When is the Best Time to Buy or Sell a Home in Los Gatos?

April 05, 2008

Sold Sign - Mary Pope-HandyIs there a “best time” to buy or sell a home in Los Gatos, Saratoga, or San Jose?  That’s a question I get a lot. The answer is not so clear as many people would like.

Often we have some seasonally predictable patterns. Let’s look at them.

Winter: inventory tends to be very low in winter (from late November until somewhere between New Year’s, the Superbowl, and Valentine’s Day). Each year it’s slightly different, but in that “dead of winter” (as much as we have it here in The Valley of Heart’s Delight) is usually the time with the lowest number of sales, the best prices for buyers, the most “absorption” for sellers, the best interest rates, but the LEAST inventory to choose from. So you may get a good price as a buyer, but may not have much to choose from. Sellers may have the best odds of selling a home during this time because there are so few homes to choose from, and some buyers are anxious to close during the calendar year for tax or other reasons.

Spring: What’s best for sellers? Most years (but not all) that “best window” is from February through April. On a good year, it may continue into May. Some years, that “best window” for sellers is just a couple of weeks in March. Other years, it moves around and could be earlier, later, longer or shorter. Or just not happen at all. For buyers, spring brings a new influx of inventory and often decent rates. As more buyers come on the market, interest rates tend to creep up most years (a supply and demand issue).

Calla Lily - photo by Mary Pope-HandySummer: Somewhere around June, though, the tide begins to turn and by mid to late summer, sales have slowed considerably and sometimes prices even drop by about August. It varies from year to year. This can be a great time for buyers – lots of inventory to choose from, Interest rates may not be their cheapest, though.

Fall: Many years, there is a second rally (besides the one that happens near March) with a mini flurry of activity between Labor Day and Halloween. That can often be an excellent time to sell or to buy (more inventory than August or November/December).

There are pros and cons to each time on the market for both buyers and sellers. Depending on your home, any time can work. Traditionally, spring is viewed as best for both because there is a good supply of inventory but it doesn’t linger too long. So in some ways, spring is the most balanced market. Any time of year CAN work, though. So do not tie your buying decision soley to something like the school year, the interest rates, or the holidays. Call me if you’d like to discuss your individual situation.

Is Now a Good Time to Buy or Sell a Home in Los Gatos?

January 04, 2008

Is January a good month to list your home, or to make an offer on one, in Los Gatos? When is the best time to buy or sell?

In auto sales, it’s said that making an offer on a car the last day of the month, especially if it is a rainy, “slow day”, can result in a good bargain. Is that true in buying a house in Los Gatos too?

Auto sales and real estate sales are not the same, but they can respond to the same economic factors, among others. Predictions for 2008 are very mixed. The weather, though, also impacts sales in both areas.

What about the weather? As I type this, it’s pouring rain, the wind is howling and my power here in Belwood has browned out 3 times in the last 2 minutes. This is not the kind of weather that brings most buyers out to shop! So competition will be less for the best homes. Interest rates, too, often rise in mid-February as demand increases. There’s not a ton of inventory at the moment, but it’s very possible that the “best deal of the year” for getting that condo, townhome or house here in the west valley will be had right now.

No one can say with any certainty whether the realty market will be more or less favorable in a month, but I would say to buyers who are serious about purchasing a home this year: do look now. If you see a home you like, make an offer. And sellers, most of your competition will wait for fairer days. Right now, that’s not much of an issue.

What’s the inventory? And sellers, is this a good time for you? Right now,inventory is low: there are exactly 95 single family homes that are on the market in the 95030 and 95032 zip codes. There are just 22 condominiums or townhouses in the same parts of town. Winter is not usually known as the best season to sell, but there is also far less competition now than there might be later in the year. And buyers who come out to view homes in the middle of January’s weather are usually very serious about writing a contract to purchase a house.

What about pricing? Home sales have been plummeting for 34 solid months. Most homes in most parts of Silicon Valley are not selling. (Believe it or not, even in a hot sellers market, not all homes sell. A percentage are always overpriced, in poor condition, or marketed so badly that they do not procure an offer that goes through.) Los Gatos, and neighboring Monte Sereno, Saratoga, and Almaden Valley, are stronger than many parts of the valley – in large part because of the quality of life in these areas, the low crime, the well-kept neighborhoods, and the great school scores. Those factors make some areas desirable in any market. So while you might find a foreclosure emporium in some parts of Santa Clara County, you won’t find it in this part of the Valley of Heart’s Delight! Short sales and foreclosures pull prices down, perhaps by as much as 10 percent, in areas where those occur. But prices in the town of Los Gatos and the lovely areas adjacent are continuing to rise.

The future of real estate sales in Silicon Valley is a bit uncertain for this new year, perhaps especially since it is an election year. We truly don’t know how long the sales slump here will last. If homeowners need to sell, it is probably best to get the home on the market sooner rather than later since the competition is not very great at the moment. Buyers can gain on this market now by purchasing when no one else is looking and while interest rates are good and before prices rise any more. (I have often heard buyers say “I’m waiting for prices to go down” but in most markets within Los Gatos, they are simply not falling.)

“The Market” is a broad term, and really even within our fair town, there are micro-markets from east Los Gatos to downtown to the areas bordering Monte Sereno, and that is also true as relating to school districts and price points.

Right now – even with this inclement weather – can be a great time to buy and sell in Los Gatos or anywhere in the west valley areas of Silicon Valley.

Please call or email me if you’d like to discuss your particular circumstances.

Best regards,