That’s right, there are some general rules of thumb when it comes to timing a real estate purchase or sale. We’re happy to share these with you, but you can’t forget that big events like what is happening in the stock market can potentially outweigh the seasonal patterns. There is no “one size fits all”. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced, local realtor in your corner for all your real estate transactions.
Although spring is traditionally the busiest season in the Bay Area real estate market, there is also a high level of activity that starts after Labor Day and runs up until the Thanksgiving holiday. These are part of the “normal” real estate calendar that buyers and sellers can use to their advantage unless they have time restraints due to a job relocation, school schedules or other major life events.
January and February: After the new year, buyers are anxious to get their house hunt rolling, but there isn’t much inventory yet. Before enough listings are on the market, competition has already gotten fierce and the buyers are bidding up prices. If selling this is a great time to get a jump on the competition…
March, April and May: This is the peak season for real estate. Competition is still high and prices are holding as well. Families with children like to buy and sell in the spring so they can move as soon as summer hits. And in the Bay Area especially, there is a lot of competition for the highest performing schools and families want to be established in their new home in time to qualify for their new schools.
June, July and August: The market starts to quiet down a bit in June and by August we’re seeing a lot less activity. People are busy finishing up last-minute vacations and getting the kids ready for, then started at school. Homes listed in August can sit on the market for a little longer and sellers need to be prepared for that. This is a good time to look for value if you’re a buyer.
September, October and November: We generally see a pretty good bump in market activity starting after Labor Day. We’ve got sellers who have been sitting on the sidelines for a month waiting to list their properties and buyers who can finally get back to house hunting now that summer is over and the kids are back in school.
December: This month is generally quiet but we think it’s still a fine time to sell if you need to. There is less competition on both sides and that can result in a pretty normal transaction after all. Others will choose to wait until later January or February to list as they know they’ll get peak prices in the spring. This is another good month to look for value if you’re a buyer.
What does this mean for prices? Historically prices rise each month from January through July and decline from August through December. In a normal market like the one that we’ve been moving into, where prices are increasing 3-5% annually, the price swings will be quite a bit smoother than when we were increasing 20% annually!
The Bottom Line: If you are looking to sell, the best time is typically going to be spring or autumn. There is more competition but we’ve seen the increase in demand more than make up for it. If you are looking to buy, August is a good time where sellers might be willing to deal, but September will give you more choices. December can be a good month too, because if someone has a home listed in December they most likely need to sell it soon.
Have questions? Reach out to Carol at (925) 487-2353 or at email@example.com. She’s experienced, professional and personal.