Buying or selling in the DC metro market requires an understanding of not only the seasonal shifts in market activity but also the weekly flow of the market.
This ebb and flow is not quite so simple to describe. So Iet’s take a look at it so you can better understand it.
Whether you’re listing a home or searching for one, you need to change tactics depending on the current flow of the market. It’s time to think strategically when you decide you’re going to be a buyer or seller in today’s market.
That’s why you need to understand –
- What dates are best to list your home to attract buyers ready to purchase.
- What day of the week is best to jump start your home search.
- How to take advantage of an increase in market activity or decrease in activity … yes, even a decrease.
Since the local housing market can change daily and reacts differently during different seasons of the year, you need to be prepared to respond to this cyclical flow.
Don’t be frustrated with or stubborn about it, but rather become attuned to it. That’s where going with the flow of the market comes in!
If you’re thinking about buying — you’ll get a better idea of why timing can affect how you go about looking for a home.
If you are thinking of selling — you will gain some insight on why your strategies to attract buyers may change depending on the month.
When you learn to understand the twists and turns in our market, you CAN end up buying or selling well.
Let’s get started!
Weekly cycle – homes tend to come on the market on Thursday or Friday.
- Buyers need to have their research (needs, wants, deal breakers, location, lifestyle) and finances (budget, mortgage pre-approval, absolute max offer price) in order by Tuesday if you want to be able to make a serious offer when homes hit the market by Thursday.
Certain times of the year like the springtime and early fall you could face lots of competition from other buyers, so be ready to make quick decisions with no regrets.
- Sellers may want to get a jump on the market by making their home available for viewing on a Wednesday to tap into the more serious buyers who want to make an offer on a home. Weekends can bring out the more curious rather than determined homebuyer, especially during the busy spring season. We’ve all been an “open house” junkie at times!
Remember that agent showings can be an important strategy to get the word out to other agents and their clients during slower times in the market.
The most popular month for new listings is usually April, followed by March, May, June and July.
- Buyers will need to be all ready to “purchase” if they want to make any of the top dates. That means being pre-approved for a mortgage loan, having a down payment strategy (know if you qualify for any assistance programs), and truly understanding your price range based on what you can afford monthly.
You’re going to face lots of competition from eager buyers in this market with historically low inventory. You need to be confident to make an offer when you see a home you want. That’s why you must do your research beforehand to confirm your needs, wants and your deal breakers with yourself and other family members. You won’t have as much time to “think” things through and will need to react quickly.
- Sellers should know they’ll have more competition from fellow neighbors who also list their homes. Since inventory has been historically low lately, your home and theirs will most likely attract lots of foot traffic during this busy market time.
However, you still need to price it right from the get-go and have a strategy in place. You don’t want to scare buyers away if priced too high (they may fear it could go even higher in a bidding war) and it could end up sitting and you’ll end up with low-ball offers.
And, your home needs to shine in order to stand out (more on that below). Or you can go over the options on selling your home “as-is.”
Suburban homes follow the school calendar and tend to become available in April/May/June.
- Buyers who have targeted more suburban or family-friendly neighborhoods should prepare for heavy competition from other buyers and hectic weekends of looking into the late spring. Don’t give up if you can’t find a home earlier during the spring market.
No matter what, it’s important to be an educated buyer ASAP if you want to be settled in your home by summer and prepare your children for the new neighborhood and school. That means know your budget, know your needs and wants (and deal breakers), and get ready to play hardball if necessary!
On the flip side, be on the lookout for homes that come on the market at other more quiet times of the year. This is perfect for many first-time buyers who aren’t wedded to the school calendar. Be patient, be flexible, and stay in touch so you don’t miss any opportunities that may come along.
- Sellers who have homes in these neighborhoods need to get their homes ready for listing by early spring.
The bottom line – get your home in “show-ready” shape well before early spring. Get organized with your to-do list and start purging stuff, cleaning top to bottom, refreshing with painting, staging rooms, and creating springtime curb appeal.
Start planning for this move as early as possible – so you can properly time your listing for this rush of serious buyers.
The market slows down in July and August but picks up right after Labor Day.
- Buyers who are serious and more flexible should still keep an eye on the market even though fewer homes are listed over the summer. So don’t go completely on “vacation” from looking! Keep in mind that sellers are usually more willing to negotiate on price and terms if they need to make a sale during this market lull.
- Sellers need to tap into those serious buyers who haven’t completely stopped looking. If you live in a young, hip neighborhood, you’ll be better off attracting first-time buyers or couples who have more flexibility when it comes to moving. Price your home right, be generous with your terms, and make your home a summer oasis for them.
For those in suburbs or in neighborhoods tied to the school calendar, it’s critical to price your home correctly to bring in foot traffic or serious buyers. And even better, wow them with a home that is more move-in ready than not. Again, be generous with your terms and conditions and showcase your home so it looks like a great place for a summer staycation!
Understand the yearly highs and lows of market activity in several key categories.
- Searches – Buyers are searching the most in March. Some of these searches could be buyers just thinking of buying and learning about the market to prepare themselves for the spring. If you do need to list at this time, you could snag one of these many potential buyers if you market your home correctly.
- Prices – Prices appear to hold somewhat steady throughout the year with the lowest being in December and January. Sellers need to keep in mind that pricing their home correctly is important no matter what time of the year they list. Never get overconfident about the market as a seller even in low inventory times.
- Housing Starts – Construction ofnew inventory peaks in June, typically rising and falling along with the weather. Lots of construction in the springtime near condos and in certain neighborhoods can play a part in how sellers price and market “older” homes. Buyers need to be aware of the changing landscape of even urban neighborhoods now. What’s new and what’s coming down the road – both can impact buyer and sellers tactics.
- Sales – As expected, the number of sales starts a steep climb after February and then peaks in June. It’s a slower route going down through the remaining year. January usually has the least number of sales — cold or snowy weather can influence the lack of buyers trekking out to see homes.
- Inventories – Inventory does increase in the spring but not as drastically as one might think. The number of homes on the market is a steady curve rising until June and then going down until December. More buyers with almost the same amount of inventory mean lots of competition for those homes. But it also means your home will get traffic if you list it … how you market it depends on if it’s sold well.
There are, of course, exceptions to every rule and the “flows” I explained above differ in certain neighborhoods. If you are thinking of buying, selling or doing both anytime soon, email me so we can talk about how to go with the flow in your particular neighborhood.
I'm Monique and I love helping guide people through major home homeownership firsts! From buying your first home, loving your first home, and selling your first home, I am here to guide you through every step of the way! Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true.
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Washington, DC 20036
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