By Barbara Messer, ninemsn Money
Every spring, buyers and sellers who hibernated during the winter months return to the market. Yet contrary to popular belief, spring may not be the best time to sell your property at the highest price.
"If you asked the average person, nine out of 10 would say that spring is the best time to sell. In reality, I honestly don't think it makes a lot of difference," says Michael Levy, director at R&W in Clovelly, Sydney.
He admits sunny weather reveals properties in their best light. "There's no question that spring is the nicest time to view properties because gardens are blooming and the sun is shining. But do you get a better price? Probably not," he says.
The reason, according to Levy, relates to supply and demand. With more properties for sale in spring, buyers are in a better bargaining position if they miss out on one property this weekend, there'll be others on sale next weekend.
On the other hand, buyers who endure drizzly weather and thundering skies aren't window-shopping they're serious buyers. And with fewer properties to choose from in winter, they may be prepared to pay a premium.
Peter Hickey, senior agent at Buxton Sandringham in Melbourne, believes mid-winter and mid-summer are good times to sell and avoid the flood of listings that arrive each spring and autumn.
"If you're a buyer, you want to be out there when there's as much stock as possible because extra choice gives you more bargaining leverage," Hickey says.
"But if you're a seller, remember that buyers don't stop looking because the weather's bad. Most people want to spend two or three months house-hunting at the very most, especially if they've got young families, and if there are only a few homes to choose from in winter, they may pay more."
The cons of selling in winter include unreliable weather, and buyers who sniff out sellers' willingness to negotiate when they realise very few buyers are around.
In the US, many agents claim homes sell for 3 percent more than the annual average price in early summer, but drop 3 percent below the average in winter.
In Australia, however, location plays a major role in seasonal buying trends. Coastal properties do look best in spring or summer, but country properties or ski lodges may actually appear more enticing in winter.
In popular areas like Sydney's eastern suburbs, "buying is not so seasonal because competition is strong all year round," says Anita Bloomfield, senior sales consultant at LJ Hooker in Randwick.
"The only time the market is dead to the world is at Christmas. No-one wants to exchange and move over the holiday season everyone wants to settle and unpack in time for Christmas dinner."
Levy agrees, saying sellers are more likely to compromise on price between mid-December and mid-January, when fewer buyers are around.
It's arguably more important to dodge public holidays and major events such as Easter, Christmas, AFL grand final day or Melbourne Cup long weekend, when buyers are all but non-existent.
Bloomfield says it's up to individuals to assess the merits of selling in spring or autumn versus winter or summer.
"Spring is typically the season when sellers come onto the market because people think their property will attract more buyers," Bloomfield says. "But it's important to assess the pros and cons of each season the best time of year for selling really depends on individual circumstances."