After a fantastic run-up, the increase in home prices has started to slow. According to the S&P Case-Shiller home price index, prices rose most months in the past two years by 20% year over year. That has started to taper off in many cities. When people should consider buying a home at a relatively low price depends on several factors, including location, mortgage rates and home supply. However, one other factor has become extremely important. That is the day of the year one buys a home.
The home price run-up benefited from mortgage rates that dropped to about 3% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage last year. The figure sits above 6% now, which puts many homes outside buyer budgets. American mobility due to the “work from home” trend allowed people to move to cities they favored for the cost and quality of living. Many of these cities witnessed influxes so large their home prices jumped.
As people shop for homes, prices vary widely by city. In San Jose, the median value of a home for sale has risen above $1 million. In Detroit, the figure is well below $200,000, based on the same measurement. The ability to buy a home in any metropolitan area is related to the median income of a family compared to the median price of the home.
Another factor has been home supply. This is often measured by home many days, on average, homes are on the market in a given metro. The number collapsed below 20 days at the peak of the national home price surge. People who sold homes often had several bidders and sold homes above their asking prices.
Seasonality has always been a factor in home prices. This tends to be a smaller consideration in parts of the country where it is warm all year. Because temperatures there change very little, issues of cold, snow and other harsh winter weather often are not a problem. However, in the northern tier of states, seasonality can be a significant factor.
In the recent October Is the Time to Buy for Homebuyers report by real estate research firm ATTOM, a proprietary median automated valuation model (AVM) was used to set a price for each year and then compare the actual median sales price for homes in the same period. The analysis looked at home sales from 2013 to 2021 on a national level but not by metro areas. Every month had a median home sale price above AVM. However, the best months to sell a home at a large premium were the warm months: April, May, June and July.
To dig deeper, ATTOM looked at the best and worst days of the year to be a buyer or a seller. The worst day to sell a home was November 28, when the national median sale price was only 1.1.% over AVM. Next among all days was January 8, with a premium of only 1.3%.
One of the lessons from the study is it is good to be a buyer in the winter.
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