. Jan. When to LIST Your Home.

Part 2 to my: Current Sellers “Wait Till Spring”? Yeah Right. Lose $10,000, which focuses on sellers that put their home on the market around September and whether they are better off trying to get a deal done in December, vs waiting until Spring to get a higher price. My data showed that they got $10,000 LOWER if they waited until Spring.

The question that I still have is:

If you have a home for sale that is “ready” (a fully staged Arlington Virginia Home), are you better off waiting until January 1st (or Spring) to list your house?


  1. Inventory is lower, less to choose from for buyers.
  2. Everything seems stale and leftover. Maybe put a hot listing on, and those that are actively looking will jump on it, even in December?


  1. Fewer buyers. There are 2x the # of buyers (lookers) in Jan Vs Dec.
  2. Source Google Trends: MLS HOMES
  3. The more Days on the Market, the lower the price tends to go. You have a better chance of selling your house the first week it is listed, especially if you can get 2 interested parties.
  4. A TON MORE LISTINGS in Jan. Yes there is more demand (buyers) but there is a TON MORE SUPPLY.

So I ran some numbers (I don’t really trust numbers, but lets see…).

I looked at all homes in Arlington that were listed on 12-1-06 through 12-10-06 (Dec Listed) and compared how they did to listings that were put on the market 1-1-07 through 1-10-07 (Jan Listed), this is what I found:

This shows me:

  • There are 20% more new listings in Jan vs Dec. (vs 100% more traffic from buyers)
  • Homes sold 30% faster in Jan
  • Homes listed in January were 40% MORE likely to sell within 2 weeks.
  • BUT The actual % of Original Price was only .3% difference ($1,500 on a $500k place).
  • The Median price was $100k off, that doesn’t mean homes went up 20%, just the type of home was a little different. I pretty much ignored that number.

Based on these numbers, with most weight placed on the % of list, I think it doesn’t really matter when you list it. I’ve said this about Market Timing for buyers, I guess it applies for sellers too.

Supply and demand already works itself out, I still don’t believe you can BEAT the market. (ie more buyers, and more listings).

But Frank, you said Dec was better for buyers!

Yep, my Market Timing for buyers post says that you shouldn’t time the market, but if you find yourself in Dec, you might get a better deal since there are fewer buyers. I guess that might NOT be true after all. Sorry about that.

– Written by Frank Borges LL0SA- Broker (please report typos)

Also see Jeff Royce’s Taking Your House off the Market for Winter?

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  • November
  • 2007

11 Responses to “Dec vs. Jan. When to LIST Your Home.”

  1. Lenn says:

    Folks that try to time a real estate listing are like a guy on his Honeymoon trying to time. .. . . . .


  2. Lenn Harley, Real Estate in Maryland, Virginia, Florida says:

    I don’t know why folks try to delay listing a home. What’s another month on the market. DOM are running 3-4 months anyway.

    Seems to me that in a falling market, one would want to get listed as quickly as possible. For one thing, buyers out in the market in December are serious serious buyers.

    What are they waiting for? The Spring rush???? What if they wait until Spring and there’s no rush????

    What ever you do, if it doesn’t sell quickly, it will be your fault.

  3. Pat Emmett says:

    Frank, that’s a regional question, I think….In South Florida, our season starts around January, so we sure want sellers to get going by Jan. at the latest. (especially this year!) Pat

  4. Greg Fox says:

    I’ve run several studies that compare the number of closings per month as a percentage of the over all market. Dec is the lowest, but Jan and Feb aren’t that far behind it. The next problem you may have isn’t really about the dollars, but more about the traffic. We have a great traffic increase at the start of Dec, trails off after about a week, and starts up again after Christmas. I don’t think DOM will affect the price as much in the early part of the year.

    Traffic now can result in a sale later, and with good pricing/comps the price should be fine.

  5. Melissa Wagner says:

    Frank, I for one say if you want to sell your house… list it now and don’t delay. I have a couple of very serious buyers right now that oddly enough with the market being as bad as everyone says it is, you would think finding them the home they are looking for would be easy but it is not. I would love to see some new properties come on the market in our area fitting their criteria. I am currently working on contacting owners who have what we are looking for that I know have shown an interest in possibly selling later to get what we are needing for my buyers. Those holding on to their homes for spring are missing out on the benefit of the more serious buyers who are ready to buy now.

  6. Jackie Peraza - Framingham, MA Stager says:

    Frank- ahem…OK, I’ve collected my thoughts after Lenn’s initial comment….Fully staged and ready to go? List it now of course! Anyone looking for a house in December is either dead on serious looking for a new home or scoping for Holiday gifts – if the property has been staged well, they’ll not be finding many of the gifts laying about…


  7. Katie Wethman, CPA, MBA, REALTORĀ® - Metro Washington, DC, Real Estate says:

    What about a combination strategy…assuming the highest chance of selling is in the first few weeks (makes sense)…list for 6 months with a stipulation that 1 month is now (and advertise as such), then tempoff for a few months?

    I would think that in any analysis you’d need to look at the chance that it wouldn’t sell in the slower period, rather than just looking at those that did. So the first question is not ‘how much more will you get if it sells now’ but rather ‘what are the chances it WILL it sell now’.

    I’d love to also see the related question addressed–what if the listing is up for renewal TODAY after it’s been on for 4 months already (let’s assume it’s priced competitively and/or the seller cannot go any lower)? Would you pull it off and wait til January or even later? e.g., PRO – more serious buyers in winter, CON – continues to increase DOM, etc. Is the small chance of finding a buyer worth the risk of sitting til spring with a DOM that’s twice as high?

    Good questions, Frank. Looking forward to reading more about this.

  8. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    Hey Katie,

    In regards to the, “if it was up for renewal” question, I take that the same as “putting it temporarily off” with an active listing.

    I wouldn’t do that. My main question here is about the WOW factor for the first 2 weeks of a listing. You only get one chance for that. I also remember helping a client buy in Dec and somebody put their listing “temp off” and they missed the sale. It cost them $20k since the other house closed lower so they had to drop their list.


  9. Nancy Pav says:


    I know that Arlington is different than Loudoun but we often see agents put into their new homes sales into MRIS at the end of the year and sometimes in January vs when they actually sold it which skews the prices…have you taken that into consideration?

  10. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    Good thinking. Yep, I removed all 0 Days on the Market listings.

  11. Tchaka Owen says:

    Wow, this is good stuff Frank. I must tell you that I’m shocked at the results in terms of DOM being shorter – I would have put money on December being a better month than January. The price does make sense because some people are eager to sell for tax reasons.

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