Ask an assembled group of property owners when is the best time of year to buy or sell property. You are likely to get the answer that summer is the best time. However for whilst toy manufacturers and retailers know that over 50% of their business occurs in the last 2 months of the year, real estate agents are actually pretty busy selling property year round.
The fact is that property sales are actually less susceptible to seasonality than some may think. In the chart below the calendar year is laid out showing the peaks and troughs of sales – this data is showing seasonality; based on over 15 years of data from the Real Estate Institute.
The analysis has shown that month-on-month variation in property sales tends to fluctuate by far less than people perceive. March is the most active month of the year, with January being the least active. Taking a typical year and a total sales of say 8,000 in March. This would equate to 258 sales per day; based on the same market the figure for January would be less, but still a respectable 190 sales per day. As for the winter months – they would average around 216 sales per day.
Having said that sales are not that seasonal it may come as some surprise to learn that there are some hidden “windows” of opportunity during the year to list a home for sale! In fact when selling a property, the best time could be in the middle of winter, a time traditionally thought of as the worst time of the year for the property market!
The chart below tracks the seasonality of listing volumes (new property coming onto the market) and also number of people viewing property online. These important new sets of data have only recently been available as a function of the dominance of the web in real estate researching.
The activity of researching and viewing property online (in red above) hardly varies by much through out the year (with the single exceptions of the ever-present distractions of Christmas and the fast approaching summer holidays). For reference website traffic is measured across a basket of leading real estate websites including Realestate.co.nz.
The one surprising fact though highlighted from the analysis is the seasonality of new listings coming onto the market (shown in blue above). In this regard the behaviour of sellers is completely out of line with buyer activity.
The majority of new property listings tend to flood onto the market in February & March and again in October & November. Such is the surge that close to 40% of all new listings in a year, pour onto the market in just these 4 months in the expectation that this is when buyers are most active. Equally in contrast, those winter months of June, July and August show the lowest level of new listings coming onto the market falling to barely 20% of the annual total of all new listings hitting the market during the 3 months of winter.
So what does this analysis tell us as property owners and buyers, and what should you do to take advantage of this analysis?
Well thinking about it, there is an opportunity here for astute property sellers. For whilst the temptation is to list either in the spring or summer, grabbing the winter season could give your property greater exposure at a time when fewer listings are out in the market to compete with, and yet at the same time buyer interest does not decline to the same extent.
So maybe the best advice is be brave and be different, and just maybe that sale may come sooner than you think giving you the opportunity to be buying just as all the new spring season listings hit the market.