September 8, 2019

Do seasons really have that much effect on local home sales, prices?


Karen Randolph
2019 NETAR President

Pundits have written tens of thousands of words about when is the best time of the year to buy or sell a home. After a study of 53,899 closings and the average prices from 2008-2018, I can say with some authority the best time to buy or sell a single-family home in the 11 counties monitored by the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors® varies.

There are seasonal advantages and disadvantages, but the truth is every real estate transaction has a different set of priorities based on the needs and resources of each buyer or seller. Seasonal variances are not as dramatic as often touted by pundits. Of course, the final details rely on your local market because sales volumes and prices can vary widely from community-to-community. 

Here’s how the seasonal share of closings stacked up in an analysis of local from 2008 through 2018.

Spring – 26%

Summer – 29%.

Fall – 25% 

Winter - 19%

Fall closings offer sellers a slight advantage while winter and early spring favor buyers, based on the seasonal average sales price which equaled or exceeded the year’s annual sales price.

Since the study is based on closing dates, and the typical closing is one-to-two months after an offer is accepted, closing will not always follow the season when the contract was accepted. For example, summer has more closings than spring, but a good part of late spring sales close in the early summer months.

Last year, the average winter closing price was 4 percent less than the annual average. The average spring price was 0.4 percent less, the average summer sales price was 0.46 percent less, and the average fall closing price was 1.8 percent above the annual average.

Simply put, there is not a huge difference in average prices.  In dollars and cents, the biggest average price advantage was a little north of $3,000 for fall closings. Spread over a 30-year mortgage at today’s interest rates, it’s barely a blip in the big picture.

What does the local study conclude?  The best time to buy or sell is when market conditions are right for the individual considering the transaction. Motivated sellers and buyers need to be informed on supply and demand in their neighborhoods instead of relying on seasonal patterns or media reports about sales and prices on the national level.

The biggest decision both sellers and buyers can make right now is to stop trying to time the market for little or no real advantage and partner with a professional Realtor® to find the best short and long-term option available to them.

The bottom line: Today’s market realities have moved beyond yesteryear’s seasonal preferences. Buyers and sellers making decisions based on national reports in the popular press put themselves in the same class as stock investors trying to time the market. Trying to time the market is the first “don’t do it” advice new investors get from seasoned pros.

Partnering with a professional Realtor®, trusting that partner to find the right solution of your goals and having the discipline to either act quickly or the patience to wait until that right opportunity presents itself is more important in today’s market than some of yesteryear’s most common practices.

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It’s the largest trade association in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region representing over 1,200 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Pending sales, monthly Trends Reports, and the regional market analytics can be found on the NETAR websites at .