The Best Time to Buy vs. The Best Time to Sell

Posted by Ed DePrato on Thursday, August 14th, 2014 at 1:19am.

I’m always amazed at how every time I talk to my stock broker, he seems to be telling me that I should be buying stock. “The market is going up – buy stock!” “The market has dropped – it’s a good time to buy more stock”. It makes me feel a bit uncomfortable hearing this advice because clearly it can’t always be a good time to be a buyer – nor can it always be a good time to be a seller.

As a Realtor I’m often asked “How’s the real estate market?” A fair question and one I love to talk about. But before answering ‘good’ or ‘bad’ I find it more helpful to know if the person asking plans to buy, sell, or invest. The reason is because what I know of current market activity is almost always good for one person and bad for another. If the market is sluggish and not much inventory is selling, it’s good for buyers and investors because they generally have more inventory to select from and more time to negotiate a favorable deal (this is a buyers’ market). However, when the market is robust and homes are selling fast with some selling over list price resulting from multiple offer (bidding war) situations, obviously the market is good for sellers (a sellers’ market).

The best time to buy a home should be as soon as you can afford to do so. Renters need to understand that they are paying a mortgage regardless of whether the mortgage is for a property they own or a property owned by someone else. That’s the reality.

Selling is another story. Sellers often have unique circumstances such as a commitment or desire to buy or build another home. So for these people the best time to sell will be dictated by the expected possession date on whatever they plan to buy.

But for those whose motivation is simply to sell for the most money possible, the Edmonton market is really quite predictable. In Edmonton, most sellers (and buyers) want to move in July or August when the kids are out of school and the weather is mild. Understanding that seller control inventory and knowing that most will try and time a sale to effect a possession in summer, a bulk of sellers will list their home for sale in spring (May and June). Buyers too want to move in July or August but begin the shopping process earlier – often January and February. But because the bulk of inventory is waiting to come available in May/June the buyers shopping earlier have less selection and are often competing to buy the best homes.

Home prices in Edmonton appreciate most from February to June. From July to December/January the resale market is generally flat – and often down in July/August from the peak in June. So if selling for the most money possible is your motivation then you’ll want to be SOLD some time between February and June.

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