Time To Spring Backward

Let’s recap…Last week I put my counter-intuitive,counter-cyclical,counter-cultural-contrarian advice out there in no uncertain terms.

If you really want to sell your house…quit stalling. List it today. Get it on the market. In the middle of December. Right in the heart of holiday flux-time. Forget about next spring. Or next summer. Don’t waste any more precious time or shrinking equity.

Since I didn’t see a lot of bright and shiny new listings coming on this week, your overwhelming response was decidedly underwhelming. Looks like we’re going to surrender to the holidays once again. Succumb to the status quo. Choose the myth of realty over the reality of it.

Tell people to get their houses on the market these days and all you get back is a cacophony of collective excuses echoing:
No one buys this time of year. The weather is bad. My house looks better in the spring with flowers blooming. The market will be better then. Everyone moves during the summer to get settled before the new school year. There will be a lot more buyers then.

Did I miss anything? Any other old chestnuts about why this is such a terrible time to list a house? Funny. Over the last four years virtually every single thing we thought we knew about real estate has been turned upside down.
And yet, we still cling to old notions about how it works. Perhaps to give ourselves some illusion of comfort? Permission to kick the can a little further down the road? Hang onto the belief that there’s still a traditional world waiting for us somewhere around the bend?

Here’s the irony Sellers: There are ton of buyers out there. What’s holding them back? The lack of decent homes to choose from. They are tired of bank-owned bomb-shelters. They are wary of interminable short sales that remind them life is too short to wait for idiot lienholders to respond.

They are ready to plunk their money down on real homes offered by real sellers. There are plenty of recent multiple offers to prove it.

You can wait until spring when the flowers bloom but while you are waiting, the market will still be going down in value. Whatever you hope to gain will be eroded by the time you get there. The grass will be greener but your net proceeds won’t be.

And it’s true that a higher number of homes sell in the summer than in the winter. But it is also true that lots more homes don’t sell in the summer than in the winter. In other words, a higher percentage of homes available in the supposedly slow months between November and February actually do sell, than in the “good” months between May and August. Would you rather be selling, when there are fewer competing properties or when there are a whole lot more homes for buyers to choose from?

Perhaps in the 50’s there actually were more Ward and June Cleavers buying new houses in the summer so Wally and the Beav could settle in before school started. But these days nuclear families are a minority demographic in the Bay Area. The bulk of those brand new beautiful schools and family neighborhoods are quite a distance due east of here. And overall, California ranks close to last in terms of public schools. The school syndrome is simply not a huge market motivator. There is no there, here.

So each year around this same time…we tell ourselves that Christmas for real estate is really going to arrive in April. We did it last year and the year before and the year before that. And we are still waiting for it like April Fools. This year, make your Christmas list early.

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