Thinking of Selling in 2017?

Your “spring” market starts now.

If you’re contemplating selling your home in 2017, you may be generally aiming for the “spring market”—that post-freeze time of year when the ground has thawed, making way for crocuses and daffodils. The sun will be out longer and more folks will be out and about on foot: that seems ideal for strolling buyers to attend an open house.

While that conventional wisdom does reflect Boston area home buying seasons to some extent, the following considerations about the current market will inform how you best position your home for sale.


Housing shortage and buyer surplus

Over the past five years, the “spring market” has picked up as early as mid-January and mid-February—even with blizzards. The big reason: the greater Boston area (including Brookline and Cambridge and increasingly, outer-lying suburbs) is experiencing a shortage of housing.

The lack of homes to choose from leads to intense buyer competition as spring and summer unfold. Many buyers need to decide whether they’ll renew or forgo their lease and many families need to settle on a new home ahead of the next academic year.

Given the timing pressures and lack of options, more buyers are opting to search before the spring season heats up. And yes, weather does play a role: as long as folks can get out and about, many will gladly trek through the snow in order to avoid the impending high-season competition.

That means that for you as a seller, the season may start sooner and can stretch longer—even through the fall.

Increasing interest rates

Interest rates are likely to creep up in 2017. Over the past five years, buyers have benefited from historic low interest rates, allowing them to afford unprecedented amounts for increasingly pricey home purchases in and near Boston.

But with Fed rates likely to adjust upward gradually throughout 2017 (a good sign for the economy), the cost of borrowing will creep up for home buyers.

Will that immediately weaken buyer competition? Not likely. But will it soften sale prices over the course of the year? Possibly. So keep that in mind as you project out for your listing price.

If you need to sell in order to buy

Do you need to sell in conjunction with buying? If so, consider yourself part of that field of competing buyers.

Though your current home may sell quickly and profitably, realistically chart out your options for winning your goals on the buying side:

We may be able to tailor a strategy that allows you to land your new home ahead of listing your current one, without a contingency to sell. But the timing is key.

Some sellers who need to buy may hold the mindset that there will be more listings to choose from in the spring. While that may be true, it is also true that the proportion of earnest, ready buyers will increase.

Starting your search early will at least allow you the advantage of pursuing newly built or recently renovated homes during the winter that may be priced too high to sell quickly. Given the relatively slower fall/winter period, where many prospective buyers are just beginning to explore their options, properties priced high may not go under contract in the first or second week, allowing you room to negotiate with a seller (which can be rare during other times of the year).

Your priorities as a seller

So who are you as a seller? What are your top priorities?

  • Is it about finding the right home to transition to before selling?
  • Is it about selling in order to buy the next?
  • Or is it about simply maximizing the sale price?

Your priorities will determine how you enter the market. But know that your selling season will arrive sooner than you’d think.

If you’d like to begin brainstorming, let’s start the conversation now.