Especially this time of year—and even more especially when St. Cloud's weather turns grisly—common sense would seem to lead any homeowner planning to sell their St. Cloud home this year to hold off for the moment…at least until Punxutawney Phil’s forecast starts to come true (the venerable groundhog said that winter 2016 will be a short one). A quick peek at St. Cloud listings in most Februarys usually confirms the notion that most people decide to wait. As a rule, the ranks of the St. Cloud listings in February are a good deal thinner than will be the case a few months later.
Delaying isn’t necessarily the most convenient answer for every homeowner—which gives rise to questioning whether that particular piece of common sense is always as sensible as it seems. At least one writer thinks not.
Just over a year ago, Kenneth Harney authored an account describing some contrary evidence. Writing in The Washington Post, he reported on national sales results “that suggest it’s not necessarily the case” that spring or early summer are the most favorable times to launch listings. In fact, a winter launch (this year, from December 22 through March 20) can prove “surprisingly advantageous.”
The most compelling evidence for that claim comes from an online brokerage firm whose two-year study of asking and selling prices led it to conclude that listings launched in December through March actually yielded the best chance of resulting in above-asking price sales: 17%! The evidence was similar for those hoping to sell quickly. Listings debuting in February turned out to be champs: an average 66% of February listings sold within 90 days, making it “historically the best month to list.”
We might be led to believe that these are reasons enough to hurry up and rush to enter the St. Cloud listings immediately. Of course not all by itself—but for properties already in showable condition, it might be a reason to consider it. Logically, leaner St. Cloud listings mean less competition. Since it’s common for those whose homes did not move last summer to withdraw them until the spring, homeowners who list before then stand to get a jump on the market. And yes, since many corporations tend to transfer employees and hire new ones early in the year, some of those newcomers will have found their new St. Cloud homes before the spring real estate rush begins.
Harney’s article does ultimately undermine the notion that correctly choosing a good listing month automatically guarantees a quick sale at a higher-than-asking price. The giveaway comes from one quoted source who mentions that owners of properties that hadn’t attracted serious offers during the warmer months “get more realistic at this time of year.” This therefore makes winter also a good time for “smart shoppers.” My experience with my own clients (all of whom are definitely smart shoppers) suggests they seldom are itching to make higher-than-asking offers—certainly not right off the bat. The inescapable truth is that, like most other factors, the results garnered by any St. Cloud listing depend on a whole galaxy of factors in addition to the season.
If your own plans include listing or house hunting any time this year, I hope you’ll give me a call. I’ll be delighted to provide you with my totally confidential, no-obligation consultation, including an up-to-the-moment St. Cloud market situation report.