When to Sell

Posted by Brandon Vasquez on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 3:36pm.

For the last couple of years, you’ve been thinking about selling your home, but decided for a variety of reasons to put that decision off another year. 

Now you’re thinking 2011 is the year to sell.   Of course, you want your home to show at its best, so naturally you’ll want to wait until the trees and gardens have blossomed, your grass is green, the birds are signing, and the porch is open.  Right? 

Wrong! Look what happens the first few warm weekends of the year...Minnesotans tend to behave as though they’ve never seen warm weather – especially after a record setting winter like we’re experiencing!  They want to be out in their own back yards, planting flowers, walking the lakes, playing their first rounds of golf, or opening up their summer lake cabins – not walking your yard!

Historically, the most prime selling weeks – what we in the industry refer to as the “spring market” – have been those between mid-February and late April.  Why is this? 

Several factors contribute to the generally stronger housing market when snow is often on the ground and the temperatures are colder. Like you, prospective local buyers are energized by the frenetic pace of the holiday season – and suddenly feel a void come mid-January, when the only excitement looming is the Super Bowl, planning a possible winter vacation… or buying a new home! 

Most buyers are in the age ranges 24-50, representing younger singles, couples, and families.  Conversations at the office copiers, school drop off lines, and local bars during this time of year often focus on individuals comparing the homes they’ve just toured.  Those who aren’t in the home search frequently become fresh home shoppers a week or two later, as they likewise begin to realize this is a good time to consider a home change – and otherwise feel “left out”. 

Meanwhile, companies seem to go through waves of hiring new employees who transfer into the Twin Cities from other market areas.  Consistently, the largest wave of transferees begins to search for homes as early as late January, with the intensity of their numbers and search reaching a crescendo during March and April.  

Historically, these transferees have fueled the spring market, their short but earnest house hunting trips resulting in “Sold” signs which stimulate serious local buyers to act as well.  Yet these transferees, who are typically looking to make an actual move into their “new” homes shortly after the school year ends in late May/early June, usually have made their choices by the end of April.  Meanwhile, local buyers, especially if they have school age children, tend to find the beautiful month of May disruptive with end-of-school-year activities. 

As a result, the housing market often slows down significantly just as the trees are blooming, the temperatures warming, and lawns returning to life.  And all the well-intentioned home sellers who waited until their yards looked superb to list their homes for sale swell the ranks of home sellers – competing traditionally for the attention of a smaller number of more relaxed home buyers who may or may not return to the search with much energy until post-Labor Day, after they’ve had a chance to enjoy the glorious months which comprise a Minnesota summer. 

As a disclaimer, the last three to four years have not behaved entirely according to traditional patterns and the buying cycles have in fact been delayed by as much as two to three months.  While it’s impossible to predict entirely the pace at which the housing market will return to life in 2011, it’s also prudent to understand the psychology which generally underlies buying patterns and work with those trends, rather than buck them. 

So if 2011 is in fact the year for you to sell, begin now to take a closer look at your home and initiate the process of preparing your home for sale.

-From the Desk of Barry Berg

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