Is there a best time to purchase a new home? You’ve probably heard that the spring season is the peak homebuying season, and numbers seem to prove that. However, if you are not compelled to purchase in the spring would you be better off purchasing a home during another season of the year?
While Realtor Holly Roberson’s advice, “In Charleston seems that the best time to buy a home is when you find the one you love and have the financing to snag it,” is spot on, there may well be factors affecting when you choose to purchase your Charleston home.
What factors affect people’s choice of when to purchase a home?
Most people purchase a home in conjunction with major life events such as getting married, getting a divorce, family size increase, the death of a spouse, retirement or when they’ve downsized or upsized for a job change. These major life events are season less. People are always going to have them happening.
Most parents wish to minimize life disruption for their children when moving from one home to another. If they are able to do so, families prefer to align their new home purchases to the school year, selling and buying in time to complete the year in the “old” house and start summer in the “new” home. This allows their children to complete school in their current one and begin the fall term in their new one.
Do the seasons themselves affect people’s choice of when to shop for a home in the Charleston area? In northern climates, people don’t usually shop for homes in the winter. Since we don’t have ice and snow, typical wintry weather is not a factor here when it comes to getting out in January. Conversely, summer is hot here in the Lowcountry. It can be oppressive and may limit some people’s desire to shop for homes then. This translates to lower competition for available homes in the summer months.
How does demand affect average days on market for homes in the Charleston area?
Charleston’s spring real estate market is always active. The Charleston Trident Realtors’ Association report from March 2017 demonstrates this, “New Listings were up 3.8 percent... Pending Sales increased 8.6...Inventory shrank 16.8 percent.” The March upswing trend continued into April and May with each month’s new listings increasing 2.6% and 4.9%, respectively. 2017’s spring real estate market in the greater Charleston area was a roaring lion.
Buyer demand can be interpreted by looking at average days on market as a signifier of demand pace. Charleston Realtor Holly Roberson who is with Luxury Simplified, provided statistics from the Charleston MLS to illustrate how buyer demand for new construction homes has increased since the beginning of the year.
In January 2017, days on market for new construction homes in the tri-county area were 57 days with homes in Berkeley County having the shortest time on market at 36 days, followed by Dorchester County with 66 days and Charleston Country with 81 days.
In April, the average days on market for the area dropped to 53, with Charleston and Dorchester County properties having only 52 average days on market and Berkeley having 53 days on market. If you were trying to purchase a home in the spring market in Charleston, you would have been competing in a very active market.
Charleston resale homes exhibit similar declines in days on market since the first of the year.
Most likely, in the case of resale homes this spring, a buyer would experience a very competitive market, even ending up in multiple offer situations competing with others to purchase a listed home. Many buyers paid more than list price.
“In spring, there is generally a better selection for buyers but also lots of competition” said Dunes Properties Realtor Kristin Walker. Buyers will “pay closer to list price or in hot neighborhoods - and have to deal with bidding wars.” She continues, “in the late fall, there are fewer houses to buy but, as you get closer to the holidays, a buyer is more likely to get a discount on the asking price if the house has been sitting on the market.” Walker acknowledges that the varying geographic areas of Charleston’s market can have varying pressures on seasonality, “Best times are very different for primary home areas compared to second and vacation home areas.”
Jason Ogden, with The Cassina Group, told us, “On the beach islands, if you're looking for a deal, the fall/winter is generally the best time.” Ogden confirms what Walker said regarding second and vacation home areas. The fall or winter he says is the best time to purchase a home which has been used primarily as a vacation rental. Ogden explained, “because the rental income slows down, and the owners tend to get a little antsy. You may get a better deal in the fall, but some of the better properties [which came on market earlier in the year] probably are sold already.”
Time factor considerations for new construction homes
If you’re purchasing a to-be-built home from a production builder, there are other factors to be considered. We discussed many of these in a previous blog post “Is there a better time of the year to buy a new construction home?” Taking all the factors in our previous blog post into account, there are still other aspects to be considered, such as time to completion.
Pulte Group’s VP of Sales and Marketing for the Coastal Carolinas Jaymie Dimbath tells us, “Some buyers want to get into their new home before the school year. Some want to make sure that they are home for the holidays. Some are starting a job and want to time their transition around that. Everyone’s timing is truly personal to them. Because it takes 5-7 months to build a home, discussing your timing needs with your New Home Sales Consultant is very important in ensuring that we can help you accomplish your goal of a brand-new home!”
Can’t wait 5-7 months? Lowcountry builders frequently have inventory homes ready for sale, and those are perfect for people who must purchase a home because of an immediate need. Though keep in mind, choosing a to-be-constructed home on a lot from the builder’s available ones, allows you to personalize all your fixtures, finishes and fittings.
So, really, when’s the best time to buy a new home?
The best time to purchase a new home is when you’re ready. And you must be informed of how these affect your ability to find the home you desire. Happy hunting!
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