Spring 2019 is upon us in the Pacific Northwest and what a wild winter we had. I’ve lived in this area all my life and only the only winter in my mind comparable to last month was the blizzard of 1990. Adding up the snow totals from Superbowl Sunday (February 3rd) through the following Tuesday, Woodinville received around 32 inches of snow! Even closer to the water and sea level SeaTac airport received a little over 20 inches, breaking a 50-year single-month record.
As you can imagine the freezing temperatures and snow slowed down the market in the month of February. Vendors were getting stuck trying to get places and yard arm signs weren’t exactly happening either. According to the NWMLS February Update brokers added 6,247 listings in February which was 1,037 fewer listings compared to February 2018. Regardless of the snow home prices are still trending positively in King County, with the median sale price up 2.4% from this time last year. That put the median price for a home in King County at $604,000 last month. With spring finally here the market is really heating up alongside the temperatures. I’m seeing lots of early action on my listings, busy open houses, and even back to some multiple offer scenarios with escalator clauses! I’ll spend the rest of this post explaining why I think spring is one of the best times of the year to list your home for sale. At the very bottom of the post I’ve also included a link to a detailed 12-page home selling game plan we’ve put together for sellers. This PDF covers everything from how to prepare your home for a sale all the way through closing.
Timing is Everything
Spring is a perfect time to list for families and anyone looking to move during warmer weather. Families love to sell or look for new homes during this time because it means if you’re changing schools you get a chance to finish out the year and move when school is out. This creates an annual cycle as well where new buyers want to start aggressively looking at options in the spring time so they can be settled by the next school year. Even if when selling you are going pending in a few days (which is still a real possibility right now) you still have the opportunity to stay in your home until you move out via a “rent-back.” “Rent-backs” are very common, especially during this time of the year. A rent-back means there is an addendum in the purchase and sale agreement which allows the buyer to rent the home “back” to the seller for an agreed upon amount of time. If you’re looking for a home in a hot neighborhood where multiple offers may be happening, it is not uncommon for the buyer to offer a rent-back for whatever reasonable amount of additional time the seller needs before moving and frequently this will be offered at no cost to the seller. This is done to create a more competitive offer and hopefully win the multiple offer scenario.
Here is some great data behind timing that sweet spot as well, and I think if anything we’re seeing a lagging selling “sweet spot” due to the winter snow so all throughout spring should be an excellent time to list. For the last four years in the greater Seattle area, homes that were listed in March and closed in April have received the highest sales price each year when compared to other months. In fact, historically waiting just 1 month and listing in April with a closing taking place in May or June has shown to sell for ~$100,000 less compared to similar homes that listed in March and closed in April!
Finally when talking about timing we need to think about what this time of year means from a buyer’s perspective when physically looking at your home. I think homes show really well around the Pacific Northwest during spring and early summer when everything is turning green and the days are getting longer. Gone are the winter bare spots and budding leaves bring new dimensions of privacy to back yards. With the increased inventory and demand for moving in spring/early summer you also end up with higher prices which means better comps for sellers when setting their home’s price.
Now is a Great Time to Start Planning
So if you like the reasons I mentioned and are considering listing in spring, now is a great time to start planning. Even though March is one of the most popular (and profitable) months to list, as I mentioned previously I think we’ve seen some regional lag due to the unprecedented snow in February. The clock to getting on the market for a spring or early summer close is ticking so I’ll share some general tips for how to plan getting ready but also check out the much longer Cascade Team game plan for selling your home below.
- Set Your Objectives. Are you moving for work, a change of scenery, or to cash out equity in a home you’ve had for awhile? I believe it is important for home owners to think about their objective or goals for a sale as it can shape what happens with your home before you put in on the market. Based on different goals selling could mean anything from going on the market as quickly as possible to even waiting a few months while you finish that basement remodel to maximize your sales potential.
- Create and Tackle the “To-Do” List. I walk through homes for my clients and give advice on prepping for a listing all the time. If you’d like to get a head start some of the most common items I recommend are: decluttering, painting or touch-up, fixing any leaky faucets or broken appliances, changing out broken or dim light bulbs and updating fixtures, landscape cleanup, and finally a thorough interior cleaning right before you hit the market.
- Get Serious About the Numbers. What is your home really worth? Working with an agent such as myself I’ll crunch the numbers and create a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) report for you based on the latest MLS data and nearby comps. You can use my report to set a price for your home that you’re most comfortable with. You can also use the property valuation report on my agent website if you’d like an automatic ballpark figure.
As always please feel free to contact me with any questions about buying or selling during the spring or any other time of year!