In Real Estate, Spring is Here!

If you have ever bought or sold a house, peruse the listings, or just surf on Zillow from time to time, you are familiar with the term “spring market” in real estate. If you google it, scores of articles appear, mostly about the predictions for the upcoming season. This article attempts to help clarify – what is the spring market and is it the right time for you to sell your house, or look to buy one? The answer is very individual, and the factors to consider are several. Whatever your preference, the first decision to make is choosing a qualified and experienced realtor to help you navigate all aspects of the marketplace.

Spring Market – What Does That Mean?

Spring market, also known in real estate circles as “selling season” is the period in the year where the bulk of home sales are transacted. Since this period is not marked by the calendar, the term “spring” market is a bit of a misnomer. There are many variables that go into it: the economy, the region, the setting – urban, suburban, rural – and of course the most unpredictable one, the weather. For simplicity’s sake, this article will discuss what is meant by selling season in the Metrowest region, presuming a relatively stable economy, and weather that is not marked by historical highs and lows.

What Defines “Spring Market?”

The spring market is loosely defined as when things heat up – that is, when listings start coming onto Multiple Listing Service, commonly known as “MLS”, and when buyers start to look in earnest for their next home. It’s a symbiosis of sorts – listings need looking buyers, and home searchers can’t look if there is no inventory. It’s a chicken and egg proposition; which needs to come first, or which is more important? The simple answer is that it can go either way. In a seller’s market – more people are looking to buy than people selling their homes. In a buyer’s market, the reverse is true – there are more listings available than there are buyers, putting those looking to purchase in the position of power or leverage. At the end of the day, it takes both sides of the equation, buyers and sellers, to act for a “market” to occur.

When Does It Start?

As mentioned above, weather is the big unknown, and a significant factor in when the market sees increasing activity. If there is a particularly cold winter, or when the Metrowest is “blessed” with a lot of snow and ice – remember 2014/15’s snowmageddon? – the season may start when the weather lets up and is more mild. People simply do not have the desire to trudge through snow mounds and over black ice to look at houses. Sellers are also less than interested in struggling with snow and concerns of buyers safety on their property during poor weather conditions. The mild winter weather of 2016 brought buyers out early, and activity started in late January and early February. Weather aside, the launch of selling season is a delicate dance of sorts – when buyers start looking, overall activity picks up, and listings can start to sprout up in early February. Typically – as though anything in New England can be categorized that way! – in Metrowest Boston, the spring market heats up after February school vacation.

When Does It End?

Curiously, the ending of selling season is more consistent across regions than the beginning of spring market. Activity seems to slow down around Mother’s Day, and the unofficial “finish line” is Memorial Day. This phenomenon has its outliers: in 2016, for example, the market continued on a steady hum through July. Of course, sellers sell homes every day, and buyers in turn buy them. Why a bulk of the activity ends in May is a curious trend. One theory is that a significant number of home transactions occur in the months leading up to the summer is directly related to people’s desire to move during that season. This school of thought is related to, well, school. Parents like to plan this way to minimize the interruption of the school year, particularly when the move involves a change in school district for their children. These moves are intentionally timed to have the move occur when the children are not in school and the family will be ensconced in their new home and community when school starts in the fall. Others who prefer a summer move may be based on a preference to not move in inclement weather; moving and blizzards just don’t mix. Another contributing factor is that late spring is a busy time for many people, their attentions are turned to the flurry of things happening: graduations, recitals, weddings, summer plans.

In our next article, we will discuss strategies for buying a home in the spring market, and how to best prepare your home – and yourself! – to sell during this busy time in real estate. Regardless of when you sell your home, or buy a new one, the wisest first step is to find an experienced Realtor to guide you every step of the way.