We have all heard it before: a real estate season can make all the difference in buying and selling. In the last decade alone, we have seen the real estate market extend to both ends of the spectrum. While it’s currently firing on all cylinders at the moment, 2007 saw what would be the onset of one of the worst recessions in American history.
It’s worth noting, however, that cyclical trends aren’t relegated to decades alone; they can take place within a period as short as one year. Otherwise known as real estate seasonality trends, predictable indicators may be seen between seasons. In fact, each real estate season has become synonymous with a different market phase. And while there are certainly exceptions to the rule, whether you are buying or selling will typically look different from season to season.
Are you caught up on your real estate seasonality? If you are looking to buy or sell in the near future, you may want to see what time of the year works best for you.
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The best month to buy a house has less to do with the time of the year, and more to do with when the buyer is comfortable and ready. Therefore, the best month to buy a house is when the prospective buyer is ready and willing to make the leap to homeownership. That said, there are better months of the year for price-sensitive shoppers to pay attention to. In particular, January is a great month to buy a home if you are looking for a “good” price. If for nothing else, data suggests the summer months are the busiest, and therefore have more competition driving up prices. On the other hand, winter months tend to be harder for buyers to get out a look for homes, which means there’s less competition. As it turns out, January is a great month to consider buying a house. By that time, activity throughout the year has died down, and sellers are more desperate then ever to complete a deal. There’s a good chance sellers in January will reduce prices simply to sell the home. Consequently, the more time a home sits on the market, the more negotiating power a buyer will have.
The worst month to buy a house is any of the summer months. More specifically, however, April appears to be when prices tend to peak due to local competition. Thanks, in large part, to the transition from spring to summer, April has the honor of being the busiest month of the year to buy a home. As a result, it’s safe to assume April will also have the most competition. Sellers are, therefore, allowed to take advantage of the busy marketplace and increase prices. That, and with all the inventory coming onto the market, buyers don’t really have all that much negotiation power.
With the summer real estate market just around the corner, it’s obvious why the hottest season of the year will start things off, just look at the real estate marketing trends. Besides its imminent approach, however, summer represents a special time of the year for the real estate market. Piggybacking off of the heels of spring, summer usually represents the pinnacle of real estate seasonality and the housing market. If for nothing else, it’s the time of year when most people are actively participating in the housing market. Buyers typically aren’t bound by school commitments, nor is cold weather restricting them from looking at properties. All things considered, summer has the fewest reasons for people not to shop for a new home, and you had better believe sellers know that.
Summer has inherently become synonymous with competition. Both buyers and sellers are competing over, well, buyers and sellers. As a result, we are made privy to one of the most enigmatic phenomena of the entire real estate market: competition. On the one hand, sellers are well aware of the fact that competition over their properties can result in a higher asking price. It’s worth noting, however, that buyers aren’t the only ones competing: Sellers, as it turns out, must compete with other sellers to receive the business of buyers. So in a sense, everyone is competing with everyone.
Competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing for those trying to make moves over the summer. In reality, competition tips the scale in favor of those that are prepared. Those that can identify the motivation of the other party are more likely to go into a respective deal with an inherent degree of leverage; leverage that can very easily favor both buyers or sellers. The trick is to mind due diligence and educate yourself on the task at hand.
Are you ready for the summer real estate market? What you don’t know could hurt you. However, it’s true what they say: knowledge is power. Educate yourself on real estate seasonality and go into this summer selling season with confidence.
The fall real estate market, while still a beneficiary of hotter weather in select geographical locations, represents the end of the busiest time of the year. And while both buying and selling activity can still be seen with some regularity at this time of the year, it’s safe to assume the market has already peaked. But what does that mean for those looking to buy or sell in the fall? What should those looking to make a move in the fall expect from the market?
As it turns out, real estate seasonality tends to favor those in a position to buy when the weather starts to cool off a bit. And while there are certainly exceptions to the rule, you will notice a few factors that tip the scale in favor of buyers. Namely, competition typically sees a steep decline after the summer rush. Most people that want to buy a home have probably already done so by the time September comes around. And, as I am sure you are aware, the laws of supply and demand dictate that lower demand will almost always result in a lower price point. It’s at this time that buyers tend to stop competing with other buyers and homeowners actually start competing for the attention of prospective owners. As a result, homes tend to drop in price the farther they are removed from the summer months.
It also stands to reason that homes that aren’t able to sell over the course of summer must reevaluate their current marketing strategy. Namely, price drops. There is no reason to believe a home that doesn’t sell in summer won’t need to drop its price point to attract buyers. And if you play your cards right, that buyer could be you.
For many of the same reasons real estate seasonality tends to favor buyers in the fall, winter has become synonymous with a great time to buy. However, the deals you may find in the colder months have less to do with price and more to do with competition, or lack thereof. You see, it’s become commonplace for the majority of prospective buyers to actively participate in the market when not only the weather permits, but lifestyle choices as well. Not only are a great deal of geographical regions hampered by severe cold at this time of the year, but you have to remember that there is a lot going on between December. and March. People’s excuses for not buying homes run the gamut from holidays to school commitments (their own or their children’s).
It’s safe to assume there is a lot less competition over the course of winter, but that doesn’t mean real estate seasonality forces the entire market to go on sabbatical. Instead of hibernating for winter, those intent on buying a home could be rewarded nicely for their efforts over the slower months. If for nothing else, there are so few people looking to buy that sellers can’t help but shave a couple of dollars off their asking price to ensure a timely transaction. In fact, it’s at this time of the year buyers could find themselves coveted by sellers.
While those looking to buy a home may covet the cold thaw of winter because of its propensity towards lower prices and less competition, sellers should take solace in the fact that warmer months tend to work more in their favor. As the weather heats up, so too does the selling market, and spring is no exception. It’s at this time of the year that more people start to amp up their home buying efforts. Not only are schools due to be out for summer, but the cold temperatures of winter are no longer enough to keep people indoors. For all intents and purposes, spring marks the time of year when buyers are expected to come out in droves, and sellers have come to expect just that.
Not surprisingly, spring has become synonymous with competition. It’s worth noting, however, that while competition may hurt buyers, it is a seller’s best friend. Remember my brief lesson on supply and demand? When there is growing demand in a limited inventory market, sellers can easily get away with increasing their asking price. In fact, depending on the area and the amount of interest, you may find buyers bidding prices up just to get into a house they deem worthy to be a home.
Home prices are going down in 2020. In response to the Coronavirus, “shelter-in-place” orders have significantly reduced market activity. Not only were real estate agents and Realtors considered non-essential workers, but buyers and sellers have remained on the sideline, for the most part.
In response to the market retraction, the median home value peaked around $248,000 in March, according to Zillow. Three months later, in June, the median home value was about $4,000 less than in March, which represents a decline of 1.6%. The decline appears to be in line with what many people expected, but it looks as if it is only going to be temporary. While prices have dropped, demand still remains intact. Those looking to buy homes before the pandemic represent pent-up demand, and will look to take action sooner rather than later. As a result, the demand will lead to competition, and drive prices up to previous highs by the end of the year.
In addition to pent-up demand, the lack of inventory that has driven up prices for a decade will persist. If anything, the pandemic has forced builders to stop working, creating an even bigger inventory shortage. The lack of homes (alone) will most likely drive prices up by the end of 2020.
Real estate seasonality isn’t rocket science; however, it does take some familiarity with the concept to really understand how the market works. Those that are, more or less, unfamiliar with real estate seasonality could find their efforts going to waste. On the other hand, those that have a good grasp on the best times of the year to buy and sell could find that they have an advantage over the competition. So the next time you go to buy or sell a home, make sure it’s the right time.