Easter weekend marks the changing of the guard in our spring real estate market, as it divides the six-month season in half.
Our spring market typically runs from January to the end of June, and there is a wide misconception that it slows down in March/April.
I really don’t think it does, nor do I expect it to…
Forget everything you were taught in school about “Seasons.”
Forget March 1st, June 21st, and all the rest.
In real estate, the “spring market” spans SIX full months and begins as soon as we turn the calendar page on one year to the next.
Sure, the first ‘half’ of the spring market is filled with snow and cold, and the second ‘half’ brings about lush front lawns and blooming tulips, but in real estate, it’s basically all “spring” to us.
The month of March and into early April has always been an odd time in real estate.
Consider that you have two major disruptions to an otherwise fluid market:
1) Spring Break
2) Easter Weekend
With the amount of different school boards in existence, Spring Break has come to span almost three weeks in March as schools take their breaks at varying dates and for various lengths of time.
Then when all the Spring Breaks are over and done with, we move into Easter.
I’ve heard real estate agents profess that the market explodes on the Tuesday after Easter just as it does on the Tuesday after Labor Day. I’m not entirely sure if I agree.
Perhaps “the market” is just too broad a term. Maybe we should break it down into condominiums and freehold, ie. houses.
Recall a story I told a couple of years ago about two of my clients who got an incredible deal on a Leaside house during Spring Break. You can read that story here.
It seemed to be that most of the local Realtors were on vacation with their families, and when this house came onto the market, there weren’t nearly the amount of buyers or agents that there might have been a week later.
My clients ended up paying far below market value simply because they were in the proverbial right time at the right place.
Since then, I’ve always questioned whether or not March/April is a good time to list a property for sale.
As I said before, it depends on the property type (condo/house) and area (family-neighbourhood/downtown).
I’m of the mindset that you simply cannot make a blanket statement like, “The market slows down through Spring Break and Easter.”
Sure, maybe the residential neighbourhoods are empty during Spring Break because parents take their kids away on vacation, but does the downtown core change at all?
No. It just keeps on moving.
Do you think a 31-year-old financial planner living at King/Yonge has any idea when public schools go on vacation?
Do you think he’ll put his housing search on hold when the private schools break for two weeks so the students can travel to Cannes on a field trip?
No. Spring Break has no effect on the condo market.
So how much of an effect does Spring Break have on the housing market? I have to believe that it does have an effect, and when it comes to your largest asset and potentially a million-dollar-decision, any effect is too much to risk.
If I were listing a house for sale in a family neighbourhood, I would basically write off the second half of March entirely.
That brings us to Easter, which throws us for yet another loop.
But unlike Spring Break, where the plan is to get far, far away from Toronto, many people use Easter weekend as a time to come together with family at home.
An agent in my office said the other day, “What do people have to do on Easter weekend? They have a full four days off! They’re out, they’re active, they do things; they go for walks, and low and behold, they stumble into open houses! They use their down time to spend 3-4 hours looking at houses with their agent – something they couldn’t find time for in the past month!”
And with the incredible weather we’ve been having, I’d hazard a guess that there will be a lot of stroller-pushing, coffee-drinking, LuLu-Lemon-wearing people stumbling into open houses for both condos and residential houses over Easter weekend.
And if the market truly does explode the week after Easter, then wouldn’t it make more sense to get the jump on the competition?
There’s a serious chicken-and-egg phenomenon in our market: some buyers don’t start looking until they know there’s going to be ample supply, and some sellers hold off until they think buyers are looking. I know I’ve said this before in other blog posts, but it’s worth pointing out again, and again.
The second half of the spring market will begin on April 6th, and I expect it to be more of the same.
So what then should we expect in the summer months of July and August, since we had the hottest summer real estate market on record in 2009, and we’ll be coming out of a very hot spring market as well?