Photo Credit: Adamparsons.ca
September is already nearly over, which means that autumn is well underway – hot cider, pumpkin spice lattes, turning leaves, glowing sunsets, spooky storefront displays – and this week we want to talk about a less-traditional activity for the fall season: buying a house.
Traditionally, residential real estate sales peak in the spring and summer and slow down as winter approaches. Like the flash of vivid color that signals leaf fall in autumn, this lull is often preceded by a flurry of activity in early autumn. This is partly due to weather patterns – in many parts of the country, snowy weather makes it difficult to contemplate a cross-state move or pre-sale renovation scheme – and partly due to factors like school schedules and annual financial timelines. Of course, tradition has a momentum of its own. Real estate agents tend to assume that their peak selling season will start in springtime and market properties accordingly, and this in turn shapes client expectations.
However, taking advantage of the fall season, and especially the many national holidays dotting the calendar between August and March, can help you land your dream luxury home in record time. Buyers who take the leap in autumn typically reap significant savings – an average of nearly three percent less than the estimated market value of the homes they purchased. Seasonal savings are granular – October is an especially bargain-filled month, with homes selling in the second week of the month averaging final sale prices more than ten percent below market value estimates. Particularly for higher-value properties, this can add up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Slower seasons may translate to faster sales, which can translate to savings on both sides of the transaction.
Outlast the Crowds
The key to realizing these savings is taking advantage of thinner competition during these traditional “slow” months. This approach is similar to booking a stay at a luxury resort during the “off” season: when the crowds of tourists head home for the year, hoteliers are much more motivated to fill suites, and may offer savvy clients rates that are much lower – they might even throw in luxurious perks in order to seal the deal. Off-season vacationers also avoid the hectic rush of the peak summer months, and typically receive a much higher level of service due to the lack of competing clients. Real estate follows the same pattern, and you can make this seasonal shift work for you.
September’s status as the start of the school year also comes into play here, and can offer significant advantages to some interested buyers. Home buyers without children will often enjoy a steep advantage over those negotiating the back-to-school rush – they’ll have far more time to peruse listings, visit open houses, and tour new neighborhoods. Retirees will also be more likely to use this time to buy and sell, since they won’t be bound by the same scheduling constraints as working professionals and parents of school-age children. Buyers who keep careful eye out for new listings will have multiple opportunities to secure a gorgeous luxury property before the holiday season.
Photo Credit: Fentressbuilders.com
Falling Leaves – and Falling Prices
If you’re willing to wait a little longer past Halloween, however, the holidays promise their own set of exceptional properties on offer at exceptionally low prices. For many sellers, the holiday season is an important deadline. Most sellers are hurrying to sell before the “winter break” that’s just as much an annual tradition in real estate as in local school, since they’re well aware of the deep lull in attention from prospective buyers. If they’re still actively marketing their home as the holiday season draws nearer, they’re hoping to sell quickly so that they can move to another home immediately or put their own real estate to-do list aside as they celebrate the holidays with friends and family. This built-in pressure means that time is on your side – and you can negotiate with that advantage firmly in mind.
Your real estate broker will also be cognizant of the approaching end-of-year deadline and holiday slowdown – and they’ll be that much more invested in helping you close on your dream home. They’ll also have significantly more bandwidth to devote to you as a client, which will ensure that you see a range of listings that fit your specifications and receive detailed answers to all of your questions. Depending on their specialization, the “slow” season may occasion a few extra-special listings – and if you make it clear to your real estate agent that you’re happy to continue searching through the end of the year, you’ll be the first to hear about these one-of-a-kind offers.
Photo Credit: Magic4walls.com
Alternative Autumn Bargains
Real estate agents aren’t the only property experts who see the fall season as a special time of year – a number of affiliated professionals also traditionally view the last quarter of each year as a lean season. A range of housewares, appliances, and home interior accessories will be heavily discounted by motivated sellers – and this especially applies to higher-end and specialty merchandise. This same rule applies to home improvement professionals, interior design specialists, and landscape architects. If you’re dreaming of some intensive upgrades for your new home, you may be surprised by the steep discounts you’ll be offered when you shop around.
Of course, these perennial low prices on home improvement services will also hold true for any improvements you’re making to your current home prior to sale – if you’re hoping to save money on an elaborate interior staging arrangement, last-minute landscaping, or a brand new coat of interior or exterior paint, fall is the ideal time to shop around. Best of all, you can be sure that you’ll rank high on the to-do list, since your contractor or interior decorator won’t be juggling the busy roster of clients who will start calling for estimates at the beginning of spring.
In addition to all of these market incentives, you may want to consider a final financial incentive: year-end tax credits! If you can close on a new house by the end of the year, you may be able to score a sizeable deduction come next spring’s tax season – and remember, that will be on top of the “windfall” you’ll capture on a luxury property that will likely be discounted due to the lack of interest from buyers less savvy than you.
We hope that this post about autumnal house hunting inspired you to check out some luxury home listings this month. What annual real estate trends have you noticed in your community?
About the Author: An acknowledged expert in luxury coastal properties with more than fifteen years of real estate experience, Kym Talbert is devoted to serving the needs of home buyers and sellers in coastal Orange County. Known for integrity and perseverance, Kym combines unparalleled customer service with a state-of-the-art web marketing presence.