Changes in the Wind

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Labor Day Weekend is behind us and schools are back in session. The shift to autumn conjures thoughts of apple-picking, pumpkin-carving and fall foliage. As the leaves begin to change and cold weather starts to creep in, shifts in the real estate market follow.

Typically, sellers begin to take their homes off the market during the colder months, often supported by the all too familiar adage that they’re waiting to put their house on the market in the spring because it’s the best time to sell. Repeated enough times this sentiment can settle in as reality — but is it fact or fiction?

From a historical perspective, yes, selling in the spring and moving in the summer has been a perfect arrangement for families. Moving during the summer allows families to transition and prepare for the new school year. Additionally, real estate agents boast that over 50 percent of homes are sold during the summer.

Today, however, more than half of all buyers aren’t married, and their decisions aren’t based upon school schedules. Selling in spring and summer isn’t as relevant as it used to be. Instead, it could be said that the best time to sell a home is during the colder months.

Most sellers assume buyers hibernate in the fall and winter. Yes, buyers may be hunkered down, however, many are inside and actively searching for homes online and driving around neighborhoods in the warmth of their vehicles. According to the National Association of Realtors, 95 percent of buyers used the internet in their home search process. If the right property goes on the market during the chilly months, a serious buyer will act.

Buyers active in the market during this time of the year are serious buyers, and serious buyers usually means serious offers. Further, there is less competition from other sellers who have chosen not to have their property on the market at this time of year. Less inventory means that, in many areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This also relates to fewer comparable homes for sale in each price point.

All these factors increase the probability for showings, raise the likelihood of an offer and improve the possibility of selling the home for the most amount of money possible. Winter closings may also be favorable as home buyers usually desire a quick closing for a varied assortment of motivations, including being settled in their new home for the holidays. An added push for home buyers this year is locking in on low mortgage rates as they continually and gradually increase.

Autumn is also a great time to take advantage of end-of-the-year sales to get the home ready to be placed on the market. There are bound to be improvements needed — whether it’s cleaning up the overgrown bush in the backyard or adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door to make it pop. Shop around at your local home improvement or hardware stores; you’d be surprised to learn how far a few dollars can go towards making your home stand out.

The same goes for moving companies. Summer is peak moving season. It’s a time when people are more likely to experience delays and service issues caused when moving companies reach full capacity and run short of trucks and labor. The probability of experiencing a service issue or delay in the fall goes way down.

Just like the seasons usher in change each year, the real estate marketplace is also constantly changing. Homes across the country and in the Midcoast area are bought and sold 365 days a year. With less inventory, high buyer demand and relatively low mortgage rates, this fall is a great time to buy and sell. If you, or someone you know, is considering buying, selling, or investing in real estate, talk with your trusted, expert realtor. They will be able to advise you based on your individual situation.