CommentaryMarket February 25, 2019

Waiting for the Flowers? Bad Idea.

The spring real estate market in New York starts January 2 for a variety of reasons. The holidays are behind us, NYC buyers get an early start, and often, those who need to sell know that if they wait too long there will be a smaller selection from which to buy if they don’t sell expediently. I could go on. Perhaps the least discussed reason why the so-called spring market starts in the dead of winter is the anticipation of spring around the corner. In a market where 60 and 90 day closings are the norm, a January contract could stretch into April, and if problems or delays occur, the summer. That’s nuts, but it’s true.

I’ll repeat something you may have glossed over: The anticipation of spring. We all know the seasons change. We all know that the weather will warm up. And we all know that the spring growth is around the corner. 

This is why I’ll try to debunk a damaging myth that not enough home sellers see through: The idea that waiting for the flowers to bloom will attract more buyers. 

Yes, flowers and foliage are prettier than winter dreariness, but I’ve got news for those of you who want to wait until April or May’s flowers to list your house: No one else’s flowers are blooming either. Waiting for the spring bloom to list doesn’t give you an advantage, it puts you behind the market cycle. The buyers are out  now, and inventory is lower now than it was last year at this time, which was historically low. There are buyers with nothing to buy. And at some point, many give up and sign a lease because they don’t want to wait until May to purchase. They want to close by then so they have the summer to get things together for the next school year, whether they have school aged children or not. 

If you need to wait until “calendar spring” because of an external matter, like being paid a bonus, starting a new job, the sale of another property, completion of improvements or something beyond  your control, that’s one thing. However, if the only reason for your delay is the arrival of spring colors, you are missing the boat. Buyers are looking now. Buyers don’t make buying decisions based on foliage. Winter is shared equally this time of year. “But Phil” you may say, “our landscaping a huge advantage! We want that advantage!” Then take photos of your home in full May and June bloom. We’ll put those pictures on your MLS listing, on your home’s website, and in all the marketing. But don’t wait. 

Buyers buy because a home fits their needs. The location, condition, layout, schools, house characteristics, community and price are all far more important to buyers than flowers, even if your rose bushes and rhododendron are your pride and joy. If you wait until May or June to list thinking that you’ll be all settled in your next home by September, you are gravely mistaken. The Spring bloom nice, but from the market cycle perspective they are fool’s gold.