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.


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