It is a truism in real estate that you don’t want to sell a home in mid-winter because sold prices are lower and the remaining housing inventory on the market just sits through the winter holiday months with no activity. Similarly, buyers often hold off buying in winter because of that same low level of inventory. While there may be some truth to these opinions, there is also another side to selling or buying during the winter months.
We don’t have complete data for the December market yet, but we do have almost half a month’s worth of data for it. So, armed with that data—as well as the complete data from the previous three months—I decided to look a little more closely at what happens to housing inventory in the early winter. This is shown in the adjacent table and chart.
I looked at homes that went on the market sometime during the month of September, which is the time of the traditional second market peak of the year, the fall season. By mid-December, 54 percent of these homes had gone under contract after an average of just 14 days on the market (true for all price levels). Another 15 percent of these homes had gone under contract after 40 days on the market. Seventeen percent of these homes had been pulled from the market (temporarily off, listing expired, or withdrawn) after an average of 73 days on the market, and 14 percent were still active after an average of 82 days on the market.
What would my advice be to these sellers with homes still active on the market? Stick it out! Some buyers in the winter months may be shopping for holiday bargains, but others are looking because they need to move now. So you may actually benefit from dwindling inventory as there is less competition from other properties, and your property may stand out more. (Of course, you may also need to consider a price adjustment if you’ve been getting a decent number of showings but no offers. If you’re getting NO showings, then you DEFINITELY need to lower your asking price!)
And buyers? You may also benefit from lower inventory on the market during the winter, because there will also be fewer buyers out there driving prices up. Don’t let the cold weather keep you inside.
Happy holidays to you.
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 home buyers. Sign up at meetup.com.