The real estate market fluctuates every year regardless of the state of the economy or the current condition of the real estate market. These cyclical fluctuations have traditionally fallen along the seasonal calendar year. Spring and summer are the best times to sell, fall is okay and the winter months are usually the slowest time of the selling season. Another way to look at this cyclical selling season is by comparing it to the seasons of flowering plants and convertible cars. The time of the year to sell your house is when plants are blooming and pretty, and when you have the urge to drive around in a convertible.
Cyclical Fluctuations In The Real Estate Market
Cyclical fluctuations are seasonal changes that occur in the market every year. While other market conditions may affect the extent of each fluctuation, these fluctuations still occur to some extent. While weather plays a factor, other factors such as holidays, vacations and the school calendar also play a part.
Spring Selling Season
Spring is the beginnings of the buying season so expect to see an increased volume of new listings during this time. In the spring, the weather gets warm, the flowers start to bloom and people venture out of their home and start spending more time doing outside activities. One of these activities is shopping for houses. During this time houses start to look more attractive because the lawn is green again, flowers are blooming and the days are bright and sunny. The school calendar also plays an advantage during the spring selling season. As school winds down, many homeowners want to move immediately after school ends so any change in school districts will not affect their child’s current school year. Buyers also like to start looking for houses during this season because they can move and get settled before the prime summer vacation season starts.
Summer Selling Season
The momentum of the spring season usually continues into the summer. This is the second best time to sell your house. The only reason summer is not as popular as the spring is because home sellers want to get in on the beginning of the sales season and not in the middle of it to allow as much time as possible to sell their house before the winter months. While vacations are usually popular during this time, don’t expect it to be a noticeable factor for the season as a whole.
Fall Selling Season
Better late than never. If you start your listing during the fall season, you had better aggressively price it to sell before the winter months. This isn’t the time to ride out the market if you’re a serious seller because winter is coming. School has already started and homebuyers with children may refrain from buying outside their current school district to avoid relocating their child to another school. During the beginning of this season, you can expect a small lull in the traffic your house gets due to the new school season starting and parents having to get into a routine with the new school year so they may not want to take on new challenges such as relocating during this time. Usually routines get established after the first 2-3 weeks of school. Of course once the kids are in school, there may be more free time available to parents to use for house hunting.
Winter Selling Season
The winter season is the slowest buying season. It’s cold, sometimes snowy, and filled with holidays, all things discouraging for the typical homebuyer. Expect to see bargain shoppers looking for deals during this time. Bargain shoppers like houses that remain unsold from the spring, summer and fall months. They are attracted to a high number of Days On Market (DOM) like sharks are to chum. The worst time during the winter season to sell, I like to describe as “running the gauntlet.” This period starts before Thanksgiving and continues until New Years Day. If you think about all of the shopping, cooking, travelling and such you have to do during these two months, why would you want to add packing up everything you own to that already long list of things to do? Many homeowners actually pull their listings off of the market during that time so they won’t be bothered by open houses or showings during the holiday season.
No matter what the current state of the economy or real estate market is in your area, you can always expect to see cyclical fluctuations occur in your local real estate market.
So, as soon as you start to notice a large number of people driving their convertibles with the top down and you can smell the aroma of blooming flowers in the air start looking for an agent. If you think you will need to do any repairs or improvements before you can sell your house, perform those remodeling projects during the winter months so you can be ready on day one of the selling season.
Remember the seasonality descriptions above assume all other things being equal. If rates are expected to rise in the future, or your area is experiencing a strong seller demand for houses, or a small inventory of houses available for sale in your area, or any other contributing factor not mentioned that works in your favor, then now may be the best time to sell.
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Are these trends a country ride generalization or specific to a certain region? Would these trends also apply to Austin, Texas? I have been told that that Austin has one of the most stable housing markets in the country right now.
Yes, these are definitely national trends. Most of the timing is based on the school year calendar and vacation times. Weather also plays a role, but the effect is more severe where the weather is more severe. All in all, hot markets are hot markets regardless of the season. These factors may dampen the hot market surge, but it won’t kill it. When I wrote this article, I had the Dallas, Fort Worth real estate market in mind. Of course, none of this applies if a big factory is moving in and 1000s of relocating employees are looking for housing in the area where the plant is located.