It's a rite of spring and early
summer in our transient society. From
coast to coast, for-sale signs crop up like wildflowers on the lawns
of subdivisions. Moving sales proliferate. Moms and dads box up
their possessions and ponder what awaits them on a new block or
in a new town. Kids finish out semesters, wary that a different
school culture and a new set of friends await them in fall.
It's a time when real estate
salespeople get lightheaded from make-hay fever, as buyers and sellers come out
in full bloom.
But is it always
the best time to buy or sell a house?
a definite maybe, say experts. Like most buy-sell situations, it all depends on
Indeed, April through July
outpace the balance of the year in sales, historic data at the National Association
of Realtors indicates. So there will surely be more home inventory and variety
then. But you better move fast, because that's just what other home hunters are
"It starts building up early in the year but
peaks around June," says research economist Jack Harris of the Texas A&M
University Real Estate Center. "There's school ending, there's vacation time
and the weather is also nicer. It's generally just a good time to get out and
look at homes."
Many buyers apply their income tax refunds
toward down payments, adding to the spring push.
buying frenzy stays steady through most of the summer, it falls in early fall,
Harris says. It usually drags for a month or so, then escalates briefly again
around October. Some of that second spike is attributed to sellers who were overly
optimistic pricers in the spring, but who have grudgingly decided to make concessions
in the fall, he added.
a contrarian. True, there's a greater choice of homes in the spring, but
sellers then can better hold to their asking prices because of demand. "If
you can stand to be a contrarian, it could pay to wait," says Harris. "Most
people don't do that, though. They just get carried along with the crowd."
Additionally, when home loans are less in demand, some lenders are willing to
forgo certain fees typically charged to win off-peak mortgage customers.Off-season
dealing: Sellers in late fall and early winter, especially between Thanksgiving
and New Year's Day, are often more motivated to deal, real estate agents say.
"I've done my best negotiating from October to December," says Jim Crawford,
a real estate agent, lecturer and Web consultant in Roswell, Ga. "You don't
want lots of people tromping through your home around Christmas time ... so you're
more apt to accept an offer."