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Dec. 11, 2017
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When is the best time to list my lake house?

By Bev Knight
 
Most people believe that the optimal time to list your house is in the spring. There is no question that spring is the busiest real estate market especially on the lake; but, depending on your home’s assets and liabilities, there may be a better time to list. In truth, lake houses sell year-round, so there really isn’t a bad time; but some times are better than others for certain types of homes. Here are some considerations for the timing of your listing.
 
Most lake buyers want a view of the lake. The better the view, the higher the price tag. If you only have a winter view, you should definitely list after the leaves are off the trees, usually late November. If that time of year doesn’t work for you, talk to your Realtor about taking lake pictures when the view is the best. Then, when the listing does start, at least you will be able to show the seasonal view.

Unless you are a great photographer, let the pros take those pictures. It’s hard to capture a lake view through trees because the camera wants to focus on the trees instead of the view beyond. A professional photographer will have a lens that can focus on the background (view) rather than the foreground (trees). A winter picture is not as valuable as the real thing, but at least potential buyers can see that you do have a seasonal view of the lake. More view equals a higher sales price. So, maximize the view if you can.
 
Homes with shallow water docks are usually harder to sell. Typically, the lake is higher in the summer; so, that might be the best season for your sale. This past year was an exception, but normally the spring rain raises the lake level in time for early summer. Buyers remember the 100-year drought and the depressing pictures that were all over the news. You want your cove to look as deep as possible, so it makes sense to take advantage of the highest lake levels. Either way, don’t forget to move your dock to keep it in the deepest possible water. Otherwise, the house will be difficult to sell.
 
If your house falls into the hard-to-sell category for any reason, you may not want to list in the spring. Yes, there are more buyers, but there are also more sellers. Your house will be compared to a higher number of competitive properties and may not show favorably in that comparison. Believe it or not, the best time to sell a home with problems is often in the cold-weather months. Why? Because people who brave the cold are serious buyers with checkbooks in-hand. They have fewer homes to choose from, so they are often less picky. 
 
Right now, there is a shortage of lake homes in the lower price ranges. A six month’s supply of homes for sale is considered a neutral market (neither a buyer’s nor seller’s market). For Lake Lanier homes under $500,000, there is just over four months supply of inventory which means it’s a seller’s market.

Most recently, local agents have seen multiple offers on reasonably priced homes in this price range. There are fewer buyers in the higher price ranges; so, depending on how high the price is, it is either a neutral market for a mid-priced home or a buyer’s market for the highest 10 percent of homes. Don’t be discouraged if you have a luxury home. While it’s not yet a seller’s market yet, that category of real estate is the healthiest it has been in years. If the economy remains stable and the stock market continues to be strong, we expect that market to be even better in 2018.
 
So what is the best time to list your lake house? Statistically speaking, 37 percent of Lanier homes sold over the course of a year are listed in the second quarter. Following close behind that, 36 percent are listed in the first quarter. That doesn’t mean that the homes close in that quarter, just that they are listed during that time. The busiest months for closings are about what you’d expect. For homes under $700,000, May has the most closings. For luxury homes above the $700,000 mark, June is the biggest month. That makes sense because higher price homes take longer to sell. 
 
For people who have already found their next house, the number of days on the market may be a major consideration. The period with the shortest average number of days on the market is the first quarter. It is still cold during that period, so those buyers are serious about making a purchase. They want to be in the house by spring, and they are willing to act quickly to get the right home. About half of the buyers of lake homes intend to use it as a residence. For those that have school-aged children, they usually prefer to close in the summer to minimize the kids’ stress in changing schools.
 
The take-away from all of these statistics is that there is not just one best time to list a lake house. Problematic homes are more likely to sell in the cold-weather months, while top-of-their-class homes are better equipped to weather the competition of a spring sale. View and water depth matter to home buyers, so you need to decide when is the best time to showcase your home’s assets while minimizing its liabilities. If it’s not clear what time is best for your home, talk to your real estate agent. He or she should know the buying patterns for lake homes like yours.


Bev Knight is lead agent for The Good Life Group, Lake Lanier specialists with Keller Williams Lanier Partners. They sell over $30 million in real estate per year, mostly on the lake. For more articles, visit her website at: www.HousesOnLanier.net




Posted online 12/1/17
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