From the Star Ledger:
It used to be real estate agents spent the slow winter months sending out calendars and working on their business goals for the new year. But in a down market like this one, Realtors see the weeks between now and the Super Bowl as prime time to network for new clients and get a head start on the busy spring season.
“There’s a misunderstanding that winter is quiet,” said Andrea Webb, an agent with Keller Williams in Montclair who recently listed a house in Glen Ridge and had multiple offers by the middle of December.
In recent years, the busiest months for home sales have been June and July, but April through August is generally elevated. An average of 461,000 homes sold nationwide in June in 2007 through 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors. By comparison, nearly 252,000 homes were sold in January, consistently the slowest month in that same time period. Autumn sales fall between the two figures.
“Most good associates use the months of November and December as an opportunity to get organized for the coming spring market, which can arrive as early as January,” said Gary Large, president of the New Jersey Association of Realtors. “And, yes, it’s also a good time to take time off to be with family and friends, and recharge the batteries.”
But some realtors have a different approach, particularly as industry leaders are becoming more cautiously optimistic for 2012.
Some agents want to get a jump on that budding market. Homes are traditionally listed in spring when the weather is nice and families are looking so they can move into their new house before the next school year starts. But now, agents suggest their sellers host open houses in the colder months when there is less competition.
“We try to encourage the sellers to pretty much get their house on the market early in January to beat the rush, because most people tend to wait until the spring,” said Marilyn Bailey with Prudential New Jersey Properties in Morristown. “It’s a nice time of year to shop — not as many buyers are out there, so you’re not competing with other offers as much.”
The most serious buyers are out during these months, including corporate clients who are often relocated within the first quarter of the year and families who want to make friends in their new neighborhood before summer starts, Bailey said.