CommentaryMarket December 19, 2023

How Slow is the Market in December and the Holidays?

The cyclical nature of the market is a long discussed topic. It’s no secret that the traditional “busy season” is the spring, with the key word “traditionally.” In typical market cycles, the summer remains active, transactions tail off in the autumn, and things get quiet around the holidays and winter time.

But we aren’t in a typical market here in Westchester and the surrounding areas, and we haven’t been since the Covid pandemic. Right now, the low inventory has resulted in a significant amount of pent up demand, and homes listed around the holidays are enjoying attention that makes it feel like spring despite the temperature. There are legions of prospective home buyers who didn’t have much luck in the spring or summer who are still looking in earnest.

Before I explain why inventory is so low, let me draw a picture of what buyers are dealing with by looking at history.

In November of 2019, 365 single family homes were listed for sale in Westchester County.
In November of 2023, 292 single family homes were listed for sale in the county. That’s not an insignificant difference, but let’s look at May of both years:
May 2019: 1285 new listings
May 2023: 733 new listings

522 fewer listings going active in the traditional busy season is going to have a domino effect. The law of supply and demand is unforgiving, and even though rates virtually doubled from the same time last year, it remains a robust seller’s market and with good reason. People still prefer to live indoors. Westchester is a destination for many reasons, not the least of which is that big city a short train ride south of us. Yet this is not just a Westchester thing; inventory is low everywhere, with similar dynamics challenging buyers.

Instead of winter hibernation, buyers remain on the hunt until they can find something they can buy. We’ve always said that anyone looking this time of year is typically more serious than average, and their numbers have grown. Low inventory does that; unsatisfied demand remains until it is satisfied.

Why is inventory so low? I’ll dive into that in the next post. Suffice to say, if you want to need to sell, waiting isn’t necessary. The buyers are active and looking like Easter, not Christmas, is around the corner.