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How's the Market - Real Estate Newsletters

The Real Estate Cycle

Sellers often ask 'when is the right time of year to sell?' In order to answer this question let's look at the real estate cycle.

If we plot the number of homes listed by month a pattern emerges each year. The answer to this question requires us to analyze each season. The following graph shows the number of homes listed each month. Note that home sales actually lags this by 6-8 weeks - this is the minimum period of time it takes for a home to come on the market, and then close.

Spring (February/March - May)

Much of the housing activity is based on the school calendar. Home owners moving into the town want to register their children in the schools before the start of the school year; home owners leaving the town often wait until the school year has finished. The school year starts in August and so the months preceding this time is when the majority of housing activity occurs. Approximately 45% of the home sales occur in the Spring Market.

Buyers are out in force once the weather begins to improve in February and March, but many sellers believe the best time to bring their home on the market is when their garden starts to bloom - this is the reason for the peak in listing activity in May/June.

So, with few homes for sale and many buyers looking to purchase early in the spring is the best time to bring your home on the market. For buyers this is often the time when competing offers is the norm, and carefully crafted offers are required to be successful. Many buyers think that the only important component of an offer is the offer price. While it is important it is just one component - a recent newsletter How to Make your Offer Successful in a Competitive Situation explains the strategy the MA Properties Online team uses.

For sellers concerned about what their garden will look like early in the spring market (January, February or March) the MA Properties Online team often take the exterior photographs in the fall. The fall colors make for a stunning backdrop for a home and with the outside photographs 'in the can' you are able to bring your home on the market as soon as the buyers are out in force in early spring once the weather improves.

Buyer Fatigue

Every year we get to a point in the spring market where buyers seem to slow down and homes, that would have sold for competing offers a few weeks earlier, languish on the market unsold. We call this period 'buyer fatigue' or the buyer doldrums' - with the increase in the number of homes coming on the market buyers become more selective and think 'maybe something better will come on the market next week. This continues until the number of homes coming on the market starts to decrease and we pass Memorial Day which is when most people consider the summer market commencing.

Summer Market (June - August)

June is often quite brisk with buyer activity increasing. Buyers begin to recognize that the number of homes coming on the market is decreasing and if they are to register their children in the school system they will need to buy, and buy soon considering most offers take 6-8 weeks to close.

July, August and early September are traditionally slower months where vacations take precedence and buyers have missed the late August deadline to register their children in the school system. Homes that have sat on the market unsold begin to be bought as buyer realize that fewer homes are coming on the market.

Buyers in this time frame are often concerned whether they can they can register their children in the schools. The answer depends on the town with two main rules:

  1. Purchase and sale - these towns require a copy of the Purchase and Sale agreement to validate that you are moving into the town.
  2. Head on the pillow - these towns require that you have actually moved into the town and require a utility bill or similar to prove that you actually physically reside in the town.

As a buyer you will need to check with the school system to see what their requirements are for registration of children into the school system.

Late summer is often a good time for buyers to pick up bargains before buyer and seller activity picks up in the fall market.

Fall (September - October)

We see a small increase in the number of homes coming on the market in the fall. There are not as many buyers active in this time frame, or sellers bringing their homes on the market in the fall. Buyers who are renting in the town, or those who are not concerned with any school admission deadlines are generally the active buyers.

Winter (November - January)

As soon as Halloween arrives people start to focus on Thanksgiving, Christmas and preparing for winter. The number of homes coming on the market is at its lowest during this season of the year. Existing sellers often take their homes off the market hoping for more success in the following spring. Any new homes coming on the market during this times are often when sellers are compelled to sell, perhaps because of job relocation. For buyers who are able and willing to buy in this season, this is often a time when sellers are very motivated to sell and homes may sell for less than what they would in other seasons of the year. And that brings the real estate cycle full circle.


  1. If you are a buyer, then late April, May when there are lots of sellers entering the market and lots of choices for buyers and thus buyer fatigue strikes many, is often a time when you can buy for less than what you would have had to pay even just weeks before. Alternately, the winter months offer motivated sellers but not as much choice if you are buying.
  2. If you are a seller, then early in the spring season once the winter breaks, possibly as early as mid-February all the way to mid-April when the buyers are out in force but not many sellers have bought their homes on the market yet because they are waiting for their gardens to bloom. If you are a seller contemplating an early spring listing, then schedule the exterior photos to be taken in the prior fall to take advantage of the fall colors, rather than coming on the market with drab winter exterior photos. June is also a very good month for a seller, along with September.

If you would like an estimate of what your home would sell for in today's market I would be more than happy to come by, have a look at your home, and then provide a CMA (comparative market analysis) which will provide you with an estimate of what your home should sell for, along with a marketing plan to get maximum exposure for your home.

If you'd like to chat more about the topic presented here, or the Real Estate market in general, then please call me on (617) 997 9145, or email me at

Lexington Statistics

MLS data is provided by MLSPIN. While MLS data is believed to be accurate, it cannot be guaranteed. MLS data is constantly being updated, making any analysis a snapshot at a particular time. All raw data remains the intellectual property of MLSPIN.
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