Why Sell in the Fall?

by Karen Briscoe
November 4, 2013

The primary reason why an owner should sell real estate is because it is the right time for their particular situation. In any given market at any given time there are buyers ready, willing and able to purchase real estate. However, many Sellers want to “time the market” thinking that if they do so they will optimize what they will realize on the sale of their home. As a professional Realtor®, I’m frequently asked the question: “Why sell in the fall? Should I wait until the spring?”

This past week I listed a home in Vienna, Virginia for $1.2 million. When I met with the owners they asked me whether I thought they should wait until spring. I shared with them that the spring is not necessarily the “perfect” time to sell real estate. One of the challenges of the spring market is there is typically a lot more inventory coming on the market, thus more competition. Thus one of the corresponding benefits can be less competition.

The Virginia area is just as gorgeous in the fall as in the spring. This time of year the trees are just ripe with fall colors of red, oranges and yellows – the setting is just captivating. Further, because appraisers must select comparables from the previous 6 months, those coming from the stronger spring and summer markets often are of better values. Waiting until the spring means comparables often reflect softer winter month values.

From personal experience, the last personal home my husband and I purchased was during the weekend before Thanksgiving and because we ratified on a contract on that town home, we put our single family home on the market the day before Thanksgiving. The timing worked out great for our family as my husband was able to take time off of work during the holidays to handle the details of packing, moving and getting set up in our new home.
In January 2014 the Consumer Finance Protection Board rule adopted by the Dodd-Frank Act goes into effect and will impact all residential mortgage loan applications. In short, lending requirements are going to be more stringent. For example, debt to income ratio caps across the board for borrowers will make it more difficult to qualify for a loan. The Washington Post Real estate guide on Saturday, November 2, 2013 included an article that speaks to a couple of the changes that are coming in 2014 that could very well make the upcoming spring real estate market not as strong (see link below to the article).

The article addresses the possibility that “jumbo” conforming loans for the Washington DC metro area will be adjusted from $625,500 to $600,000. The last time there was a change it went from around $725k to the current $625,500 and in my professional opinion had a major negative impact on the market in terms of buyer’s ability to obtain financing.


The good news for my clients in Vienna, VA is that they listened to me as a professional Realtor® and we hit the market on Monday, secured a very strong offer by Friday and were fully ratified by Saturday – all in less than one week. So yes Sellers, fall can be a very good time to sell real estate. Good houses priced correctly for the market sell in all seasons.

How to know whether to sell now? The best guidance is obtained from a professional Realtor® that is actively involved in your marketplace. If you are in the Northern Virginia, Washington DC or suburban Maryland area, please contact Karen Briscoe and Lizzy Conroy with the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Realty Group, Keller Williams Realty at 703-734-0192 or Homes@HBCRealtyGroup.com as we would be delighted to be of assistance. Or visit our website for more information at www.HBCRealtyGroup.com.

Karen Briscoe is Principal of the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group (HBC) and author of "Real Estate Success in 5 Minutes a Day". She is an Associate Broker in Virginia, a Certified Luxury Home Market Specialist, and a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors. Karen began her real estate career developing residential lots with the Trammel Crow Company in Dallas, and in commercial real estate with The Staubach Company in the Washington, DC Metro area. Karen has a Masters Degree from Southern Methodist University and her BA from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri – her hometown.
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