The other day, I heard a commercial on the radio that I found particularly unnerving. The spokesperson said that now is a great time to sell your home. He talked about how the record high prices we’ve been seeing in the Austin area may not be here forever, and that the uncertainty of a continued upward trajectory is reason enough to list your home for sale now. Everything that he said isn’t completely wrong, but what really bothered me was that I was listening to this recommendation in early December. One thing I know for sure is that the holiday season is historically the worst time to sell your Austin area home.
Just think about it, does it really make sense to sell your home in December? You’re worried about what to buy your Aunt Jan, what to wear to the office holiday party and how the hell you’re going to be able to handle four whole days with the in-laws. Most people aren’t thinking about buying a new home in the midst of all this craziness. Like most markets, a housing market with less buyers results in lower prices.
In order to fully understand this phenomenon you need to know a little about the real estate sale timeline and how it is statistically reported. First of all, we use the term days on market (DOM) to discuss the amount of time between the day a home is first listed for sale on the MLS and the day the home goes under contract. After a home goes under contract, there’s usually about 30 days before that home officially sells. That’s because lenders usually need about a month to get the funding squared away. Now, that number could be less if you are dealing with a cash sale or more if the buyer and seller agree to a farther out closing date, but 30 days is a good estimate. Now, when we are looking at the median sales price for a given month, we must look back the total amount of time ( days on market + 30 days) in order to determine the best or worst month to list your home for sale.
If you look at the median sales price per month for homes in the City of Austin over the past ten years, the January median sales price is almost always the lowest monthly median sales price for the year. In 2015, we saw the lowest median sales price in February, and the February median sales price was the 11th lowest in every other year. Now, if we look at the ADOM during January, we see it was about 30 days for January sales from 2017- 2020. Thus, homes that first hit the market in late November or December sold for the lowest amount.
If you think you absolutely have to list your home for sale in December, you may be wondering how much money you would be missing out on by not waiting to list your property. Assuming it still takes 60 days from the day you list to the day the home actually sells, you could be missing out on 20-65k. In January of this year, the median sales price for single family homes in the City of Austin was $471,000. Fast forward two months, and that figure went up to $536,000. You may want to really think about your carrying costs, and if there’s a better way for you to accomplish your goals that allows for postponing your home sale just a little.
The bottom line is that December has historically been the worst time to list your home for sale. Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio, and feel free to contact me anytime with your real estate questions.
Are you looking for some fun and festive holiday activities to enjoy this year? We've got you covered! From ice skating to light shows, our list has something for everyone to enjoy. Happy Holidays!
Trail of Lights: If there’s one event that makes you think of Christmas in the ATX, it’s the Trail of Lights. This year it’s drive through only due to covid restrictions, but you can still experience the glory of over two million lights from the comfort of your car. Drive through the glowing tunnels and sing along to classic holiday hits. Don’t miss out on the 57th annual Trail of Lights, it’s an amazing family event that will leave everyone in awe. PS. the Zilker Tree is open for pedestrians, so you can still spin to your heart's content!
Rooftop Rink at Whole Foods: Bundle up and hit the ice on top of the world! This is perfect for a family outing, girls night out, or even a sweethearts date night out on the town. This event takes place on the rooftop of the WholeFoods flagship store. Beverages and treats are also available to make the experience that much more great!
Santa’s Ranch: Looking for a little road trip to experience some holiday cheer? Head down to New Braunfels and check out Santa’s Ranch. Here you can sip and snack on some homemade holiday treats while you drive through the gorgeous roads and experience a Christmas sight like no other. This light exhibit stretches over a mile long! Don’t forget to grab some beautiful souvenirs to take home before you leave.
Ballet Austin’s: The Nutcracker: We all know the tale of The Nutcracker and the beautiful melody of “the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies” and this year, you can experience all of the magic LIVE at Ballet Austin! You absolutely have to see these sets and costumes in person. You are sure to be in for a breathtaking performance.
North Pole Flyer: Have you ever wished you could hop aboard the Polar Express? Well, this rail may not be headed to the North Pole, but you can let your imagination wander as you enjoy this 2 hour ride with snacks, holiday drinks, and visits from special guests like Santa and Mrs. Claus. There will be Christmas carols as well as story time and lots of laughs. If you’re looking for an exciting holiday event for a little one in your life, this is it.
Ice Skating at Dreamland: Sip on some hot cocoa and enjoy the holiday fun with all of your loved ones while ice skating at Dreamland. There is also mini-golf and pickle ball if you aren’t the best ice skater, but who cares? Get up and make a fool of yourself and let your inner child come out to play.
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar: From December 17th-19th, you can experience live music, local art, shopping from local businesses, and a bar! Honestly, What more could you ask for? This is a guaranteed great holiday experience for the entire family, or a date night out.
Mozart’s Light Show: The annual light show at Mozart’s coffee roasters is an event not to be missed. Where else can watch a legendary Christmas light display reflecting off Lake Austin? Mozart’s Light Show also has a wide variety of snacks and beverages available to enjoy while you view the spectacle. This year, they’re offering a hybrid format where you can either reserve a table for a small fee or get a complimentary ticket for the standing section. Unfortunately, tables for the show dates before x-mas are sold out, but there are tables available between Christmas and New Years. Additionally, there are plenty of tickets left for the standing section.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.