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Did Snow Slow February Sales?

March 19, 2014  |  by Chris Sicks

Does snow affect the local housing market? It seems so, but it’s not always as clear as you might think.

The chart below compares ratified sales contracts with snowfall in January and February. As you probably know, February is almost always a better sales month than January. Yet a lot of snow can cause February sales to drop lower than January’s sales. That happened three times since 1991—in 2003, 2007, and 2010.

But it didn’t happen this year. Perhaps because January was also snowy, we saw sales go up this February instead of down in the DC metro area.

Snow can also contribute to a drop in sales activity compared to the year prior. That actually did happen this year.

I need to point out, of course, that it would be too simplistic to say that snow alone can push the market up and down. Home listings were up 2 percent in the Baltimore area in February, for example. At the same time, it is easier to list a home for sale than to get out and shop for one.

Personally speaking, I bought a home during that huge snowstorm in February 2003, and then sold it during the bigger snowstorm of February 2010. We saw plenty of traffic and sold in two days despite two feet of snow.

How about you? What did you and your clients see and say during the past two months? What was the effect of the snow from where you sit? Please comment below.

Contracts_SnowFall

Note: In the above chart, “Contracts” are Pending Sales for DC Metro and “Snow” is snowfall in inches according to measurements taken at Reagan National Airport. Contract numbers in red indicate when contracts in February were less than January, and Snow numbers in green indicate when the snowfall was greater in February than in January.


—Chris Sicks has reported on the Washington-Baltimore real estate market for 20 years. Contact him at csicks@gmail.com.

Posted in Blog, Market Statistics

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4 responses to “Did Snow Slow February Sales?”

  1. JAK says:

    One other factor that would be interesting to track is the temperature. It seems that this has been one of the area's coldest winter in 30 years, which may be a contributing factor in the decrease of YoY sales.

  2. Susan Pruden says:

    In my marketplace in Prince Georges County, I saw a lot of contracts written in February, but most of them were properties that have been on the market for a long time and the price of finally gotten down to the level where buyers were willing to make an offer. My husband likens it to finally eating the broken cookies at the bottom of the bag.

  3. Ross says:

    February 2013 had 3.57% more days than February 2014, not an insignificant number when looking at year-over-year figures.

  4. Most of my contract were in Nov. and Dec. but settled in February

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