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Spring Favors Sellers More than Buyers

By Brian Kline | May 10, 2016

Most people believe that spring is the best time to buy or sell a home. But is it or isn't it? As with most events in life - "that depends". If you want to move while the children are out of school so that you can enroll them in a new school at the beginning of the school year, beginning your home search in late spring can make good sense. Or you may have little choice in the matter if your job transfers you to another city. Otherwise, you may want to reconsider when you begin house hunting

When Does the Spring Real Estate Market Heat Up?

The spring real estate market is affected by many variables. One of the variables that least affects the market is the date on the calendar. According to the calendar, the 2016 spring equinox occurred on March 20. But don't tell that to real estate agents. In the warmer and sunnier southern climates, springtime buyers and sellers begin showing up in larger numbers in January. It has more to do with the end of the holiday season than a date on the calendar.

For those in colder northern climates, it's more dependent on weather patterns. If the Philadelphia ground hog, Punxsutawney Phil, doesn't see his shadow on ground hog's day and accurately predicts the end of winter, real estate activity typically begins ramping up as buyers become excited to throw off the winter cabin fever. At the same time, sellers find the improving weather a good time to spruce up the yard from winter debris. Generally, many real estate professionals consider presidents day weekend, the beginning of the spring selling season.

That means we are already late in the spring real estate season. But does that really matter if you are a buyer?


Spring of 2016 Not Much Different Than Past Springs

Yes, there are two primary differences this spring but generally, activities have followed the spring markets of the past. The main aberrations have been a larger influx of homes coming onto the market (more inventory). But that hasn't translated into substantially more sales. Many sellers wanted to take advantage of the ongoing upward swing in prices. Many or most listed their homes for sale at or above market prices. Additionally, these sellers hoped that a hot spring selling season would bring bidding wars that further drove up prices. This did become reality in select markets that have consistently seen major upward trends in home prices regardless of the season.

Reality is that in smaller and less affluent markets this trend did not materialize. Potential buyers saw the upswing in prices and retreated from the market. Some areas this spring saw 30 or 40 people turning out for open houses. However, most of these potential buyers were actually tire-kickers. Once they saw that the increased inventory did not result in lower sales prices, these people retreated back to their rental units. Keep in mind that the biggest demographic of buyers are the Millennials. People under age 35 that only recently have been able to start meaningful careers following the depression. They simply don't have the savings and the financial wherewithal to make high down payments and afford the high mortgages (even at today's reasonable interest rates).

A Better Time to Buy Your Home

Spring is not necessarily the best time of the year for homebuyers. For the reasons listed above, the increase in inventory is accompanied by increased prices and more competition. RealtyTrac examined 32 million home and condo sales over the past 15 years. These findings showed that buyers that waited until October saw a 2.6 percent decrease in prices. The study also found that April sales averaged a 1.2 percent increase in prices compared to fair market value.

What some buyers see as a draw back to autumn buying is that inventory decreases as listing periods end. While there is less inventory available, there is also less competition from other buyers. Sellers that relist homes in the fall are more motivated to complete the sale and are more flexible on price and terms.

Even with less inventory on the market in the fall, the important thing to remember is it only takes one house for you to fall in love with and that can come on the market at any time. You may spend more time looking for your ideal house during the slower markets but you are more likely to save tens of thousands on the sales price and receive better terms on the sale.

Photo Credit: NATIONAL SUGRAPHIC via Compfight cc

Please leave a comment if this article was helpful or if you have a question.

PhotoAuthor bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 10 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. With the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.

Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 30 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years with articles listed on Yahoo Finance, Benzinga, and uRBN. Brian is a regular contributor at Realty Biz News
  • 2 comments on “Spring Favors Sellers More than Buyers”

    1. I think that sellers listing their homes for values higher than what is realistic is derived from advice that they received from their real estate listing agent…….this is always not good advice and sometimes it sets up the situation for a frustrated seller.  

      As indicated, the influx of inventory (homes) is apparent but the demand is not being met by potential buyers. While seasonal selling does exist, so does realistic prices and a limited amount of buyers.  

      The word of advice is to follow what the market will bear in your community. Doing homework,  finding comparables of houses recently sold, watching other market indicators as a number of houses sold in your immediate area and watching the listing-selling prices was are all good ideas and smart moves on behalf of the seller.

      If you overprice your home in hopes of getting lucky, you run the risk of setting in motion a series of problematic events, some include that your house will sit on the market for months and months, not a good indicator as buyers will wonder what is the matter with this house that it hasn’t sold.

      As a result of  a dormant house, the price will need to come down and that too sends another message to a buyer…..not one that represents a potential of strength for the seller.  My advice is to price your house fairly and base that price on the immediate market conditions of your community.

      I’ve been the house flipping business for over 30 years and I found that a better chance exists if you follow the advice I’ve discussed above.  The market is true in certain areas because of the numbers, not because of wishful thinking.

      However!! ……. Having said what I said above, if you are looking to buy..... I have always made the best house buys in the calendar days between the Thanksgiving Holiday and New Year's Day.

      I know what I’m talking about here!

      I have bought over 300+ homes for my own account and every year I buy a house from a motivated seller just before Christmas.


      Because the majority of the Realtors and the cash buyer investors close up for the holiday season. The market gets very slow with all the hustle of the holidays, etc.

      You might think……. well, no kidding the market is slow at that time! There is snow, and ice and harsh weather conditions out there to slow the market down even further.

      True, but not where I live! Miami and Fort Lauderdale (where I live) and South Florida in general also comes to a grinding halt for sales most every year.

      Thats when you need to “Run it down and Kill it”. Make low offers at that slow time in the Holiday season, and you will be handsomely rewarded for your efforts while others are “decking the halls”.

      I have extensive experience in House Flipping, having witnessed the housing boom in the mid 2005 period, and currently. 

      I'd be happy to elaborate on this with the author or editor, or engage in conversation with anyone about it. Check out some of my blog posts here or feel free to contact me directly.

      1. Tom, Thanks for the solid input and good advice. Readers will benefit from what you provided.

        Brian Kline

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