When is the best time to be a buyer or seller?

One of the first things I do every day is look at ALL the new listings, look at ALL the price reductions, look at ALL the new pending sales, and look at ALL of the new closed sales.

Want to know some things I have noticed over the years?

In the spring, the number of houses selling quickly is higher than any other time of year.  More buyers are out.  There are usually fewer listings early in spring since most sellers want those first few warm weekends to work on curb appeal.

In the summer, we start seeing more new listings.  Sales remain strong.  Overpriced houses get overlooked.

In the fall, we see fewer new listings.  The frenzy slows down.  There are fewer multiple offers and fewer houses sell the first day or two on the market.  In an appreciating market, I also see houses that have been on the market for a long time begin to sell.  Why does this happen?  They were the overpriced listings in the spring and summer.  With prices going up, they have appreciated into their list price and now are competitive with newer listings.  Also, in an appreciating market, most sellers get greedy.  They want what their house is worth PLUS $5-10k.  Yesterday’s overpriced listing looks really good to a buyer compared to a brand new overpriced listing.

In the winter there are far fewer new listings but this is the best time to be a buyer.  Most sellers have been beat into submission by the buyers of prior seasons and are the most realistic they will ever be.  For a seller, the benefit is that your competition is typically just the other listings that are left over from spring and summer.  You stand a better chance of catching a buyer.

So, when is the best time to be a seller or be a buyer?

If you are a picky buyer looking for something specific, spring and summer because you will have more choices.

If you are a buyer who isn’t too picky, then fall and winter may get you the best price.

If you are a seller with a house that has been a buyer’s second or third choice all spring and summer, then your best bet is the fall and winter.  The reason your house never made it to be somebody’s first choice was because there was always a new listing that lured the buyers away from your house.

If you are a seller with a nice house and are willing to price it appropriately, then you will sell quickly any time of the year.  Your house will always be somebody’s first choice.

Real estate predictions for 2029

Just gonna jump right into this:

Gen Z will have a harder time getting a house than the Millennials did.    They are the biggest generation ever.  They will be entering the real estate market at about the time Millennials are selling their starter homes.  Great news if you own a 1300 square foot house in Masterson.  Times will be tough for them, but they will keep the market going strong.  Every seller of a starter home needs a first time buyer so they can move up.  That first time buyer is the oil that lubricates the whole market.

The Millennials will be moving up to their 4 bedroom houses on a cul de sac in a good school district because that is just a natural progression once you start a family.  This is great news for Gen X sellers who will be downsizing to medium sized houses in upscale neighborhoods.

What makes me think all this?  It’s not really crystal ball as much as it is history.  Everything I just described happens with every generation.  You buy a smaller house you eventually outgrow, you move up at least once to the house you raise your family in, then you downsize.

So what does all this look like for Lexington?  More gentrification as it becomes expensive to live anywhere in Fayette County.  I know it sounds unheard of, but the neighborhoods that nobody wants to live in like Cardinal Valley and Winburn may become the budget choice as similar neighborhoods with better locations become too expensive.  I know it sounds crazy, but when I was in high school, people didn’t want to live in Kenwick and now those houses equal Chevy Chase for price per square foot……yesterday’s bad neighborhood can easily become a tomorrow’s good location.  Plus, it isn’t like we are ever going to see brand new starter homes ever again.  All that can be done is update/remodel existing houses.  The people that flip houses need some margin to do this so they will buy distressed houses in whatever neighborhoods are affordable, just like they are doing now in downtown, Melrose, The Meadows and all those streets that begin with D around Pasta Garage.

Before long, I don’t think there will be any new construction in Lexington.  We are already filling in every spot big enough to stick a short row of townhouses.   This means that being in Fayette County will be even more expensive, and people will go to surrounding towns like Nicholasville and Georgetown even more.  One day, people will discover that Winchester is only 15 minutes from Hamburg and the interstate passes right through it.  I’ve never understood why more people don’t move to Winchester?

Remodeling will be hot too.  With not much new construction, people will start remodeling existing houses more and more.

Sort of some majorly huge economic melt down, I think housing is going to be strong for quite some time.

 

Once I was 7 years old & was already The LEXpert

Any of my clients can tell you that I am always making random observations about any house I show them.

I was just thinking about that this morning and realized I have always done that, ever since I was a kid.  I have always been critiquing, comparing/contrasting houses as long as I can remember.

When I was probably 7 years old, I noticed that our backyard was flatter, more private, but smaller than the houses across the street.  Ours was better for playing hide and seek and my best friend’s house across the street was better for playing baseball.  That same house had an addition built on the back of it that had this smaller section of a larger L shaped room.  I never got why it was built that way.  It was wasted space.

We moved into a very small house that had a shared driveway.  It was very steep.  So steep that nobody ever used it for cars.  I remember thinking “Who would do that do a house?”  It was a two bedroom house.  One of the bedrooms was more than twice as big as the other.  That bothered me a bit.  The house next door was the same floor plan just reversed.  You could look out our hall window and see into their hall window….which led to the first time my 9 year old eyes saw a girl in her underwear, lol.

Then we moved to another town.  Our house sat lower than the ones to the side and rear.  That really bothered me.  The house behind us wasn’t there when we moved in, so I knew how much better it was without a house there.  Once the houses behind us were built, we started to have some drainage problems.  This is probably why I am always trying to help clients visualize what might be in the empty lots and fields around them when they build a house.

Then we moved to Lexington when I was in high school.  We had a cool house.  The house on both sides sat way back in their lots.  It was strange to see a house on either side of your backyard fence, but it made it nice to look out the side windows and see grass instead of having a brick wall 10 feet away.  It was this neighborhood that taught me a bit about traffic patterns and which roads got more cars than others.

Then I got married and we lived in an apartment on Redding Road.  I loved that location.  Close to everything.  We had a basement apartment. I didn’t like that.  There wasn’t much natural light and everybody parked right at our front door.

Then we moved into one of those houses that sat way back in their lot next door to my parent’s house.  It sat lower than their house.  I felt like my parent’s house was about to jump over the fence into my front yard.  I didn’t like it.

The first house we owned was in Winchester.  I really liked that house, but it began a trend of me living about 2-3 houses in from a busy corner and having a busy road a block behind me.  I don’t like a bedroom on the back of the house when you have a busy road back there.  Makes it harder to fall asleep.

The next house didn’t have a flat ten square feet anywhere on the lot.  I don’t like sloping lots.

The next house had a flat lot.  Other than the noise from the busy road behind it, I liked it a lot.

All of which brings me to my current house.  It broke the curse of the busy road behind me.  I’m about as far into my neighborhood as you can be.  There are only two ways in and out of the neighborhood.  Nobody comes down my dead end road unless they are lost or neighbors.  I like that.  I keep saying I want to move but I haven’t found anything I like any better.  About all I would change is to have more natural light and maybe taller ceilings on the main level.

So, when I say:

“Will that busy road being so close bother you?”

“If you were to have kids, do you know that there is no where to put a swingset or sandbox?”

“This house is dark inside.  Will that bother you?”

“Does it bother you that the neighbor’s deck sits higher than your deck and you won’t have much privacy if both of you are outside?”

You now have an idea of how I came to notice these types of things.

Something I wish sellers understood

It happens a lot with sellers.

They have a house that isn’t getting much attention from buyers.  It could be due to price, an odd feature of the house, the time of year, competition from new construction, or anything really.  They get a lot of showings and all of the feedback is the same, resulting in no offers.

Then all of the sudden they start getting more and more showings.  Buyers seem more interested in the house than they have been, but still no offers.

The seller finds this time exciting.  They are thinking “Wow, with all these new showings and better feedback, surely my house is about to sell!!!!!

Sellers assume this will last forever but it is a temporary thing.  It lasts until other sellers with better houses put their homes on the market.

And here is the lesson to be learned:  The market changes every time a house sells and every time there is a new listing.  Once the best house in it’s price range sells, it makes every other house look just a little bit better.  That is why your house that hasn’t been that interesting to buyers is all the sudden on their radar.  Once a new listing hits the market, it has to fit into the hierarchy of all the houses available.   If you have one of the better houses for sale, then a house better than your house hits the market, it makes buyers less interested in your house.

When you find the market has it’s eye on your house and you still haven’t gotten any offers, the best thing to do is reduce the price while you have the attention.  If you wait, most likely what is going to happen is the market will move on to other houses and you will be right back where you were.

When everything is right and it still doesn’t sell

It can happen.  I am not going to be one of those agents that pretends all my houses sell fast, like I am some sort of magician.   A lot of selling a house has to do with….the house and the market.  I put the same effort into all my listings.  Most sell quickly, even when the market was terrible.  Sometimes though, a house struggles to find a buyer, even when you’ve done everything correctly and the price is right.

Here are some reasons:

  1.  Too much competition.  If there are like 50+ houses competing for a buyer and all are pretty darn nice and equal to each other, you’re waiting for the right buyer who likes your house just a bit better than the rest.  I am seeing this a lot in a few towns surrounding Lexington where there are a ton of new construction homes.
  2. Bad timing.  Usually the market slows down when school starts in the fall.  The week that school starts is usually really slow because everybody with kids is getting ready for the school year and wants to enjoy that first weekend.  If your house is in a neighborhood with a very popular school district, you may have missed most of your buyers and are waiting for somebody to move during the school year.
  3. There are no buyers….at the moment.  I see this one occasionally.  Sometimes in a certain neighborhood or price range, there just aren’t any active buyers.  This is like fishing when you have the right rod and bait, but there just aren’t any fish there.    I had a listing in a neighborhood of $450-600k houses a while back.  I put my listing on in the late winter.  It got a few showings.  Over the next 6 months there were about 8 houses that also were not selling in this small neighborhood.  It got so bad that all of the agents got together and did a neighborhood open house to try to get some attention for our listings.  Of course, it was a total waste of time and energy because none of them sold any time soon.  It was much later in the year when several of them began to sell left and right.  It wasn’t the neighborhood’s fault.  It wasn’t the fault of all the listing realtors.  All of the houses were priced right.  There were just no buyers at that time and the sellers had to wait for them to enter the market.