The holidays have passed and New Year’s resolutions have been broken; in real estate, this means that the slowest months are behind us, and the market is starting to pick up.
Most buyers and sellers are aware of the slow winter market. For buyers, it means fewer competing offers, as well as fewer houses to choose from. For a seller, it means a potential longer wait for a sale, and perhaps a lower offer should be considered.
One thing is certain: Here in the real estate market, we don’t rely on a groundhog in Punxsutawney to let us know when winter ends. Whether or not Phil goes back to bed, the market starts to pick up in February.
Statistics can be deceiving. Looking at last year’s numbers, January and February saw the fewest number of home sales. However, looking at the sales of each month does not provide the clearest picture of buying activity, because most buyers take 30 to 60 days to secure financing. This means there were fewer buyers in November through January, resulting in a lower number of sales in January and February.
The busiest month of 2013 in Baltimore City was June, in which 726 properties exchanged hands. In contrast, January saw just 382 sales.
Now let’s look at zip codes 21230 and 21224 specifically. Eighty-eight houses sold in February; in March that number nearly doubled, to 154 sales.
What does all this mean?
By starting your sales process now, you could save thousands of dollars. Start by interviewing a real estate agent. At the outset, he or she will assist you by recommending certain repairs prior to putting your house on the market. In some cases, it may just be a matter of de-cluttering, painting, spackling, or other minor cosmetic work. In other scenarios, the seller may have some serious work to complete. In either situation, you may want to hire a professional to do the work.
By starting early, you have time to get several quotes from contractors, plumbers, electricians, roofers, etc, so that you can have the best work completed for the best price. When sellers wait to make repairs until the last minute—post-home inspection comes to mind—they are forced to complete repairs as quickly as possible, leaving enough time for only a quote or two before the work gets started.
If you have owned the house for years, there may be some serious de-cluttering. You will have time to go through your items and determine what to pitch, donate, or put in storage. Too many times, sellers end up throwing away perfectly good items, because they ended up in a pinch when it was time to move. Even worse, they pay to have items moved, only to throw them away when they get to the new house!
Being prepared for the upcoming uptick in buying activity is an easy way to save yourself thousands of dollars, so get started this month.