Those house-hunting now might be more motivated

THE REAL ESTATE WONK

December 07, 2007|By JAMIE SMITH HOPKINS

Housing slumps aside, home buying is usually brisk in the spring and early fall, slowish in the summer and really slow this time of year, as buyers set aside visions of settlement tables for sugar plums. So does it make sense to try to time the market if you've got something to sell? Inquiring minds, and a reader who needs to unload a Locust Point house in the next six months, want to know. I turned to Dave Wright with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Annapolis, a real estate agent since 1976.

His opinion: If you need to sell now -- or know you'll need to in the foreseeable future -- then put it on the market now. "It's the same as the stock market," he said. "You can't time it."

Though sellers often want to wait if Christmas is approaching, he said, "people truly looking this time of year -- November, December -- are people who have a need to buy. So you're generally dealing with a lot less curiosity seekers and tire-kickers."

Another consideration: The average home that sold in the Baltimore metropolitan area in October was on the market 103 days, up from 70 a year ago, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. (In 21230, the ZIP code that includes Locust Point, it was 137 days -- 4 1/2 months.) Should you have a deadline to sell, you're more likely to run into trouble the longer you wait to get your house on the market.

Pat Hiban of Keller Williams Select Realtors in Ellicott City agrees with Wright, with one exception: Once you hit the middle of December, he thinks you might as well wait until January to list your home.

If November and the beginning of December can be slow, those last few weeks of the year are glacial, he said.

Find Jamie's blog at baltimore sun.com/realestatewonk.

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