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The spring market is coming. Thinking of getting in? How to decide if you’re ready.

Although parts of Massachusetts are still blanketed in snow, the calendar says spring officially kicks off this week. Along with (hopefully) better weather, that also means the spring real estate market will start showing signs of life.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of selling or buying a home, you might be wondering if now is your time to take the plunge.

Entering the market is a big decision, one that we know is not taken lightly. Not only are you dealing with a huge transition from one living space to another, the process of selling or buying a property is a pretty big commitment. You’re looking at keeping your house tidy for showings and open houses (as a seller) or giving up some nights and weekends to tour homes and put together offers (if you’re the buyer).

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding whether this is the spring you’ll make your move:

What’s your local market look like?

We always recommend contacting a local real estate agent in your community or the community you’d like to move to in order to get a full picture of what’s selling and what’s not at this moment in time.

When buyers or sellers approach us, we get information about the size, style and design of their house or desired house and then run a report using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to see what comparable homes are selling for and how fast they are going under contract.

For a deeper dive on this, please check out our post on an important market factor known as the “absorption rate.”

What’s going on in your life right now? CAN you make a move?

Even if the market where you live or want to live is going gangbusters, it still may not be YOUR time.

Shopping for a house or offering your home for sale is a big deal. Even if your real estate agent (and we definitely strive for this) makes the process as smooth as possible, there’s still a lot for you to do.

If you’re buying, you’ll be spending a lot of time shopping around, attending open houses and showings. You’ll potentially be working with a mortgage company to get approved for a loan, which requires pulling together a lot of information about your personal financial history. You may also be rushing around to put together offers with your agent if a home you want is also wanted by a bunch of other buyers.

If you’re selling, you’re potentially looking at making repairs or cleaning out your house to get it ready for sale. You’ll need to be ready to get out of your house quickly when a potential buyer wants a showing, or be prepared to be away all morning for an open house. If you’re moving to a new property, you may also have all the work of being a buyer at the same time.

Again, at Lyric Properties, we totally get this and try to assume as much of the load as possible, but there are some thing that only you can do. If you know that your personal circumstances will make all of this impossible or too much of a burden, you may want to consider waiting until later in the year to make a move and enter the market.

Are there repairs you want to make before you sell?

This is a decision you can make with your real estate agent once they give you their opinion on what price you might want to list your house for. It could be that your home DOES need repairs, but you’d rather not put any more work into your property and perhaps you’re willing to sell for a little less to compensate for that. Maybe that means that you’re ready to plant a For Sale sign on the first day of spring.

However, if you feel you might be able to list for more, but you need to first repair your fence/upgrade your bathroom/put in newer kitchen appliances, how much time do you need to get that done? If you want to take advantage of the spring market, you probably want to start making those changes NOW.

For more information on how much value you might be able to get from making certain repairs in your home, check out this post.

Finally, does it really matter what the calendar says? What are YOUR goals?

There’s no doubt that the market dips and rises throughout the year. But we’ve sold houses in every season, from the middle of winter to the height of summer. The most important thing we’ve seen for buyers and sellers is entering the market is taking the plunge when it’s PERSONALLY RIGHT for them.

If you’re still not sure, we’re more than happy to talk it through with you and even help you make a list of pros and cons, if that’s helpful. If you run into an agent who is pressuring you to sell RIGHT NOW, question it. (And then call us. Ha ha.)

For an analysis of what your home might be worth in the current market, please contact us online or call us at 978-494-4450. We’ll be ready to go when YOU are.

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The one thing that everyone wants to know about the real estate market

We talk about real estate with lots of people every day. Inevitably, unless we’re talking about a specific property, the conversation usually boils down to one simple question: “How’s the real estate market these days?”

Agents at many real estate brokerages are trained to give a canned response to this question. Namely, something like, “It’s always a great time to buy or sell!” That’s trite, but not very helpful. As real estate professionals, we aim to dig a little deeper.

There are several ways to look at market performance. In many cases we use a metric called the “absorption rate” to advise our clients on market trends.

Simply put, the absorption rate looks at how quickly the inventory of properties for sale in a given area is being consumed (or “absorbed”) by buyers. This statistic is generally expressed as a number, representing the number of months it likely would take for all the properties for-sale right now in a given market to be bought by buyers (theoretically, on average, and assuming that recent sales trends were to continue). An absorption rate of six (ie. it would take six months for the current inventory of homes for sale to be consumed, on average, given recent market data) is generally considered to be a “balanced” real estate market. Absorption rates below six are generally considered to be favorable to sellers, since lower rates mean properties are selling relatively faster than in a balanced market. Absorption rates over six are generally considered to be favorable to buyers, since relatively slower sales mean more available inventory to shop.

Here’s an example. According to MLS-PIN, during 2018 the absorption rate for single-family homes in Haverhill, MA was 1.08. That figure tells us that (on average) there were enough houses on the market at any given time to satisfy the interests of available buyers for a little more than a month (ie. 1.08 months). In 2017, the absorption rate was 1.53. So, generally speaking, the real estate market for single-family homes in Haverhill became slightly more favorable to sellers from 2017 to 2018.

Now, in the real world, it gets a little more complicated. Yearly municipal averages are informative, but if you’re buying or selling a home, you might want to know more detailed information. For example, maybe you’re looking for property in a specific neighborhood, or price range. Maybe you want to know more more about how market performance changes from season to season, or month-to-month. And, since statistics like the absorption rate are just theoretical averages, maybe you want to know how what market trends might mean for your specific property.

As real estate professionals, we have access to all of this information and more, so that we can provide our clients with timely and informative data specifically tailored to their individual needs.

If you’re interested in knowing more about how the real estate market is performing in your area, please sign up to receive market updates from us.