The Fall vs. Spring Real Estate Seasons

If you follow news about residential real estate on a regular basis, no doubt your head is spinning trying to make sense of it all. So much seems contradictory from day to day, if not hour to hour. As pointed out in this space repeatedly, there is no monolithic “real estate market” nationally or even regionally. Each town and price range has its own story to tell. Perhaps, though, this is telling in and of itself; when the markets were booming, they seemed to be booming everywhere indeed.

The good news is that now that the boom years have ebbed, it is not necessarily bad all over. Recent news indicates that Boston-area home values are up for their second month in a row and, as expert Karl Case points out in a summation of the recent look at the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the regional values are only 15.3 percent off their 2005 peaks. “Only?” you might sarcastically ask. Well, the peaks were the peaks, right? In the real world, this is solid, and solidity is something most people will take nowadays. And if you examine some of the healthier local markets within the region, the news is even better.

And the fall is generally a good time to list your home. While spring is the height of the real estate market in terms of activity level with more listings and more buyers out there looking, the fall offers fewer buyers, to be certain, but also far less competition for sellers. And the buyers that are looking tend to be more serious and urgently searching than many of those who are just starting out searches in the spring. This urgency is also felt by sellers and their listing agents, though, here in New England, as the weather conspires with the holiday season to effectively shut down the selling season with what always seems to be a solid wall at Thanksgiving.

For some data, let’s take last fall in Lexington. For houses priced up to $1.2 million, there were 71 listings signed from Sept. 1-Dec. 1, 2010. The average market time for the listings was 89 days. Of those listings that were taken and sold (closed) before December 1, there were 12 sales with an average of 22 days on the market and within an average of 99 percent of the original asking price.

Contrast this with the spring market in Lexington with listings in the same price range from Feb. 1-July 1, 2011. This offers two more months, but the amount of listings shot up to 206 (listed at twice the rate of the fall listings), with an average market time of 82 days, roughly the same amount of time as the previous fall. Of those that were listed and sold during the same period, there were 83 closings, with an average of 34 days on the market, also within 99 percent of the original asking price, on average.

We have two great listings coming on this weekend that can serve as case studies, one in Lexington, and one in Belmont. Click the photos for more information:


Lexington Mid-Century Modern

Belmont Loft