Back in May, we considered the state of the market from a buyer’s perspective. Now it’s the home sellers’ turn. If you want to sell a property in the Mid-Atlantic region in the next few months, what can you expect?
Short answer: It would have been easier to sell in the spring. At the same time, plenty of homes are sold at the end of every year, so I’m not saying it’s a bad time to sell. We just need to get some perspective.
Real estate goes through seasonal changes every year. The spring is always busiest; the end of the year is always slowest.
The charts below compare the active spring market (March, April and May) to the last three months of the year, when things are more sedate.
There are two simple things I want you to notice in the figures for both the DC area and the Baltimore area:
1. Expect fewer buyers—If you have your home on the market during the next few months, you will see less buyer activity than you would have seen in the spring. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people will still be buying houses. But contracts dropped 33 percent last year from the spring to fall in the DC area, and 27 percent in the Baltimore area.
2. Expect more competition—Not surprisingly, the inventory of homes for sale also drops as the year comes to a close. Nonetheless, the level of competition you will face as a seller is going to be greater in October-December. Why? Because although the unsold inventory will decrease, it won’t go down not as much as sales will. Put another way, supply won’t fall as sharply as demand does.
As you know, real estate not only goes through seasonal changes within a given year, but it also moves through cycles from year to year. So although the next few months will be less-competitive than the spring was, it will be a much better sales climate than we saw a few years ago.
In the end there are at least two answers to the question, “Is it a good time to sell?”
Answer 1: Yes, it is—but not as good as the spring was.
Answer 2: Yes, it is—especially compared to a few years ago.
—Chris Sicks has written about the local real estate market for the past 20 years.