School is back in session nationwide, and that occasion is typically seen as the unofficial start of autumn. For real estate professionals, that might come as a stark contrast, because the summer buying season usually keeps them busy. However, recent analysis shows that fall might actually be the best time for many bargain-hunters to hit the market, because home prices tend to get more affordable around this time of year.
Just last autumn, an examination of home sales over a 15-year period starting in 2000 found October was typically the month in which buyers got the biggest discounts on asking prices, according to the industry data firm RealtyTrac. The average discount shoppers found October was about 2.6 percent below asking, outstripping the savings seen in winter months like December, January, and February.
The analysis even narrowed things down to the best day to buy: Oct. 8. On that day, the average buyer from 2000 to 2015 enjoyed a discount of 10.8 percent. That date came in ahead of Nov. 26, New Year’s Eve, Oct. 22 and Oct. 15, all of which saw average discounts of at least 9.1 percent.
What’s the big savings driver?
So the question many agents or brokers may have is, “Why do prices drop at this time of year?” Industry experts say there can be any number of factors involved, depending on where people live, how hot the market had been previously, and so on. All of these issues have a big impact on the number of and savings granted by real estate sales, so it’s important for brokers or agency owners to encourage their agents to stay active at this time of year.
October can be a prime buying season because the amount of daylight dwindles, but days are still relatively long for much of the month. In addition, the weather in most parts of the country cools, but not enough to deter people from showing up to an open house. Interestingly, warmer climates like the Southeast or Southwest, which tend to see a lot of “snowbirds” from northern states, sometimes see increased buying activity in the fall as people look to lock in deals so they can move before another winter begins.
Why should buyers act soon?
One of the biggest considerations here is that when people keep their homes on the market in the fall, sellers get more motivated, according to Trulia. Typically, they don’t want to deal with the dearth of shoppers that comes during and after the holiday season and may be a little more flexible when it comes to issues even beyond the sales price. For example, they might be more accommodating when letting buyers choose their move-in dates.
Industry experts also note those who buy nearer to the end of the year also get the benefit of shopping for new homes while holiday sales are going on. That can help them save a bit of money after they move in as well. Consequently, the more agents can do to highlight all the benefits of shopping throughout the fall, the better off both they and their clients are likely to be when it comes to finding the right home at the right price.
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