Houses listed for sale on a Thursday tend to sell more quickly, and at higher prices, than those listed on any other day of the week, research shows. But what's the best time of day to show a house?
Obviously, any time a would-be buyer wants to see your place is the "best" time to show it. If you are not willing to drop everything at a moment's notice, your potential buyers are just as likely to move on to the competition — perhaps never to return when it is more convenient for you.
"Show a home when the buyer wants to see it," recommends broker Scott Godzyk of Manchester, New Hampshire. "Some buyers work nights; others, days. Some work weekends, and on and on. So when a buyer has free time, when a buyer likes your home enough to want to see it, I say let him see it."
Godzyk offered this advice during a recent discussion on the ActiveRain real estate site. It seems he had just turned down a listing from a woman who only wanted to show her house an hour before sunset, so that she could turn on all the lights to create a better selling atmosphere.
Such a limitation hinders more than it helps, Godzyk said. Agent Larry Agranoff of Plainview, New York, agreed: "With limited showing hours, limited success."
But more specific suggestions on the ideal time to show a house varied widely. For example, agent Bill Roberts of Oceanside, California, prefers 2 p.m. Why? "No neighbors at home, the sun is up, the kids are still in school," he said.
Agent Kathleen Daniels of San Jose, California, likes the daytime, too, as does home stager Sharon Tara of New Hampshire.
"Showing homes in the dark is not a bright idea," Daniels said.
"Nice, natural sunlight is the best light to show the home," agreed Tara.
Still, sellers need to be ready anytime the phone rings. "If the seller won't accommodate a showing," reiterated Maryland agent Melissa Spittel, "it decreases the chance of an offer."
While you may not have a choice on when to show your house, you do have a choice of when to list it. And on that score, research from Redfin shows that places listed on Thursday sold for an average of $3,000 more than those listed on Monday. In fact, Monday was found to be the worst day of the week to enter listings into the multiple listing service.
For its analysis, the technology-based realty chain pored over more than 5 million homes listed and sold in 2017 and 2018.
In addition to commanding higher prices, Thursday-listed houses also sold five days faster than those listed on Sunday. Houses listed on Sunday took the longest to sell, Redfin found.
When you think about it, this makes perfect sense: A Thursday listing pops up just as potential customers are planning their weekends, when the majority of house-hunting happens. Wait till Friday, and plans might already have been made. List earlier in the week, and you risk your listing being eclipsed by fresher ones later on. Thursday is the sweet spot.
"Psychologists have found that people tend to best remember the last information they saw," Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather pointed out. "If you list on a Thursday, buyers will be more likely to see your listing ... right before they go out and tour over the weekend."
Homes listed on Sunday, meanwhile, tend to take the longest to sell, largely because buyers wait until the next weekend to restart their home search.
Looking at this another way, Thursday listings sold for about 0.74% more, relative to their listing prices, than those listed on Monday. (Remember, the study period was a time when sellers in many markets were fielding multiple offers.)
Finally, astute readers may have noticed there has been no mention here about the best month or date of the year to buy a house. The omission is purposeful, because studies that purport to show that a certain month or date is best are not really accurate.
Most such surveys look at the month sales contracts close, not the month in which they originated. A sale may not close for a month or two after the initial contract is signed. Consequently, the month the deal closes is relatively meaningless. Ditto for the date.
A case in point: ATTOM Data Solutions recently reported that the five best days to sell a home — that is, the days that command the largest premiums above the seller's asking price — are in May and June. But a closer look at the study's methodology reveals that the data comes from the dates the deeds are signed over to the buyer. And that takes place at closing — weeks, and sometimes months, after contracts are signed.
Lew Sichelman has been covering real estate for more than 50 years. He is a regular contributor to numerous shelter magazines and housing and housing-finance industry publications. Readers can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.