When it came to selling houses my broker Melissa Bradley used to say, “There’s a reason for every season.” Traditionally the home selling season in Marin begins as early as right after the Super Bowl and lasts through the summer. That’s not to say homes don’t sell other times, because they do, but statistically you could probably break down the highest volume of sales into even fewer months. April through July we typically see the most homes sold every year.
Then again in those months we also see the most homes on the market, so selling in the ‘off’ season gives an opportunity for sellers to be up against less competition. My largest sale to date came one December in Tiburon. There’s nothing like celebrating the holidays with the largest sale of your career! Some sellers like to come on the market right after the New Year in anticipation of potentially longer periods on the market and escrow closes before the spring inventory buildup.
This year right now September, October and into November look really good for sellers. All year the inventory on the market has been sparse, and well priced homes have been flying off the market, often with more than one offer. There are still plenty of buyers in the market and interest rates have stayed low, so demand is very good. All this is shaping into prime seller’s market conditions as the leaves are turning and the weather cooling.
This is a complete 180 from last year at this time. The market seemed dead, with many home listings expiring without selling. Prices had dropped to levels that had seller’s giving pause and buyers thinking, ‘I wonder how much less the seller’s will take.’ In 2012 prices began to rebound in Marin for the first time in years. Successful buyers have had to shift their mindsets to, ‘I wonder if there will be multiple offers? How much over the asking price will I need to offer if there is more than one offer? What if there are five or more offers?’
Every sale is different. Each buyer’s and seller’s circumstances are unique and when everything comes together a buyer and seller agree on a price and deal moves forward. That is at least until inspections happen and then buyers typically will ask for credits and price reductions based on property deficiencies. Sometimes deals continue forward after further negotiations, sometimes they fall apart. In today’s market the sellers have the upper hand in these situations.
The seller’s mindset has become, ‘Good luck finding another house, I’ll just go back on the market and find a buyer willing to pay my price’. In the buyer’s market of the past few years when negotiating, I was fond of saying to agents representing sellers, “You can always negotiate with the other offer.” That was when there was no other offer on the table and little hope of another offer coming in.
For the first time in years the sellers are in positions of power again. Markets are cyclical. The buyers will have the power again, maybe sooner than later, but if you are a buyer into today’s market you might not want to wait for the next dip in the market. You could be waiting a while.