If you are selling your home in Weston, Wellesley or the surrounding towns, the Spring market is just ahead of us and is traditionally the best time to sell your house. The timing of the Spring* market is something that sellers often ponder and question in anticipation of putting their homes on the market. Adding to the complexity of the issue is that the timing of the Spring market varies depending on several factors.The first of which is the town/market size. Generally the real estate markets in larger towns like Wellesley and Newton will start a bit earlier in the year, i.e. mid-late January. The smaller towns like Weston and Dover usually begin later in the season, i.e. after February vacation week. The winter weather also influences the timing as do sellers' personal goals and objectives about selling their homes (more on that later). The other factor that can strongly influence the timing of the Spring market is the state of the union and the world at large. For example, a downturn in the economy can slow the start of the Spring market. Similarly an upturn in consumer confidence can boost activity resulting in an earlier onset of the Spring market. Anything can happen.
For these purposes, let's take away some of the uncertainty. We'll say that the economy and consumer confidence are stable. The weather is typical - some snow but not excessive snow and ice making streets and walkways treacherous. And we'll just focus on one town - Weston, my hometown of course. So we've controlled the uncertainties a bit and focused on one town/market - this should allow us to analyze the situation in a less complicated way.
Now let's get started.... Here are some questions and thoughts to consider before you putting your home on the market, which I'm hoping will help in the planning and timeline of your home selling process:
What is your personal strategy for selling your home? Do you want to beat the competition (i.e. when there are less listings on the market with which to compete) or maximize the number of buyers/fully optimize the spring market? The answer to this question very clearly defines when best to put your house on the market. In Weston, if you want to beat the competition, you should list your house in January. The buyers won't be out in droves, but neither will multitudes of competitive listings. And there will still be buyers looking and ready to buy. On the other hand, if you want to maximize the number of buyers who are looking, thus optimizing the Spring market, then you need to wait until the end of February. At this time, however, you will face more competition and more listings with which to compete.
What - or who - makes the Spring market? The true essence of the Spring market is when the actions of buyers and sellers are in balance and working productively and successfully together. But this balance doesn't happen at first. So what sets it in motion - is it the actions of buyers or sellers? This is similar to the question,"Which came first - the chicken or the egg?" If the buyers are out in droves, will this motivate sellers to get their homes on the market? 100% YES! On the other hand, if listings come on the market in full force, will that drive the market and compel buyers to start looking given that their choices have increased many-fold? Most likely, yes, but not as compellingly as the former scenario. Basically I am slightly favoring the buyers as the makers of the market. And as I reflect on this, I realize that this is likely because we have been in a market for the last few years where the buyers have generally had more power than the sellers. But what about those days when bidding wars often happened the first day a property was introduced to the market? In those days, the sellers really set the market. Interesting....
When does the Spring market start? As mentioned above, this not only varies by town, but it also varies by weather. In Weston during a typical winter, the Spring market doesn't usually kick into gear until after February's school vacation week. And yet, last year (2012) with the warm temperatures and lack of snow and ice, we had some strong activity in January. But in 2011 when we were deluged with snow and ice and more and more of it each week, the market didn't truly get into gear until late March/early April.
When does the Spring market end? Believe it or not, this is usually easier to predict than the start of the market. Furthermore it's mostly the same for all of the towns. What generally happens is that in mid-late May, people become distracted with end-of-the-year activities, graduations and summer vacations, and they turn their attention and focus away from the market. Sometimes the market can extend into the summer, but the general rule is that Memorial Day marks the traditional end to the Spring market and our busiest time of the year.... As I like to say, buyers buy homes every day of the year, but in our town of Weston, the traditional Spring market runs from late February through mid-late May. So keep this in mind when planning to sell your home. If you don't get your house on the market until mid-June, you will most certainly not be fully optimizing the Spring market.
And finally, as you probably know, the real estate market is not a business of science but instead is an art-form. In fact, the market can basically only be predicted when the activity is happening or just after it has happened - almost never in advance. Because once you try to predict in advance, something unexpected happens - an upturn in the economy, a downturn in consumer confidence, a world event and on and on - which sets change in motion. So my last piece of advice is that when something shifts with the market thus altering buyer market activity, be prepared to act accordingly and shift with the change as much as you possibly can.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever been a Spring-market seller? And if so, what did you find about the timing of the market? Do you feel that you listed your home at a time that optimized the Spring market? I can't wait to hear....
For more information on this or on the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (781-267-2844 or www.homesalesbylisa.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.
* As an aside, the Spring real estate market does not coincide timing-wise with the Spring season, which this year runs from March 20 through June 21.