Whether you’re a buyer or seller, sometimes you don’t have the luxury of deciding when you need to move. A job relocation or school change may dictate when you must find a new place to live. If you’re renting a home, you certainly want to time the purchase of your new place with the end of your lease term in order to avoid penalties.

But if you do have a choice as to when you can move, the smart question to ask is, “when is the best time?” Surely the real estate market fluctuates over the course of a year and there is a best time for a transaction. In fact there is, depending on whether you’re buying or selling a home.

The real estate season generally runs from the end of March to the end of June each year. This makes sense, considering that many people want to move in conjunction with their children finishing eighth grade or high school or college, or transferring in from another school district at the end of the school year. Also, the spring season is one of renewal, with owners and would-be owners looking for a fresh start.

The spring season is a busy one for both buyers and sellers, but the dynamic favors sellers and it becomes a seller’s market. Even though there are a larger number of homes listed, buyers are looking for the best ones available early in the season and they are somewhat under pressure to buy something—anything—and close by July.

Real estate transactions slow down during the summer months as families take vacations and focus on getting their children into colleges. There is a slight uptick in September and October, then November and December set in with holidays and the cold. The absolute slowest times of the year for real estate are August and the months between November and February.

So with those being slow months, buyers have an advantage since there are so few of them. Sellers are eager to sell their homes at almost any price, and it becomes a buyer’s market. The disadvantage to buyers though is that the selection of homes is quite limited during those months. But if a gem does come on the market, it may come with a bit of a discount as well.

Buyers and sellers are constantly struggling with the best time to look, buy or sell. Every month of the year seems to have its advantages and disadvantages. My best advice to anyone is to focus on what you want to do and don’t worry about the time. If you can buy or list during the best months, great. Otherwise let me help you with your homework and look for the best possible outcome to your situation. A year from now you won’t be thinking about whether or not you bought or sold at the optimal time. You’ll be busy enjoying the benefits and pleasures of your new home.

Bo Twerdowsky

Real estate agent, self-professed computer geek, grammar policeman, proud father of two. Opinionated, questioning, intolerant of stuffy sorts devoid of a sense of humor.