Zillow released an interesting report this week: The nationwide property information firm studied dozens of metropolitan areas and determined that listing a home in late spring yields a higher sale price and fewer days on market.
The press release said of the Boston market:
“New Zillow analysis shows that in Boston, homes listed between April 16–30 sell 13.5 days faster than an average listing and for a $4,500 premium. The report also found that Boston listings that appear on Zillow on Wednesday garner more buyer views within the first week than those listed on other days.”
But the market isn’t generally driven by the calendar; it’s primarily driven by supply and demand. Late April is about when the supply starts to peak, and the demand to ebb, said Jim Nemetz, a 32-year veteran of the Boston/Newton market and manager of Hammond Real Estate’s Chestnut Hill office.
“I don’t dispute the numbers, but this is where data can throw people off a little bit,” he said. “Real estate, like politics, is all local.”
A typical year goes like this, per Nemetz: the early part of the spring market is characterized by very few properties on the market, with a lot of buyers competing for them. Correctly-priced properties listed in late February/early March tend to go under agreement quickly.
“Then as we progress toward March and the early part of April,” he said, “the properties come on the market fast and furious and they get snapped up fast and furious.”
At the end of the spring market, approaching Memorial Day, properties are still rolling on at a high rate of speed, but buyers are drying up.
That’s historically been the case, but one recent year broke the pattern: 2015 was anything but typical. That year, Boston got more than five feet of snow in February and almost none melted. That pushed the beginning of the spring market forward a month or so and the market took the rest of the year to catch up.
“Don’t get me wrong, March, April and May are all good months,” Nemetz said, “but if I were going to list my own home for sale, my target date would be March 1.
Nemetz also said there’s nothing magical about listing a property on a Wednesday. It’s simply broker behavior. Customarily, agents who take a new listing will announce it to the other agents in their office on Monday. They then give those agents the opportunity to tour the house on Tuesday, before any other agents in the market get the chance to see it. They’ll then list the property and hold a town-wide open house on Wednesday or Thursday, and schedule the open houses for Saturday and/or Sunday.
So, while national, statewide and regional statistics can be interesting and informative, they’re no substitute for understanding your competition and knowing your market – right down to the neighborhood level.