Q1. Why is it typically harder/more difficult to sell a home during the “off season” (fall/winter months)?
The term “off season” is somewhat of a misnomer. As we have seen in the last several years the seasons have had less to do with buying and selling and the state of the economy and interest rates have been playing a major role in home sales.
That being said, real estate is very local in nature. In some parts of the country it may be more difficult to sell homes due to weather conditions and other factors. During fall/winter most people are busy thinking about the holidays, school, meeting yearend deadlines etc. In general, I think the term “off season” is due to the public’s observation of fewer open houses and some homes going off the market during the fall/winter months and they believe that this indicates a slow market and a bad time to sell.
The statistics in my area actually show that year to date the average number of days on the market to sell is actually lowest in October.
In California we generally don’t have severe weather problems so selling your home during this time can have advantages. If you are listed during the fall/winter you will have less competition and fewer looky lou’s. People that are looking to buy a home in these months are usually serious buyers. These are the buyers that could not find a home, or were out bid during the earlier part of the year.
Q2. Do you expect this to be true for this year’s fall/winter months (and continuing into early 2014)? Why/why not? How will this year’s fall/winter “off season” be different from last year’s, in terms of home sales volume/activity,in your opinion?
If I had a crystal ball…..
This year we have had a lot going on. At the beginning of the year real estate sales and prices began to rise dramatically. We were back to the time of multiple offers at broker’s open houses. We turned to a sellers market over night and were starved for inventory. Interest rates were extremely favorable and a very large percentage of buyers in our market were international buyers.
They were buying for themselves, for investment or to flip. As the months went on pricing continued to get higher and many buyers were getting frustrated that they could not acquire a home due to the competition while some even put their search on hold due to the frenzy. Finally with rising inventory and rising interest rates the market began to cool down.
That being said this fall / winter, we are approaching a healthy neutral market. I think we may see some of the sellers that overpriced there homes during the upturn begin to reevaluate their pricing strategies and I believe the buyers that missed out due to multiple offers or all cash buyers will return to the market to buy. Currently housing affordability is at a very high level according to the California Association of Realtor’s Economist.
Q3. What are the pros and cons of attempting to list and sell a home during the fall/winter months? Please list a few examples for each.
When you are on the market and actively selling your home, you need to live differently. You need to have it spotless and almost staged 24/7 for a buyer that may want to stop buy on short notice. This can become more difficult during the end of the year because most people are decorating their homes and have all of their holiday decorations out.
If you have young children, they may be on break and at home making messes or teenagers taking finals before break. You may have out of town family and friends staying over. At work you may have yearend deadlines creeping up etc. Not to mention holiday entertaining, office parties and general merriment. Even a few of these things can stress people out without out having the addition of your home for sale.
If you can deal with the maintenance and the inconvenience of keeping your home ready to show, inventory is usually lower and it becomes a supply and demand issue. It is true that the pool of buyers is lower but I believe that the buyers that are out looking at these times are usually very serious.
Keller Williams Palos Verdes Realty
550 Deep Valley Drive, Suite 359
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274
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