The Spring Market: What is it?

Ryan Coffey
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We’ve had fairly busy start in the Nanaimo real estate market this year. I’ve always found that it’s during the spring market that us Realtors start to get a good feel for what kind of year it’s going to be. The world seems to be starting to shake off the funk of the recession and in the real estate marke

t as well as other kinds of markets in the world there is a bit more optimism than there has been for a few years. It shows in the statistics, but more importantly it is showing in how Buyers are acting.

Buyers and Sellers alike will frequently ask me if they should be buying or selling during the spring market and perhaps as frequently they will tell me that this is when they plan to do it. I don’t think this is a bad idea at all, but as usual I like to describe the deeper story because I see informing clients as being a central part of my work.

The spring market is, with few exceptions, the busiest time of year for real estate. By the end of June, us Realtors will have done around 70% of our business for the year. There is no calendar date when it starts or ends but I can feel it start every year soon after the weather starts to warm up and the skies get clear. This is the beginning of a sense of optimism. People start to feel better about life and want to try new things to improve their lives. Making a good transaction in real estate is one of the ways you can do that. I’m told by car sales professionals that the same seasonal dynamic is there for them as well, so my current understanding is that this seasonal optimism is something that applies towards the big things in life. It’s not emotional though, it’s also practical. Many people have children that are in school and they want to get things organized during the spring and do their move during the summer while the kids aren’t in school. This way they are ready for the fall.

This is motivation. Anyone who has ever worked in any kind of sales job knows that finding the thing that people want (whatever motivates them) is crucial in getting anything done. This time of year has built in motivation and of course that means that the market gets busier. What this doesn’t explain is why you have been told that it’s during the spring that you should be buying or selling.

I don’t mind being a little controversial if it’s in the name of accuracy or honesty so  I’m just going to speak my mind here. I know it is likely to go against the grain of what people in my profession have been spouting for decades (centuries?) I want to be clear that I am not saying that they don’t know what they’re doing or that they were trying to take advantage of anyone. I think that in our line of work we can very easily flood the minds of our clients with info that may or may not apply to their specific situation and all of that info has to be stated in a way that is understandable. I happen to have this blog which gives me a venue to provide deeper info on certain matters.

Again, let me say that I see no meaningful problem with buying or selling in the spring market, but I don’t think it’s quite true to say that this is the best time to do it either. Like so many things in life, it’s a bit more complicated than what ‘common knowledge’ lets us believe.

The way I see it, seasonal timing is not going to make a huge difference in the sale price of a property… unless the plan of attack that leads up to that purchase or sale fails to take seasonal factors into account.

There are many things going on, some are subtle and some aren’t but this post is about to get harder to read because I have to choose between making it really long and readable or concise to the point of being hard to follow. I’ve chosen the latter so re-reading may be necessary.

If you are selling, your home will look much nicer in the listing photos and if we are lucky we will get nice weather on the day the photos are taken. I have learned the hard way that photos can make a property look a lot better (or worse) than the property really is so whatever time of year or weather we are working in this must be taken into account. A sunny spring day with flowers in bloom and a green lawn is as good as it gets. It’s bright, it’s airy, it’s colourful and so on. This gives a visual advantage over places that were listed when there was still snow on the ground which will generally mean that people are ore likely to book a showing for this property. More people through the door improves chances of an offer, but keep in mind that if the property is not the best priced among comparables it is not the one that will sell. Nothing trumps good pricing.

There are lots more Buyers out there in the spring, but there are also lots more listings too. There’s a lot more action, period. Realtors are a lot more busy in the spring so although we will do all the same things to make sure our clients interests are properly taken care of, we have less time to spend going out for coffee with our clients to share the deeper knowledge with them. For most people, this makes little difference in the end but if you are the sort of client who needs a fair bit of time/guidance and would like to have a series of long conversations before going ahead with anything or not you may prefer working with us in the summer or winter.

I don’t really see better or worse deals in the spring, there is just more action. For a Buyer, this means that there is more to choose from but at the same time there is more competition for all the choices that are out there. The very best half a dozen in a given category will sell faster than at other times of year so you need to be quick to decide on just one lest someone else makes an offer first.  That said, as there is more inventory overall there are more alternative choices which may suit your tastes should the one you liked already be gone.

Buyers should be aware that as we live in an environment that has wet winters, water ingress and pooling is a major concern in property maintenance in these parts. Generally speaking issues with this won’t be as obvious in the spring as it is in the winter. There is a bit less rain and as it is warmer things dry up faster. For example, that backyard may be muddy all winter but lovely green come April and by August be bone dry and brown. That south facing living room might be soothing and warm in the spring, yet sweltering hot in the summer. On the other hand it makes heating the home in the winter a little more affordable.

In the end, there are many in and outs and a good plan is one that is balanced in approach that takes whatever the current situation is into account. People are not made to spec in factories, neither are the properties they buy and neither are the contracts and negotiations that bind them together.


Ryan Coffey