October 17, 2016

Fall  offers some unique opportunities for home buyers



Home buyers who began shopping during the peak season, and are still looking, are likely weary from the lack of choice and competition they've encountered. Now that nights are cooler, and the leaves are beginning to turn, a normal reaction is to refocus their attention to things like the upcoming holidays. Now is not the time to give up. In fact doubling down could be the best thing to do. There's ample data to back that up.

I'm not saying the local housing market is running out of steam. The numbers show anything but that. Single family home sales are still brisk, and the inventory is tight. There are seasonal patterns that offer some advantages to fall buyers.

Home sales typically peak in June or July then begin a slowly arch downward into the fall and winter season. Prices are also usually lower.

There are already some predictable seasonal market pattern shifts under way. The sales pace is beginning to slow, and August's year-over-year new listing count was the best it has been since March.

For the past five years, the market pulse here in Northeast Tennessee slowly softens in August and that continues through November. Closings in December have increased an average of 5.6% from November. During the same five-year period the average December closing price was 9.6% below the peak season average price.

What that means is savvy local buyers, and their agents, don't let up when the leaves begin to fall.

The local fall market numbers are a little more robust than what you will read about when national market trends are discussed. The reason is simple. Our population base is older than the national average, and when the numbers are crunched on the national level, it accounts for that fact that many home buyers target getting their deals done in late summer so their children won't have to change schools. With an older population base and not as many buyers with children who are still in school that isn't as much of a local issue.

There're some other situations that work in a fall buyer's favor.

Sellers are just a prone to marketing fatigue as buyers. 

One technique that is worth considering is to look for homes that have been passed over for several months. A tight market means fewer choices, but if a home hasn't moved by the beginning of the fall season, it's decision time for the owners. They can stick with what hasn't worked for them, or they can become a little more accommodating.

There are also some tax considerations buyers may be facing.

Another pragmatic advantage for fall buyers who know they will be upgrading major appliances is stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers are at their lowest price points in December.

If all these advantages don't work there's still light at the end of the tunnel. Although fall offers some attractive buyer advantages, there are more just around the corner.

Take a break for the Christmas and New Year's holidays. But as soon as the festivities are over huddle with your Realtor® and get back in the active buyer mode.

“If your circumstances give you the freedom to be able to choose the best time to look to sign a contract on a new home, there’s no question that the market dynamics favor you the most to do that in the dead of winter, ideally in January or February, right before the activity starts to heat up,” says Jonathan Smoke,®’s chief economist.

That's good advice from someone who makes his living watching what buyers and sellers do, and when they do it.

Marsha Stowell is the 2016 president of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors. The real estate education and trade group is the voice for real estate in the Tri-Cities and has over 1,100 local Realtor® members and almost 60 affiliates