Spring and summer are traditionally thought of as the busiest times in real estate. However, seasonal fluctuations often determine the level of activity in the real estate market, and some of the characteristics specific to autumn can make it the best time to buy a new home. The onset of colder weather and the return of normal schedules for most buyers can make many people reluctant to make the big move. This can leave astute buyers with the opportunity to find motivated sellers, less competition, and lower housing prices.
In many regions across the country, the real estate market slows down during the fall, as buyers focus on back-to-school activities and sports schedules. Typically, November and December are the slowest months for real estate activity. Therefore, you may have more buying power than usual and can possibly negotiate a lower asking price. In addition, many sellers may be more inclined to reduce their price in response to their home not attracting a buyer over the summer..
Lower prices on old inventory
Sellers tend to put their homes on the market in the spring and early summer, often with initial listing prices that are too ambitious. This sometimes results in price reductions throughout the summer months. These sellers have fewer chances to capture buyers after Labor Day, and by October, you are likely to find highly motivated sellers and prices below market value.
In some cases, there’s just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer. Not all homes on the market in fall are summer leftovers: some people need to sell because the timing is right; some were having a home built and it’s now ready; and some need to move because of a job. Fall often means new inventory as well.
Less competition in the market
Families who want to be in a new home by the time school starts back up are no longer shopping in the market. That translates into less competition and more opportunities for buyers. You’ll likely notice fewer buyers at open houses, which could signal a great opportunity to make your move. This can put you in a great position to negotiate.
While a home is where an owner lives and makes memories, it is also an investment with tax consequences. A seller may want to take advantage of a gain or loss during this tax year, so you might find homeowners looking to make deals so they can close before December 31. Don’t be afraid to ask why the seller is selling, and look for listings that offer incentives to close before the end of the year. Many sellers are very motivated to sell before the holidays. If possible, buyers should let these sellers know that they can close before Thanksgiving or before the school winter break.
The holiday factor
As the holidays approach, sellers are eager to close so they can move on to planning their parties and events. For example, if a home has not sold by November, the seller is likely motivated to be done with the disruptions caused by listing a home for sale. Likewise, many buyers aim to close on a home before the holiday season. Getting settled into a new home for the holidays can heighten your mood -- there's nothing like entertaining your family and friends in your new home.
In any season, buyers and sellers should rely on the expertise of a skilled real estate agent to handle all of the details and promote their clients’ best interests. During the fall and winter, it’s just as crucial to get a professional to assist you in your home search or position your home correctly in the market. We’re here to help when you’re ready!