If asked what the optimal time of year is to list a home, most real estate professionals would answer that market activity increases in the warmer months and that now is the time to list property for sale. Explanations given for this surge of activity are varied and interesting. But first let us see if the facts match up with conventional wisdom.
Here are the monthly totals for residential property closings for the last two years in the combined Belknap and Carroll County areas: For 2014 and 2015, respectively; January – 119/126, February – 110/101, March – 152/133, April – 145/153, May – 235/224, June – 210/262, July – 195/315, August – 284/297, September – 240/293, October – 296/290, November – 192/213, December – 203/223 [data compiled from New England Real Estate Network. The numbers speak for themselves. The closings in June, July, and August, for instance, were 2 to 3 times the numbers of those that took place in January and February. Interestingly, sales in the Lakes Region still held strong through the fall months. This may be attributable to the fact that Lakes Region activities draw buyers to the area in all four seasons. Keep in mind, too, these numbers represent closing dates where the sales agreement would have been signed a month or two earlier. In any event, it is clear that if you want to list your property for sale, now is the time to contact a real estate agent to take advantage of the upcoming season.
Another factor to consider is that it is generally believed that sellers receive the best prices during the prime season. Even though the inventory may be greater in the spring and summer months, this is counterbalanced by a large influx of buyers. Seasonal buyer activity is attributed to the idea that spring and summer months are the most convenient time for buyers to view properties and to move, particularly true for families with school age children who are relocating or second-home purchasers looking for vacation homes. With a greater pool of buyers, bidding wars are more apt to occur – a definite advantage for sellers who are looking for top dollar. "Bidding wars mean more money in your pocket. They also usually mean buyers are less likely to make repair requests or other demands," according to an article by Craig Donofrio, posted on realtor.com.
Another factor in higher prices is the belief that most properties show better in the spring and summer – greater curb appeal. "If you're selling in winter, especially in snowy areas, your house will have less of that colorful pop it might have in spring," Donofrio writes.
Do statistics support this idea that a home will sell for more in the prime season? Numbers generated by NEREN seem to back this conclusion. In their report Residential Sales and Inventory History, including data throughout New England over the past five years, the percentage difference between sale price and listing price rose slightly in spring and summer months. In 2015, for example, the percentage differences were as follows: January – 95 percent, February – 95.9, March – 96.2, April – 96.7, May – 96.6, June – 99.1, July – 97, August – 96.7, September – 96.3, October – 96.3, November – 95.9, December – 95.9. So this means that in June a seller received on average 99.1 percent of the asking price whereas in January the seller received only 95 percent of the asking price. Are these percentage differences significant? For a home listed at $250,000, if sold in June the seller would receive $247,750. If sold in January, the same seller would receive $237,500 – a difference of more than $10,000, which for most sellers is significant.
Whether the theories as to why sales are more robust in the prime season are valid or a generally accepted idea has simply gained momentum and affects people's activity, there is no question that NOW is the time to list your house. The statistics do not lie. For a seller, it makes good sense to take advantage of the spring and summer surge of buyers looking for real estate.
How is the 2016 market looking thus far? Data recorded by NEREN for closings in Belknap and Carroll County show January and February 2016 significantly higher than the last two years (January closings – 154 in 2016 as compared to 126 in 2015 and 119 in 2014; February closings – 136 in 2016 as compared to 101 in 2015 and 110 in 2014) – all the more reason to contact your real estate agent if you plan to sell your home. Indications are that 2016 is going to be a good year.
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306. www.rocherealty.com
Pictured is one of the 1,959 residential properties currently for sale in the Lakes Region's Belknap and Carroll Counties. (Courtesy photo)
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