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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.