When and how things shift in the market…

Most people who have a passing interest in real estate will say there’s an accepted “schedule” of when is a good time to list your home, and when is a bad time. Painted with a broad brush (or maybe more like a professional grade 18” roller), this is mostly true. And for many years, I thought the same way.

Over time, I began to realize that in the greater Lynchburg market, there are a number of “micro-shifts,” which many buyers, sellers and even agents don’t discuss. Here now, let’s talk through the calendar and look closely at the widely accepted “norms” as well as the lesser-known nuances.

January-March: coldest and slowest time in the market. Don’t list now!

Of course, there is truth to this—yes, it’s the coldest time of the year, and yes, December/January is the trough in terms of new homes coming on the market. It’s the lowest point of inventory, generally speaking. But in terms of the first 3 months of the year, there are two factors that impact how the market acts.

The first is the weather: if we have an unusually warm February, buyers and sellers both get the itch to move and/or buy. Coming out of December and January, any hint of spring—however early—can trigger an uptick in activity. The second factor is Daylight Saving Time. When that weekend comes the first of March, suddenly buyers have time after work to go look at homes, and sellers have time to finish up projects inside and outside. Always look at the weather and Daylight Saving Time as market influencers.

Quick Stats: 25% of the homes listed in 2018 came on the market in this time period, and 20% of the homes that closed did so in the first 3 months.

April-June: the spring market. Use this time to get your house ready to sell. Think about listing in June, or wait until then to make an offer.

Yes, there will be more homes to choose from during these months than the months prior. But if you wait until April to start prepping your house, you could be behind. With good weather and low inventory, it might be smarter to look at April as the time to list. And buyers shouldn’t wait either. If you want to be educated and make a smart decision, you don’t want to be caught uninformed if things start picking up sooner than you expected.

Quick Stats: 30% of the homes listed last year were during this time period, and 28% of the homes that sold were in April and May.

July-September: hottest part of the year—everyone wants to be moved before school starts. Get out there and buy, buy, BUY!

Again, not entirely wrong. But here’s a big caveat—there’s a lot going on in these months. School is out, vacations start… and here’s a pro tip—the week of the 4th of July, literally everything stops. It’s like someone hits a huge PAUSE button in the market while everyone takes a few days off and forgets all about real estate.

From July 4th through the start of the new school year (the last 2 weeks of August) things are kind of hit-or-miss. Some activity, but unpredictable.
Then from the start of school through Labor Day, also very quiet. Everyone—and I mean EVERYONE—is adjusting to new daily schedules and trying to fit in the last few days of vacation. Life is in general upheaval until things settle down by the first week of September.

Quick Stats: 27% of the homes listed in 2018 came on the market in this time period, and 28% of the homes that closed did so in this quarter.

October-December: might as well quit and wait for next year.

Things are definitely slowing down during the last quarter. Fewer and fewer new homes are coming on the market. And buyers, if they haven’t found what they wanted, are starting to lose hope. But again, we often experience warm weather well into November, and the fall foliage in late October is a beautiful backdrop to photograph a new listing.

I see from Labor Day to Thanksgiving as a more gradual decline than most people think. Sure, from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day it’s quiet—and understandably so. But until mid-November at least, I think there are still good homes to choose from, and time to get moved in before it really gets chilly.

Quick Stats: 18% of the homes listed last year were during this time period, and 24% of the homes that closed were in the last quarter.

Putting those stats in line, you can see the swings aren’t as drastic as you may have believed:

1st quarter new listings: 25% Sales: 20%
2nd quarter new listings: 30% Sales: 28%
3rd quarter new listings: 27% Sales: 28%
4th quarter new listings: 18% Sales: 24%

Mark your calendar and keep these time frames in mind when you get ready to list or start looking to buy. And good luck!

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