Slow Start to Spring
Sellers often ask when the best time is to list a property for sale, and our pre-pandemic answer was always Valentine’s Day. It seemed that no matter the year or market, when a seller put a well-prepared house on the market early — but not too early — the sale price exceeded our expectation. It also left some room for our sellers to get the work done prior to listing even if it took longer than expected, because March is historically a great month to list, too. Typically, as spring warmed and we emerged from winter, so many other houses list that a balance would tip in favor of buyers. By June, buyers typically had their pick of listings, and houses lingered for the right buyer. Of course, this wasn’t a universal phenomenon because we know every property and market is a bit different. However, it described the generality that you can see in inventory graphs like this one.
As we’ve described, the pandemic uprooted our market balance and our generalities. We have been in essentially the month of February for 18 months. Buyers are desperate for new inventory and lingering listings are few. The market is exceptionally hot – many buyers remain actively engaged: from Arlington to Acton houses are getting dozens of offers.
Buyers asked us this weekend if we foresee a change. The honest answer is: not any time soon. Even with the threat of rising interest rates, there are so many buyers up through the $1-$2M market across the area, it’s hard to imagine enough inventory coming online to satisfy demand. We still see lines and crowds at open houses, and with rents increasing 20% year over year, there’s no end in sight.
Here are the numbers for Feb 15 each of the past five years so you can see from buyers’ perspectives. And remember, that the listing price of existing inventory isn’t even accounted for here, but it’s way up! Here you can compare Acton, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland, and Weston.
Reducing Differences Between Towns
Another way to look at it (and another major impact of the limited inventory) is that buyers have widened their geographic search. Especially for buyers who really have to buy, compromising on commute times, town, schools, etc. is inevitable. So, you see how in years past the variance between towns was much broader. That is one effect of low inventory: it erodes the price differential between communities.