I’ve written before about the two Washington home-buying seasons, one in the spring and one in the fall. These are the seasons when the supply of homes is largest, but they’re also the seasons when median prices are highest. So how should a homebuyer time their search?
The graph shows two waves of home-buying activity: pending solds (where a ratified contract is in place) and solds (where there has been a closing on the home and transfer of title). Notice that the line for sold listings parallels the line for pending solds, but is a month behind. That’s because it takes about 30 days for a contract to close after it’s been ratified by the buying and selling parties.
The average homebuyer looks at 12 places before making a decision. If you’re in the market to buy right now, you only have a month and a half—through the end of April—before the spring home-buying frenzy begins, pushing median prices higher because of competition from other buyers. So get a move on. It may take you at least a month of looking to find a home that you like enough to put under contract.
If you don’t find something you like before the end of April, and you’re in no great hurry to buy, you’ll do better to wait until August to resume your search. While you won’t get the relative bargains of the winter and early spring seasons, you’ll still be paying less than if you buy during the more expensive spring market.
Ted Smith is a licensed Realtor with Real Living | at Home specializing in mid-city D.C. Reach him at TedSmithSellsDC@rlathome.com and follow him on Facebook, Youtube or @TedSmithSellsDC. You can also join him on monthly tours of mid-city neighborhood open houses, as well as monthly seminars geared toward first-time homebuyers. Sign up at meetup.com.