Winter Real Estate: A Time For Hibernation or Not?

Everybody knows that winter is a dead time for real estate. Or is It?

At least that’s the widely held belief. But national statistical studies suggest it’s not necessarily the case. Winter can be a surprisingly advantageous time to list, shop, negotiate and/or buy.

According to real estate website Redfin and their two year study if you want to sell for more than your asking price, listing in December, January, February and March gives you a better chance on average than if you list any time from June through November. In 2012, December listings produced the highest percentage of above-asking sales for the entire year — 17%.

If your goal is to sell relatively quickly, February “is historically the best month to list, with an average of 66% of homes listed then selling within 90 days,” according to Redfin. In the two-year study completed last December, researchers found that in each of 19 major markets, including cold-weather cities such as Boston and Chicago, “home sellers were better off listing their homes in the winter than during any other season.”

Researchers are quick to note that the advantages of listing in winter compared with other seasons are not huge. But the fact that winter produces at least competitive or better results by some measures should encourage some potential sellers to get into the game sooner rather than later.

Nela Richardson, chief economist for Redfin, said “that shoppers who are active during the winter months are serious buyers. Most people are not window-shopping in December and January, as many do in the spring months.”

Quick Tip: Some sellers pull their unsold houses off the market during the winter, hoping for better results in the spring. By doing so, they leave a smaller inventory of active listings therefore lessening the competition among sellers who list in January and February.

Winter-season buyers may find some sellers more flexible about negotiations over prices and terms than they would be during the middle of the spring. Mary Bayat, a broker active in the Washington, D.C., market and chairwoman-elect of the Northern Virginia Assn. of Realtors, said that in the last few weeks she has participated in three deals involving sellers who were far more open to negotiations than they had been months ago.

Quick Tip #2: Real estate does not hibernate from December through March. More than 5 million homes are resold annually in the U.S., and many of them are listed and sold during the winter months.

In strong local housing markets such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Seattle, Austin, Boston and Washington, D.C., the likelihood of selling your home within 180 days is highest when you list during the winter months compared with any other season, according to Redfin’s 2013 study.

Winter is warmer for real estate than you might think.


Best Day to List Your House

TGIF! Thank God It’s Friday might have another new meaning and this pertains to real estate. Mansion on Friday reported that homes listed on Fridays sold for 99.1% of the seller’s original asking price, the highest percentage of any day of the week.

Interestingly enough, homes listed on Fridays were on the market for the shortest amount of time (81 days). Another daily fact was that homes listed on Tuesdays were viewed the most times with 2.41 home-tour requests, on average, according to an analysis by real-estate conducted by the Redfin brokerage.

Those were not the only aspects of real estate where Fridays and Tuesdays were superior to other days of the week. Here are some recent stats:

Last year, 57.5% of homes listed on Fridays actually sold, the highest percentage of any day of the week. Sundays were at the bottom, at 51.5%.

  • Sun: 51.5%
  • Mon: 52.5%
  • Tue: 54.0%
  • Wed: 54.7%
  • Thu: 56.9%
  • Fri: 57.5%
  • Sat: 53.0%

This next fact seemed a little odd, but when you think about it there is definitely some weight to the theory. Homes listed on Saturdays and Sundays were seeing below average online page views during their first day on the market. Homes listed on Tuesdays fared the best, seeing 8.25% more page views than the average for a listing.

Page views for a listing, shown as a percentage above or below the average page views:

  • Sunday: -8.5%
  • Monday: 3.68%
  • Tuesday: 8.25%
  • Wednesday: 4.7%
  • Thursday: 1.26%
  • Friday: -3.17%
  • Saturday: -8.11%

According to the CEO of Redfin, “the only reason sales volume isn’t higher is because there aren’t enough homes to buy, with foreclosures and now even short-sale listings rapidly disappearing.”

So now is the time to sell. The demand is high and the amount of buyers out there with money, who are already lender approved and ready to go, is increasing by the day. Just remember that when you list your home, make sure it’s on a Friday.

Median Price of Homes is Going Up!


“Experts expect the gains to continue, though not necessarily at such a brisk pace.” – L.A. Times Business Section

We ended 2012 with sharp gains, rounding out the first solid year of sustained improvement in the real estate industry after nearly five years of frustration. This gain has also helped to pave the way for further improvement in 2013.

The region’s median home price registered a 19.6% burst in December, real estate firm DataQuick reported Tuesday. A record level of cash buyers flooded into the market and more move-up homes sold last month. While housing is on the road to recovery, the recent steep increase in the region’s median price probably reflects several factors, such as the mix of what sold in December, and the run-up may not continue at that brisk pace, experts said. The median is the point at which half the homes in the region sold for more and half for less.

“There is no possible way that number can be sustained nor should anybody look at that as a long-term trend,” said Stuart Gabriel, director of the Ziman Center for Real Estate at UCLA. “We haven’t shifted from bust back to bubble, and nobody should think we have, and nor likely will we.” The median is heavily influenced by the types of homes selling, and some of last month’s pricier sales may have been driven by fears of increased tax burdens on the wealthy, as Washington wrangled with the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

A rise in prices will mean more homeowners who had been underwater — owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, a condition also known as negative equity — can now put their properties on the market. That would help ease the region’s inventory squeeze, which is another major factor driving up prices.

The 2012 housing rebound came after foreclosures declined, housing inventory plummeted, mortgage interest rates hit record lows and demand from investors surged last year. “Consistent price increases throughout 2012 have started the process of lifting households out of negative equity, which will support home sales and refinancing volumes,” Paul Diggle, an economist for Capital Economics, wrote in an emailed analysis. “Lower levels of negative equity is good news for housing market activity and sets up a virtuous circle of rising activity leading to rising prices and pushing negative equity down further.”

The decline in foreclosures has been aided by an increase in short sales, as The Times recently reported, as well as other loan aid for borrowers. The drop in foreclosures should continue to help lift prices.

“For 2013, we largely expect more of the same,” Sean O’Toole, chief executive of ForeclosureRadar, wrote in a blog post this week. “Demand will remain strong thanks to Federal Reserve-manipulated low interest rates and affordability. Housing supply will remain constrained, largely due to government foreclosure intervention. As a result, prices will rise, though likely at a slower pace.”

The increase in the median home price in Southern California reflects market dynamics as fewer sales are logged in cheaper neighborhoods and pricier places take off.

Home Equity Still Trumps Facebook Equity

Now that facebook has gone public, it seems like everyone (and their mother) is scrambling for a piece of the pie.  However, we’re curious to see how facebook shares stack up against good ole’ home equity. , writer for, seemed similarly cautious as she shared some interesting considerations about the two types of investments.

Her take:
“The fact is, more of us are getting rich by buying and paying off our homes than by picking the next Facebook.”

DeZube goes on to offer up some a few interesting statistics from the National Center for Real Estate Research:

  • 6 in 10 of us have more home equity than stock equity.
  • A fifth of Americans’ total net worth is home equity.
  • Home owners accumulate, on average, $167,000 in their lifetimes, compared to $42,000 for renters.
  • The median wealth for the poorest American home owners, those earning less than $20,000, is 81 times that of renters with similar income.

A recent study into the fluctuations in home prices found that, “Buying was still more likely to generate wealth than renting, simply because renters are more inclined to spend instead of save and invest in stocks.”

The fact is that even though renting may feel like the cheaper route, the “forced savings” incurred via home ownership is far more likely to lead to wealth than renting.

“Many of us simply don’t have the willpower or motivation to save our discretionary income and invest it in stocks.So unless you’ve got the inside track on the next hot future IPO, keep making your mortgage payments.”