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.

Sources:

https://www.bayareamarketreports.com/trend/seasonality-and-the-real-estate-market
https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/seasonality-in-the-housing-market
https://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/best-time-to-sell-your-home-San-Francisco-14054304.php
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/010717/seasons-impact-real-estate-more-you-think.asp
https://www.upnest.com/1/post/when-is-the-best-time-to-sell-a-home/
https://goldenstatemortgage.com/best-time-buy-house-california/
https://goldenstatemortgage.com/best-time-buy-house-california/
https://www.trulia.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-buying-a-home-this-winter/
https://www.bayareamarketreports.com/trend/seasonality-and-the-real-estate-market
https://www.homelight.com/best-time-to-sell-house/san-francisco-ca
https://www.homelight.com/best-time-to-sell-house/sacramento-ca

If you’re thinking of selling your home, you have probably wondered about its marketability. Will potential buyers be impressed with your corner lot, stainless steel appliances, or three-car garage? Will they be deterred by an outdated bathroom, a 20-year-old HVAC system, or leased solar electricity equipment? 

As you prepare your home for sale, there are some foundational things you can do to make your home more appealing to a large percentage of potential buyers. Below are some of the most common and important factors that affect how attractive your home is to potential buyers. 

1. How recently was your kitchen remodeled?

Today’s buyers want stainless steel appliances, an open-concept design, and islands or breakfast bars. According to a HelloFresh survey, 64% of home buyers claimed that a large island is a must-have in the kitchen. 

Maple cabinetry, which has been a popular choice for many years, has recently decreased in popularity, while farmhouse sinks and tile backsplashes have become more highly sought-after. 

Granite countertops are still popular with buyers, but quartz and marble have grown in popularity over the years.

According to Realtor.com’s Active Spring Home Shoppers Report, 80% of homebuyers view the kitchen as one of their top three most important rooms in their home, so the condition of your kitchen will have a heavy influence on how buyers see your home. 

2. How recently were your bathrooms remodeled?

According to Modernbathroom.com, bathrooms tend to be overlooked when homeowners make renovation decisions. Instead, they focus on more heavily used spaces, such as kitchens and living areas. 

But buyers want updated bathrooms, and while you may not recoup the full cost of high-end upgrades, some upgrades may help your home be more desirable to buyers. Many buyers want updated vanities with granite countertops, large walk-in showers, and high-end finishes, but if you don’t want to do a complete renovation, there are still things you can do to improve your bathroom’s appeal. Even something as simple as re-caulking the bathtub and installing a new toilet and fixtures can improve how buyers view your bathroom. 

3. How old is your roof?

According to Bob Vila of This Old House, a roof in poor condition is a major red flag for potential buyers because roofs are so expensive to replace, and new buyers do not want the extra expense. 

If your roof is fairly new but has discoloration or looks dirty, cleaning it could make it look like new again. If there are small areas that need to be repaired, you may be able to do that without replacing the entire roof. 

If your roof is older, it’s important to consider the durability of the materials when deciding whether or not to fully replace it. Cedar shingles typically last up to 20-25 years, metal roofs 30-50 years, concrete tiles 40-75 years, and clay tiles 50-100 years. So, if you have a 20-year-old cedar shingle roof, it might be time to replace it, but if you have 20-year-old concrete or clay tiles, you’ve got some time.

4. Type of roof

There are many different types of roofing materials, some of which are more appealing to buyers than others. Concrete roofs can look like wood shingles, but they will last a lot longer, and many of them have 50-year or lifetime warranties. Wood shingles may be less desirable since they don’t last as long as some other materials. Tile roofs are a plus, but the drawback is that they are difficult to walk on and repair. 

If you are planning to replace your roof before you sell, you should also take the cost of materials and return on investment into consideration. Metal roofs look clean and modern, but the cost of a metal roof is a lot higher than traditional shingles, and the return on investment is much lower for metal, according to the Remodeling 2019 Cost vs Value Report

5. HVAC system (Heating, Ventilating, & Air Conditioning)

Your HVAC system includes your furnace and air conditioning units, as well as the ventilation needed for those units to run efficiently in your home. If your system is older than 20 years, it could have a negative effect on your home’s marketability. 

HVAC systems are costly to replace and potential buyers are unlikely to want the added expense after moving in.

Today’s buyers expect energy-efficient systems that are properly working and not in need of repairs, and many buyers also want thermostats that they can control through Wi-Fi with their smartphones. If your system has seen better days, you should consider replacing it. 

Routine maintenance can help your HVAC system run more efficiently and last longer. This includes changing filters regularly and having an annual inspection. A well-maintained HVAC system lasts 15-20 years, according to an article on Realtor.com. If you’ve had your system for several years, and you’ve properly maintained it, buyers will appreciate your efforts.

6. Type of water heater

A conventional water heater heats water and stores it until you need it. As you use the hot water, the water level in the tank lowers, and then cold water enters the tank and is heated. If you use hot water faster than your water heater can heat it, you’ll end up with a cold shower. 

A tankless water heater provides hot water on-demand, rather than heating water and storing it for later use. Since there is no tank, when you turn on the water, cold water flows through the unit and is heated instantaneously.                                                                                          

Tankless units can produce 2-5 gallons of hot water per minute and can be more efficient than conventional units, but they can cost up to three times more. Many buyers like the idea of having hot water on-demand, so having a tankless unit will increase the appeal of your home. 

7. How many stories is your home?

About 64% of home buyers want single-story homes, according to a study by the National Association of Home Builders. This is due in part to seniors and Baby Boomers who are retiring or downsizing. Fewer than half of Generation Xers and one-third of Millennials reported a preference for single-story homes. 

While two-story and multi-story homes can offer extra privacy and a lower risk of burglary, they are also more expensive to heat and cool and have a greater risk of accidents. 

Single-story homes are easier to maintain, safer to navigate, and easier to evacuate, but they may offer less privacy than those with more stories. 

Keep in mind that certain types of buyers are attracted to certain types of homes, So young families might love a two-story home, while smaller families or older buyers may feel right at home in a single-story home.

8. Age of windows

Buyers favor energy-efficient windows, which may reduce heating and cooling costs by 12%, according to Kiplinger.

Heat gained and lost through windows makes up 25-35% of the cost of heating and cooling homes, according to Energy.gov. Windows that are old, single-paned, or of poor quality are a turn-off for buyers.

9. How many garage spaces does your home have?

92% of buyers looking for new-construction homes want a two-car or three-car garage. The majority of home buyers are couples, so having at least a two-car garage provides both of them with space to store their vehicles.

The Consumer and Products Insights Report found that approximately 53% of all homebuyers want at least a two-car garage in their new homes. 

Not having a garage is a deal-breaker for some potential buyers, while having at least a two-car garage makes it much more marketable.

10. Does your house use solar electricity?

Starting in 2020, California will require all new homes to be built with solar panels, according to a CNBC article, but even if you have an older home, installing solar panels may be a smart choice. 

Installing solar panels in your home could eliminate or drastically reduce your electric bill. Today’s home buyers are looking for energy-efficient features in their new homes, and solar energy helps meet the demands of these savvy buyers. 

Purchasing solar panels can be expensive, but leasing them may create problems and deter potential buyers, according to Consumer Reports. If you sell your home before your lease is up, your buyers will have to assume the lease, or you will have to buy out the lease, which can be costly. In addition, leasing companies may install more panels than you would like or place them in highly visible areas. 

11. Landscape features

The outside of your home is the first thing potential buyers see, so it’s crucial to make sure your home has great curb appeal. If a home has poor landscaping, buyers may think the inside is also not up to par. 

Having an automatic sprinkler system may make it easier to maintain the lawn, which is a plus for buyers. And having a private backyard with mature trees will also add to the appeal of your home, especially if your new buyers plan to spend time outside. 

In addition to improving your home’s curb appeal, a well-maintained, attractive landscape may add up to 10% to the value of your home.

12. I am in proximity to

According to Porch.com, the neighborhood is the second-most important feature for homebuyers, after the number of bedrooms. A great neighborhood should be in proximity to amenities that buyers want to access within their communities, rather than travel for long distances for things such as shopping, entertainment, and doctor’s appointments. If your home is close to public transportation, shopping, restaurants, medical facilities, retirement communities, or other amenities, it may appeal more to buyers. 

You may not be able to change the neighborhood in which your home is located, but your location may affect the type of buyer attracted to your home. For example, physicians and medical professionals may be more likely to buy a home near hospitals or facilities where they work. If your home has easy access to public transportation, it may attract those who depend on it to get where they need to go.

13. Special features

Some buyers look for homes with a great view, while others focus more on the features just outside their doors, such as a sidewalk or additional detached garage. Buyers with children may look for homes within walking distance of schools, and others may want a guesthouse for housing friends or family members. 

Some buyers may want the extra space offered by a corner lot, but others may be concerned about the additional maintenance and traffic it brings, as well as the greater risk for break-ins in a space that isn’t surrounded by other homes on both sides.

Although not many homes have all of these special features, it’s good to promote the ones you do have. Whatever special features your home has, there are buyers out there who will value them. 

14. Condition of the home

Most buyers are looking for homes that won’t require them to do major renovations, so if your home is in poor condition, it can be a deterrent to buyers who don’t want to take on costly and time-consuming home improvement projects. 

Buyers will notice things like creaky wood floors, broken tiles, evidence of previous water damage, cracks in drywall, and HVAC systems that are past their prime, and these could be deal- breakers for some buyers.

While some things may be seen as quirky features, other things just need to be fixed. So if your carpet is worn out and stain-covered, it’s time to replace it. If your roof is leaky and worn, it’s time to get a new one. These improvements make your home more marketable regardless of its character.

In Conclusion

There is no one size fits all home, but the list above reflects the foundational characteristics that should be considered when trying to understand how marketable your home is.

To gain an even better understanding of what matters to homebuyers today, make sure you read one of our articles on home renovations ROI

Sources:
https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-home-buyers-and-sellers-generational-trends-report-08-16-2019.pdf
https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2019/
https://porch.com/resource/how-different-generations-shop-for-homes
https://www.realtor.com/research/spring-home-shoppers/
https://www.redfin.com/blog/granite-stainless-steel-and-breakfast-bars-are-the-creme-de-la-creme-of-kitchen-trends/
https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/ready-to-sell-17-things-to-do-first-49959#wash-the-roof
https://www.roofingcalc.com/how-long-does-a-roof-last/
https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/what-is-an-hvac-system/
https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/what-is-a-tankless-water-heater/
http://nahbnow.com/2016/04/two-thirds-of-home-buyers-seek-single-story-living/
https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/one-story-vs-two-story-home-which-is-better/
https://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/real-estate/T010-S001-home-features-today-s-buyers-want-most/index.html
https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/design/windows-doors-and-skylights/update-or-replace-windows
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/05/solar-power-can-boost-a-homes-value-in-these-10-states-the-most.html
https://www.consumerreports.org/energy-saving/real-cost-of-leasing-vs-buying-solar-panels/
https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/make-corner-lot-right-choice/
https://www.thebalance.com/buying-a-house-that-needs-work-1798264

The recent onslaught of wildfires has left many communities in Northern California devastated.

The effects have been immense as fires have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of land, wiped out countless neighborhoods, and even leveled the entire town of Paradise. This destruction has left thousands of people without homes and faced with the burden of trying to rebuild their lives. 

For many residents, recovering from this disaster has meant finding temporary housing, rebuilding their homes, or relocating to different communities. While Northern Californians take on the arduous process of recovering, they face the challenges of the aftermath in the form of mental, emotional, and economic struggles.

Below are some of the ways in which the wildfires have affected the housing market.

Home values in fire-ravaged areas will temporarily decrease and rents will increase.

According to an article on Multi-Housing News, home values in the areas destroyed by fire will temporarily drop due to a decrease in demand.

The destruction of the landscape and views, as well as the effects on the quality of life, may cause people to be reluctant to purchase homes in these areas, and some residents may choose to avoid living in these communities because of future risk of fire. 

But there is hope since home values should eventually bounce back as residents rebuild their homes. Communities affected by wildfires generally experience an immediate drop in home values followed by a return to normal levels in about two to three years after being destroyed by fire. 

As families begin the process of recovering from the wildfires, many will move into rentals temporarily. Due to the high demand for rental units to house families that have been displaced, rents will greatly increase.

High insurance costs or lack of insurance will make purchasing homes difficult and drive some residents to other communities.

Insurance companies have been raising rates and declining to sell new policies or renew existing ones for homes in fire-prone areas due to wildfire risks.

In some areas, insurance is not available at all, or if it is, the premiums are excessively high, making it difficult for buyers to purchase homes.

Some buyers may compensate for higher insurance premiums by spending less money on their homes to offset the additional insurance costs. 

These challenges have forced many homeowners to purchase insurance from a surplus carrier or the California FAIR Plan, which is the state’s insurer and is suggested only as a last resort because this coverage may cost three times the amount of a traditional homeowner’s policy, and policies only cover losses from fire and smoke.

According to the California Association of Realtors, if you choose to go this route, you will need to purchase Differences in Conditions (DIC) insurance to cover other issues, such as liability and theft. These insurance rate increases and the inability to find insurance are causing buyers to avoid fire-prone areas and look elsewhere for homes.

Home prices will continue to increase in neighboring communities untouched by the fires.

According to an article on Realtor.com, home prices and rental rates will continue to increase in areas that were untouched by the fires and are located near those communities destroyed by fire.

There is a high demand for untouched homes that are close to areas destroyed by fire as families affected by the fires find other places to live, and previously vacant rental units have been filled by those who lost their homes, leaving fewer available rental properties.

Many residents flock to these nearby areas so they can remain near their workplaces, schools, friends, and other family members rather than relocating far away from home. This causes a lack of supply in these areas, which leads to higher home prices.

The demand and value of homes will decrease in fire-prone areas, while they will increase in areas with less risk of fire.

Residents are more likely to be drawn to areas with a lower risk of fire, which will lead to higher demand and higher prices for homes in these areas.

While areas untouched by the wildfires will see a rise in prices, homes that were spared from the fires, but are located in the midst of communities that were destroyed should see a decrease of 25 to 50 percent, according to Real Estate Appraiser Orell Anderson of Strategic Property Analytics in Laguna Beach.

People won’t want to purchase these homes because they sit in the middle of scorched areas and are often surrounded by debris and rubble where there used to be homes. 

According to the California Association of Realtors, home sales have decreased greatly over the past year in some areas, with a decrease of 24% in Tuolumne County, 18% in Shasta County, 15% in Nevada County, and 10% in Placer County.

Power outages will cause difficulties for residents.

High winds may cause utility poles to fall over and potentially bring power lines down onto dry vegetation, which may start fires. As a precautionary move, PG&E began instituting power outages causing blackouts affecting more than one million residents in portions of 17 counties due to the heightened risk of fire. The majority of these homes had power restored within a couple of days, but others went several days without power. 

Residents have had to adapt to these outages, with many purchasing generators, flashlights, extra batteries, and non-perishable food, but generators are expensive and not an affordable option for everyone. Many schools, universities, and businesses have also had to close to accommodate the outages. 

As residents continue to recover from these wildfires, they will face serious ongoing challenges and the home prices may suffer as well as fewer people look to move into those areas affected by outages.

These fires have caused severe hardship for those who have seen their lives devastated and their neighborhoods destroyed, and many residents have lost their belongings, businesses, and homes. The ramifications from these fires will last for years, but as people work to rebuild their homes and restore their communities, the housing market will eventually return to its normal state.