Monthly Myth: Wait Until the Fall to Buy, Spring is Too Busy.


It’s conventional wisdom. A supposed fact that’s so engrained in our thinking that we pretty much take it for granted. This myth, unfortunately, impacts how people buy and sell homes. It can influence your decision about not only entering the market as a buyer, but it could cause you to delay selling your home.

This belief in a particularly busy real estate season can impact behavior, in many cases causing people to avoid spring and wait until the fall to take action. But is there any truth to the myth? Is there really a spring busy season, and is it better to wait until later?

By looking at the data, we can finally come to a conclusion about this myth. 

Myth: Wait until the fall because spring is too busy.

 

Let’s just operate under the assumption that it’s true, that spring (and early summer) is in fact busier for home sales. In this case, it makes sense to wait until the fall. If spring is extremely busy, as a buyer you will face more competition for homes, which could mean you’ll pay more for a house or may have to purchase under terms that are less ideal.

As a seller, a busy season might mean your house could be buried under dozens, even hundreds of listings in your market, bringing less attention and fewer buyers to your property.

A busy spring selling season would mean real estate agents have less time to dedicate to your purchase or sale, appraisers may take longer finalizing their assessment, and backlogged inspections could take months to complete.

All of these assumptions are perfectly reasonable if spring is actually a busy season compared to the rest of the year.

But, as we’ll see, this is simply not the case.

 

Fact: There really is no off season for real estate and mortgages.

The truth is simple: Talk with most agents and industry professionals, and they’ll tell you that for a variety of reasons they can be busy all throughout out the year.

According to the below data, real estate sales essentially tend to be evenly distributed throughout the year. Yes, there are months with higher numbers than others, but overall, there is usually no drastic difference from one month to the next. The spring, which typically includes late March through June, usually has numbers that are right alongside summer, fall, and even winter.

To highlight this point, we’ll look at existing-home sales data from Trading Economics, which compiles easily accessible information about a variety of industries and sectors. We’ll look at a few different years to see if there is any accuracy to the spring busy season myth.

Note about selected years: For obvious reasons, we skipped the wild year of 2020 and went right back 2019 and 2018. Then, for variety’s sake, we jumped back to 1998, just to see if this randomly chosen year had any indication of a spring real estate season.

·2019: This pre-pandemic year saw steady numbers from start to finish. The slowest month (at least for existing-home sales) was January, which had 4.9 million existing homes sold during a month most consider a slow time for the industry. The busiest season was December, which had 5.5 million.  But from March through November, there was very little month-to-month change.

2018: There’s very little change from spring through summer and into the fall. In this case, the spring was slightly busier for existing-home sales, but the difference is not significant. May had 5.43 million sales and was not all that different from October, which had 5.16 million. March, which could be considered an early spring season, saw 5.53 million sales, while April and June were around 5.45. September, October, and November were all between 5.16 and 5.20 million units – hardly a drastic difference. So, while spring in general was busier, it certainly wasn’t too different for new buyers and sellers throughout the year.

1998: Maybe this myth is a recent trend? Maybe the previous years were anomalies, or there used to be a busy spring season? From the few years we looked at, this was not the case. In 1998, there was an upward trend from January through December. There were dips, (March to April, May to June, for example) but the overall trend was upward with the fall months of September, October, and November having more sales than the spring. 

 

Conclusion: Real estate is a year-round industry.

So, what does all of this tell us? How does looking at three different years, a small sample size to be sure, give us any indication of the overall market?

What we see in the numbers is that there simply isn’t a regular busy season for real estate. For some years, April and May are busier. But in other years, winter months are the top-selling times. In any given year, it’s just too hard to predict the right time for real estate sales.

Don’t let the myth of a real estate season drive your decisions. There are busy springs, slow springs, and average springs. If you think the time is right for you to buy or sell, you should enter the market regardless of the busy spring myth.

 

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Source: Trading Economics: United States Existing Home Sales. www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/existing-home-sale