To Sell Or Not To Sell, That Is the Question

Every year round this time I hear a lot of opinions on whether or not this is a good time to buy or sell a home. Most frequent topics are there are fewer sellers so I can ask a higher price or there are fewer buyers so I can get a better deal. Are you considering buying or selling, what’s your opinion?

The data for St Petersburg for this time over the last 2 years doesn’t support any seasonal influence in decisions to buy or sell real estate. The number of homes sold in December and January compared to the October and November is about the same – In Dec 2017 and Jan 2018 there were 1,406 homes sold. In the October/November immediately prior there were 1,335 homes sold, so we actually saw an increase during the holidays. In Dec 2016 and January 2017 there were 1,217 homes sold and 1,205 sold October and November of 2017, so a very minor increase during the holiday period. The sales data doesn’t support the idea that sales slow over the holidays.

Is is easier or more difficult to sell at this time of the year? Let’s look at the number of homes on the market in those months. 2016 October/November homes on the market averaged 2,283 for the two months, and December/January averaged 2,202. For 2017, October/November averaged 2,090 active listings, and 2,023 for December/January. In both years there was a slight drop in active listings from Oct/Nov to Dec/Jan.

So this shows us that there is less inventory available to buy in December and January, but not by much.

It’s hard to see the number of active buyer’s at any time, maybe we could get the number of mortgage applications, or Zillow or Realtor could share the number of searches in these months indicating a rise or fall in buyer activity. Anecdotally, I do not see fewer buyers or sellers at this time of year the – agents reading this, do you see the same?

So, the data tell us that there are slightly fewer listings during the holidays, and slightly more transactions during the holidays than immediately before. I think the differences are small and would not base any real estate decisions on these differences alone.

So where has this perception come from? A large number of buyers and sellers obviously have families and will favor end of the school year for moving. Additionally there is a focus on family over the holidays. Selling a home can be disruptive, with having to keep it in show condition all the time for that short notice showing. Having to deal with repairs or a negotiation or packing and movers will also be more disruptive while trying to prepare for the holidays and celebrations. On the buy side, buyers have the same considerations. There is no doubt the buying and selling process can be disruptive at an already busy time of the year.

Back to the question of should you be buying or selling at this time of the year. Is it possible to ask more for your home or to offer less?

For Sellers, there is less inventory available, so ask a higher price..right? Ultimately a buyer will pay market price, based on recent sold comps. In a rising market, this may mean asking more or giving fewer concessions – but that’s because the market is rising, not because of the time of the year. The same fundamental rules apply throughout the year…if a buyer perceives they can get more of what they want elsewhere for a similar price or the same for a lower price, they’ll move on. The fail safe in many cases is still the home will go through an appraisal which is how a lender will determine fair value.

For buyers, there are less buyers so ask for more concessions…right? Factor in that it’s unlikely the seller will get another offer til way into January.. right? Again, same as any other time of the year the seller and their realtor should be aware of what else is on the market and where their particular home is placed – features and benefits making it high or low demand compared to others. Given this a seller is unlikely to make more concessions than they would at any other time of the year.

One factor that can work both ways is motivation. If someone feels the have to move, then they may offer more concessions or pay more so they can address their motivation. Ah…no different to any other time of the year.

In conclusion, yes there is typically less inventory during the holidays and also fewer buyer’s…but this usually doesn’t translate into better deals or higher prices.

So what do we do with this information? It really depends on YOU. If you can stand the thought of keeping your home ready to show through the holidays, then list it. If you have time to keep searching for homes and go thorough the purchase process, all the while preparing for the holidays, then keep looking. Holidays and buying and selling a home can be stressful, doing both at the same time may not be for you – only you can decide – just don’t be pressured by market perception one way or the other.

I will plug the value of a realtor at this time of the year. If you are selling your home, your realtor should keep you apprised of what is happening with the market in you neighborhood and city, at least weekly – this will help you determine where you stand in the market and against the competition and fine tune pricing or negotiation as needed. If you are buying a home, your realtor should also be keeping you up to date with what else is on the market and what is selling within your criteria, enabling you to fine tune your buying strategy if needed.

As ever, if you are looking to buy or sell real estate in the St Petersburg, St Pete Beach, Tierra Verde, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, Seminole, Largo or Safety Harbor areas the contact me first. Likewise, if you just want coffee and a real estate conversation, then contact me or call/text me on 727.401.5997.