By Christine Marchesiello for Saratoga Living Magazine
Having watched local real estate patterns for over 11 years now I often have a gut feeling about timing a sale and one of the comments I make most often is “once mid November hits you can expect a lull until the end of January”. There are definitely advantageous times to place your home for sale in upstate NY and mid November has never been one of those times! Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of opportunity and sometimes time is just not on our side. Job relocation, financial stresses, divorce, or just plain old desire are just some of the culprits that force our hand and make selling a reality at any time of year.
I wanted to explore some numbers behind the timing of home sales in the capital region to see if my “feeling” was truly supported by the numbers in our local market and not just because it seems that everyone is in hibernation mode over the holiday months. Here is what I found using real data from the Capital Region Multiple Listing Service (resale properties only):
November 15th 2016 through January 15th 2017
Average Days on Market: 78
Average List to Sale Price (the percentage of the asking price to what the home actually sold for): 96%
Average Sale Price: $202,139
May 15th 2017 through July 15th 2017
Average Days on Market: 66
Average List to Sale Price (the percentage of the asking price to what the home actually sold for): 98%
Average Sale Price: $221,436
Looking at the numbers during the winter months at face value it actually looks pretty good! 78 days on market is an average any market in the country would be happy with and that’s because we are in a strong and steady real estate market overall in the capital region. Digging deeper and making the comparison though allows us to see the downfall of a sale during the holidays. Selling during the holiday months results in the following: an 18% longer time on the market, 2% less of a listing to sales price (on a $300k house this is 6k less in negotiated acceptable price likely due to a lack of sense of urgency on the buyers part because there is more stagnant inventory), and an 8.7% less average sales price! Clearly the “gut feeling” is backed by the data surrounding the reality of the Holiday market in our region!
So, what’s a seller to do who has no choice and is forced to sell during these months by circumstances aforementioned? First of all, if it’s a bad time to sell it’s a good time to buy so hopefully you can make up for this downturn by making a purchase during the same timeframe or at least locking in a price via a contingent offer for a new home. Even if your closing doesn’t occur during these months, your offer price would be negotiated during this time and hopefully get you a favorable price on your purchase. Second, you’ll want to pay extra close attention to pricing. If a winter sale is upon you, you must avoid “chasing the market”. What this means is pricing high and thinking “we will just reduce if needed”. That’s a dangerous black hole during this time of year. Price aggressively right off the bat and remember, data from 6 months ago is not necessarily relevant because of the seasonality of our market. Properties ARE going to sell around 8-9% less in the winter than in the height of the market so look at the July closing comparables and price 10% under to create a buzz around your property and a quick sale will lead to a more favorable list to sales price! Finally, if you think a winter sale may be a reality take some outside shots of your home in late summer or fall. Your Realtor should be more than happy to help you out with this if you connect with them and explain the situation. Drone videos and photos of the exterior always look more appealing in summer/fall (unless of course you are selling a chalet near a ski resort!).
Regardless of the winter selling doldrums if you follow this advice you can make the most of an unfavorable situation. We are in a strong overall market and with the right team on your side your winter sales pain can hopefully be kept to a minimum!