Real Estate's Spring Thaw

My spring update on Huffington Post.

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In Washington DC, there really is no such thing as a spring thaw. The entire winter was pretty mild which I am happy about, but then we got a cold blast the last couple weeks. Weather can wreak some havoc on a real estate market, because everyone’s question is always “When does the spring market get into full swing?”

This should be a pretty straight forward question to answer, but in DC, the real estate market is anything but straight forward. I always feel like there are 3 answers to the question.

1) January 2nd: Some people will want to buy or sell as soon as the holidays are over because they’ve been chomping at the bit to do so since November. And whoever they have been talking to about it has discouraged them from doing so. Never fails that someone will snag a house on December 27 that’s been listed for a month with no activity, then on Jan 2, there are half a dozen buyers who say “Oh, we saw that house but we got busy with the holidays and thought there would be more on the market...” and whatever else the reason.

2) After the Superbowl: Yes, Sundays are for football until they aren’t anymore. Then they are for open houses!

3) When the weather breaks.

Well here we are. It’s a blustery 40 degrees as we are now at Day 1 of Spring. My birthday was last week and mom always likes to say I was born on a sunny spring day. Hmmph. I’ve never seen any of those, but, March can be like that. It can be 65 and sunny or it can be 25 and snowing.

My clients who needed to get the party bus on the road have been pounding the pavement since New Year’s. I’m currently in about a week three day stretch of quiet time, which is nice in a way to have a little breather before it picks up again. But, for the buyers, I always think it’s better to be out when the weather is unpredictable, cold, rainy, snowy. Why? Because relocations, family changes, life – these things continue to happen in property owner’s lives regardless of what’s happening outside their window. It’s sometimes easier for buyers when the weather is bad to get a house.

But here comes the sun. Bring DC a perfect day with low humidity and hardly a cloud in the sky and everyone is out there again performing the Sunday dance. Gym, brunch, then pounding the open house circuit to see what the DC real estate market has to offer. The truth is that 50% of those people at open houses aren’t even “in the market,” but the sheer volume of bodies that turnout creates a perception as reality situation and things heat up really fast.

The Fed pushed rates up ¼ point last week though our local DC based lenders reported little change in mortgage rates thus far. The Fed concluded the meeting with a note that subsequent rate increases at future meetings will be very measured, dependent on many economic indicators but will likely stay low in the near term.