The housing market in Northern California fluctuates throughout the year, with an increase in home sales in the spring and a decrease in the winter. 

These fluctuations are influenced by the inventory of available homes, home prices, buyer motivation and sincerity, and the beginning and end of the school year. 

If you are planning to buy or sell a home, you should be aware of how these seasonal changes may affect your experience. 

Having a solid understanding of these seasonal changes may help you sell your home quickly and for the best price or buy a home that is affordable and meets the needs of your family. 

Below are some ways the seasons impact the housing market.

The housing market fluctuates according to the seasons.   

In Northern California, as well as in the rest of the country, the housing market fluctuates greatly with the seasons. This includes home prices and the inventory of available homes for sale.

Seasonal Changes in Inventory         

In Northern California, the housing market is fairly slow during the holidays – the period from mid-November to mid-January, when most people are too busy with holiday activities and family celebrations to take on the hassle of moving during this time. 

Winter home buyers may face fewer options since inventory tends to be lower in the winter months, and they may begin to feel desperate to find a home quickly. With fewer homes on the market, buyers may take longer to find the right home during the winter.

Sellers whose listings haven’t sold before the holidays sometimes withdraw their listings in December when getting a good price and selling quickly are less likely. They then relist their homes at the beginning of the spring season when homes are more likely to sell quickly. 

In the spring, the number of new listings picks up before slowing down by the end of the summer. 

And from Labor Day through early autumn, the number of listings picks up again before dropping off in November. This results in a large increase in home sales activity in the spring and another smaller increase again in the early fall. 

The luxury homes market tends to see an increase in listings in September, as the autumn sales season begins. 

Seasonal Changes in Home Sales

The number of homes sold increases by 34 percent in the early spring season between February and March. 

This increase continues during the months of May, June, July, and August, which are the busiest months for home sales. 

Typically, home sales activity peaks in June. Home sales during this period of time make up 40 percent of the total annual sales volume. 

Home sales activity decreases during the winter months, and the months with the lowest sales activity are November, December, January, and February. January tends to be the month with the slowest home sales activity.

In the Bay area, the seasons may have a slightly different effect. In Napa and Sonoma Counties, there is a large market for second homes. Home sales in these areas tend to peak in mid to late-summer, with an increase of listings in September and sales in October. Since it takes a few weeks for a sale to close, we see these sales figures reflected in the month of October before dropping off toward the end of the year.

If you live in San Francisco, the best month for you to sell your home is May, which means you should list your home in March. This may bring you 4.52 percent more profit than the annual average, according to transaction data provided by HomeLight.

According to this data, if you live in Sacramento, November may be the best month to sell your home, which means you should list your home in September. This may bring you 3.11 percent more profit than the yearly average.

Buyers may be more sincere in the winter.

While winter may typically be a slower season for home sales, buyers who are looking for homes in the winter may be more sincere and more motivated than those who are home shopping in the spring. 

A home in Sacramento would typically have 50 to 100 potential buyers come through during open houses in the summer and may have around 10 offers. In the winter, there may only be a dozen potential buyers at open houses and between one and three offers.  

Many of those moving during the winter may be relocating because of a job change, experiencing financial difficulties that require a quick move, or going through changes in the family, such as separation or divorce. 

Buyers in these situations may not be able to wait until the peak season to move since time and money are factors that require them to move quickly.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are buyers who aren’t in a hurry to move. They start looking in the early spring when more homes are beginning to come on the market.

Because these buyers have more options from which to choose, they tend to feel that they can take their time finding the right home. 

Buyers with young children can be extremely motivated during the later months of the summer, as they are trying to get into a new home before school starts if their children will be attending a new school.

Many families prefer to relocate in the summertime.

According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homebuyers tend to prefer the summer months for moving, especially families with school-aged children living at home. A summer move makes it easier for children to get acclimated to their new communities and start attending new schools at the beginning of the school year, rather than moving during the middle of the school year. 

As the school year ends, many families have more free time to prepare their homes for sale and look for new homes since they no longer have the responsibility of afterschool activities or helping their children with schoolwork.

You may be able to get your price in any season. 

While there are seasonal fluctuations in the housing market, and more homes sell in the spring than in the winter, it may still be possible for you to get a good price for your home regardless of the season. 

With the early spring buying season, there are a higher number of homes on the market, which is great for buyers since they have more choices. Sellers will also have more competition with so many other homes available. 

And the lower number of buyers and available inventory may result in fewer homes being sold during the winter, but it also means there are fewer available listings for buyers to consider, leaving your home with less competition.

Either of these situations could work to your advantage if you price your home correctly and find the right buyer since homebuyers generally don’t mind paying a fair price for the right home. 

It may be difficult to decide when the best time is to buy or sell a home, and there are seasonal factors to consider in deciding this. Whether you are planning to sell your home or buy a new one, keep these seasonal changes in mind to help you get the results you want as you go through the process.


When you purchase a home with land, there are red flags that may alert you to potential problems.

These issues don’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t purchase the property, and most of them may be easily resolved, but it is important to be informed about any issues that may affect your ability to enjoy your new property and use it as intended.

Below are 10 potential red flags to watch out for before purchasing your new property.

  1. Easements Issues
  2. Water Rights
  3. Faulty or Inadequate Septic Systems
  4. Contaminated Well Water
  5. Boundary Disputes and Surveys
  6. Usability of the Land
  7. Restrictions on Building Additional Structures
  8. Ingress or Egress Issues
  9. Electrical Power Source on Raw Land
  10. Nonexistent or Inadequate Internet Access

1. Easements Issues

Easements provide a person or organization with the rights to use a homeowner’s land for certain purposes.

For example, a utility company may have an easement to access a utility pole or buried cable on your property.

It’s important to find out what easements are present on your property, because it may restrict your right to build additional structures.

For example, you don’t have the right to install a pool on your property if it sits even partially in an easement, and you may not be permitted to plant a long line of trees if it blocks your neighbor’s view.

Find out about the property’s easements before you make any decisions so you are aware of any potential problems before they occur. Types of easements include the following:

Easement Appurtenant

These easements are attached to the formal ownership of the land and stay with the property when it is sold.

These easements allow property owners to access their land by passing through a neighbor’s land. This is common in situations where two properties share a driveway. If the property you are considering shares a driveway with another property, you will need to make sure you have the access you need.

Easement in Gross

These easements do not transfer to the new owners when a property is sold.

For example, if the neighbors have given permission for the previous owner to cross their land to access a beach, the buyer would not be legally entitled to do the same. Knowing about these easements ahead of time may eliminate any confusion or disagreements with your neighbors.

Prescriptive Easements

These easements are for when someone has been using the property on a regular basis for a period of time without being restricted by the owner. This is also known as “squatter’s rights.”

In California, if a squatter lives on a property and pays the property taxes for five years, that squatter may have legal rights to the property. It’s important to find out who is living on the property and what their arrangements are, whether it’s the seller, renters, or others. This may protect you from purchasing a property that someone else may have the legal right to inhabit.

2. Issues Concerning Water Rights

It’s crucial to secure water rights for your new property to make sure you have sufficient water resources to support what you plan to do on it.

Riparian water rights provide legal access to bodies of water that are adjacent to a homeowner’s property, such as rivers, creeks, and streams. These rights are appurtenant, which means that the rights run with the land and are transferred to the new owner when a property is sold. Homeowners have reasonable use of this water, which means that their consumption must not interfere with other landowners downstream.

Appropriative water rights are used when someone appropriates water from areas where it exists naturally to land that does not naturally have water. The two types of water rights you need to consider include the following:


Domestic water rights refer to the water you use inside your home and to water the lawn or a garden. These rights do not include water used for irrigation for agricultural purposes.


If you need water for agricultural purposes, you will have to acquire water rights for irrigation. These rights are much cheaper, and they are separate from water from your well. 

California residents may find out more information about water rights from the State Water Board’s Division of Water Rights.

3. Faulty or Inadequate Septic Systems

Not having an adequate septic system could result in drainage problems, and may even cause sewage to back up into your home. Homes built on properties in rural areas require septic systems to manage waste.

Size requirements for a septic system’s leach field are determined by the size of the house and the number of potential occupants, so it’s important to make sure it is large enough to handle any waste from the home.

4. Contaminated Well Water

Since rural homes aren’t hooked up to municipal water systems, they rely on wells for water.

It’s important to have any wells on the property tested for contaminants, including minerals, radon, and arsenic, to make sure it is safe for drinking. If the drinking water is deemed unsafe, you will have the extra expense of a water treatment plan.

5. Boundary Disputes and Surveys

To ensure you have accurate information about the property’s boundaries, avoid relying on an existing survey of the property, and instead, have a new survey completed.

If the survey you are using has the previous owner’s name on it instead of yours, you may end up with problems if there are boundary disputes or issues with easement locations.

If your name isn’t on your survey certification, you won’t have any legal recourse if the survey has errors.

Having a new survey completed will confirm your property’s boundaries and protect you in the event of a dispute.

6. Usability of the Land

As you research a property, keep in mind what you want to do with it.

If you plan to do any farming, make sure the land isn’t prone to flooding or erosion, and you may want to avoid a property that has drastic slopes or changes in elevation.

If you plan to raise livestock, you must make sure the property is suitable and can be used for this purpose.

Local zoning restrictions may affect how you can use your property, so be sure to find out about any restrictions before making a purchase.

7. Restrictions on Building Additional Structures

If you plan to build additional structures on the land, such as a barn, guesthouse, or other outbuildings, you will need to check the deed restrictions and zoning ordinances for the property to make sure you are legally permitted to do so. This is also important if you plan to own animals or have a home-based business.

A title search does not address zoning issues, so make sure you check the zoning of the property before purchasing it. There may have been zoning changes since the previous owner purchased the property, which may prohibit you from building a structure on the land.

8. Ingress or Egress Issues

Ingress refers to the right to enter a property, and egress refers to the right to exit it. These rights often exist as part of the property’s easements. For example, because a utility company has an easement on a property, representatives from that company have the right to come onto your property to access utility poles, meters, and buried cable.

If the property you are purchasing is landlocked, make sure you have the right to access it through an easement or right of ingress and egress. You may even want to make ingress and egress rights part of the deed so you won’t require a separate easement. This makes documenting these rights easier and may appeal to a future buyer if you eventually decide to sell your property.

9. Electrical Power Source on Raw Land

If you are purchasing raw land that doesn’t have an existing power source on it, you will need to find out if electricity is available, what the process of securing the power source is, and what the cost will be to do so.

Skipping this step may result in you purchasing a property that is not accessible to power or may require great expense to do so. Keep in mind that in the event of an electrical outage, rural areas are often the last to have power restored, so you may want to purchase a back-up generator power source as well.

10. Nonexistent or Inadequate Internet Access

Services such as phone, cable television, and high-speed Internet may be limited in rural areas, so make sure you check into this before you make a purchase.

While you might be able to get these services in some areas, you may end up with only one provider option and slow data speeds. If you don’t do your research, you might end up with poor service or no service at all.


Watch out for these red flags and do thorough research before making any decisions about purchasing your new home with land. 

Remember that these red flags don’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t purchase a property, but they are issues that you should know about so you can make an informed decision and find solutions to potential problems if necessary. 

While purchasing a home can be an exciting experience, it may also seem a bit overwhelming, so it’s important to work with a knowledgeable Realtor who can help you through the process. 

Contact us today to learn more about what to look for when research properties with land and find some of the best land properties in Northern California.