Here’s a politician’s answer for you: it depends. Really, it does. The best time to buy real-estate in Arlington depends on your priorities as a buyer.
If you want to have the most inventory to choose from, then the fray of the spring market is your best bet. If you want to reach into the bargain bin, then the slow winter market might serve you better. Here’s why.
Real-Estate as a Game of Musical Chairs
Not surprisingly, if someone is selling their property, they’re most likely also looking for another one to buy. Condo owners are looking to upgrade into more space with a townhome. Townhome owners are exploring detached house options. Empty-nesters are trying to downsize back into condos. And there are renters hoping to become homeowners.
It’s like a giant game of musical chairs, just more stressful and expensive.
So you need one segment to make a move, so the other segment can move in its place. Most families with children will avoid moving during the school year if they can help it. That’s why they put their homes on the market in the spring, so they can get it sold by the summer (school year’s end) and move on.
Of course, the nicer weather helps, but it’s not the main driver here. As a result, all the other segments have to wait for spring as well.
Buying in the Spring
Looking at 5 years of sales data for Arlington, you can see the spike in active listings during the spring months, followed by a steep drop off in the summer. There is usually a smaller spike in the autumn, as sellers try to get under contract before the holidays. Then things get awfully quiet during the winter.
So that’s why spring gives you the most to choose from. Unfortunately, it also brings out tons of other buyers, so the competition heats up. Prices tend to be higher as a result.
Buying in the Winter
Great, you may think, I’ll just wait until the winter months and buy at a discount. In some cases, this could work. Virtually no one puts their house on the market during the holidays. Unless they really have to due to a job change, divorce, etc. So you could get a better price from a seller under pressure.
However, in most cases the homes still on the market have been passed over many times. Maybe they need a lot of work, have quirky features, lack a good location, or are plain overpriced for what they have to offer. Consequently, properties take longer to sell.
Granted, you’ll come across plenty of exceptions, but year to year, that’s the general pattern the market follows. Regardless of the season though, I’m never too busy to help with your home search. Feel free to contact me below: