Show of hands: how often have you heard the anecdote that homes only sell in the Summer and that real estate is seasonal? Yeah – me too. I once tried to rent a uHaul in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana in March and the operator told me that he shuts down his business until the late Spring because “no one moves in the winter”.
Well, the reality is that may be true for that area but it’s not true for Charlotte – not even close. The idea that there’s a season when real estate sells comes from areas where weather would make moving a lot more difficult than necessary (i.e. the North Carolina mountains, the upper midwest, and parts of the northeast). However, Charlotte rarely gets snow so weather isn’t an issue.
Then there’s the notion that homes only sell in the Summer because that’s when the kids are out of school. As you’ll see, that’s not necessarily the case.
In a three year survey of residential real estate in the Charlotte area (from 2014-2016) revealed that the best month to list your home for sale is: February.
For this, I compared the the level of available residential inventory to the number units that receive a contract and the units that are selling. Over the last 3 years, April was the month that most homes received a contract, followed by March and May closely behind. Therefore, the best month to have your home listed for sale would be sometime in late February to capture Buyers starting their home search in March.
Other Popular Months Include (in order):
Not a Typo – December is a Hot Month For Real Estate
All too often, homeowner take their homes off the market around October and November; assuming the housing market has passed and not wanting to be pestered during the holidays. However Charlotte is one of the housing markets that has a steady flow of corporate relocation buyers (and sellers), many of which have to be on site by Q1 of the new year. Lower Inventory plus very motivated buyers equals December. In fact, more homes close in December than September, October, November, January and February.
What are the worst times?
Well, truth is that there aren’t really bad times to list homes for sale but there are times that are more challenging than others. Take July as an example. Housing inventories generally swell starting in May, continuing to expand in June and reach their peak in July. At the same time historically, July and August are two of the slower months (August then July) for contracts in Mecklenburg County as a result of summer vacations.
The expense of gift giving and the holidays are also thought to be the reason why January is also a slow month for real estate activity.
What about outside of Charlotte / Mecklenburg County?
When you include all of the CarolinaMLS area (which would include the counties that surround Mecklenburg and counties around Asheville), March and April are tied for the best months for contracts, followed behind April and May. June and December tied for the months with the highest percentage of sales relative to the level of inventory at 24%, then May, June, July, August, and September all tied from there. The second home market in the North Carolina mountains region does impact this figure quite a bit.
So What’s the Take Away?
If you’re thinking of listing your home for sale, allow yourself enough time to paint, make repairs, and improvements if needed so that it can hit the market in February for a March or April contract and closing. If you happen to list your home later in the year, don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t sell in a week due to the additional inventory that’s also on the market. Taking the house of the market at the end of Summer is silly as sales will once again peak in December.