by Michelle L. Anderson, MBA, REALTOR, RE/MAX Metro
Most of the year, Florida enjoys an active real estate market. Unlike states to the north that are not active in cold winter months, Florida benefits from our fabulous winters and our snowbirds. The short answer to this question is that late winter – early summer are the BEST times to put a house on the market. But the only time I advise sellers to NOT list a house is the 2nd half of December through the first week of January. The reality is that real estate activity slows to a crawl during the holidays. However, at any given time there are lots of people who need to move and homes sell all year long. There are a few things to consider when defining what is the “best” time, because is it best to sell the fastest, or at the highest price or do these factors coincide?
I looked at the numbers for Pinellas County for 2014 – October 2018* to see exactly what the sales trend looks like by month. Below is a graph that shows the number of closed sales for each month. Keep in mind that homes that closed likely went on the market two months prior. The average days homes have been on the market in the past year is 26 days and on average, most contracts close in 30 days.
You will see that sales consistently spike in the spring and summer. They also consistently die down in the fall and have a short spike again right at the end of the year. I hypothesize the end of the year spike is due to people making purchases prior to the end of the year in order to qualify for homesteading or investors looking to acquire a tax deduction. Another factor may be people from up north looking to buy in time to enjoy their new home for the winter.
The absorption rate is pretty much what it sounds like. It is the rate that listings are selling and it is calculated by dividing the number of closed sales by the number of active listings. A lower rate means that homes are selling slower (buyer’s market) while a higher rate means that homes are selling quickly (seller’s market). One of the highest rates in recent years was 44% in June 2016 and I can attest to encountering numerous bidding wars for homes at that time.
When the absorption rate is going up, sellers can list their homes at a higher price. However, when the absorption rate is declining, homes shouldn’t be listed at a higher price. In other words, a declining rate indicates that it isn’t a time to “push the market higher,” and that demand is decreasing.
From 2014 – 2018, the absorption rate has been trending upward. The rate also seems to follow a similar pattern with the number of listings, the number of sales and the median sales price. Homes that are on the market over the holidays sit the longest and the absorption rate tends to peak for the year in the spring and summer.
Home appraisers do factor absorption rate into their valuations. This means that when the rate is climbing, they may add additional value to a home. However, when the absorption rate is declining, they are less likely to increase value for market factors.
While the median sales price has been trending upward at a high rate over the last few years, the trend is not a perfectly straight path. Below are some charts that show the median sale price by month. Interestingly, each year the highest median price for the year occurs in the spring/early summer and dips down in the fall with another small spike prior to the year end. This trend mirrors the trends of the number of closed sales, number of listings and days on market.
How much difference in price does it make? An article on CNBC says that on average, homes that sell at peak times sell for $1,500 more. The article also says that the best time to list homes in warm weather markets like Florida is March.
Days on Market / Median Time to Contract
The median number of days homes were on the market prior to going under contract follows a similar trend with the longest average time falling around the holidays and beginning of the year and then declining until reaching a low point in early summer.
Want to know what day of the week is best to put a house on the market? Visit my previous blog: Best Day to List a Home
*Numbers as reported from the Pinellas Realtor Organization. Statistical calcualations and analysis conducted by Michelle L. Anderson
Graziosi, Dean. “What Is Absorption Rate in Real Estate and Why Is It Important?” Huffington Post 12/6/17 0
Olick, Diana. “Homes sell fastest during these two weeks” CNBC. 3/2/2017
This question actually has many layers, because the answer is different when you ask, “How do hurricanes effect the economy in the short-term,” “the long-term.” Or, “How do hurricanes effect the national economy,” or “how do they effect the area that was impacted?”
In the months following a storm, the local economy will initially see huge losses of wealth. But following that, thriving areas will actually see a bump when insurance checks are cut, and rebuilding takes place. Spending also gets shifted around regionally. People evacuate and spend money elsewhere. Hardware store, gas stations, grocery stores and hotels see increased business while local business are shuttered. The national economy sees a small dip in GDP.
LONG-TERM – NATIONAL ECONOMY
According to an article in Florida Realtor “On net, storms tend to subtract from gross domestic product in the early months and add to it in later months – leaving the economy, on balance, with few overall effects after a year.”
LONG-TERM – LOCAL/REGIONAL ECONOMY
“Hurricanes impose huge losses of wealth and initially slow regional economies, but over time they can be a tonic that creates more prosperous communities,” According to Florida Realtor.
What the data shows here is that thriving communities rebuild, and often in a way that enhances the area and results in a better community. New buildings improve the area and are often built to better withstand acts of nature. “Some areas see a bump in growth from the rebuilding,” according to an article in the New York Times.
However, in poorer areas, most damage falls on the uninsured and rebuilding doesn’t take place. These areas may never fully recover.
Each storm and area has its’ own nuances. Was the damage mainly for flooding or wind? What percentage of the effected had insurance? How much damage occurred to the local industry, such as were oil refineries impacted? My short answer to a complex question is that in most cases, areas hit by hurricanes come out stronger in the long-run and so does our national economy.
For more information on this topic, read my Blog Post, “The Florida Keys 1 Year After Hurricane Irma.”
“Hurricanes make us poorer but don’t slow the economy” Florida Realtor, 9/26/18.
“Hurricane to Cost Tens of Billions, but a Quick Recovery Is Expected,” New York Times, 8/28/17.
The Florida Keys were my home for 10 years. Specifically, I lived on Cudjoe Key at mile marker 23 which means it is right above Key West with the southernmost point being mile marker zero. Although I had been in St. Pete for several years when hurricane Irma hit in 2017, I watched the news as the damage unfolded with a sick feeling in my stomach. Despite that I had sold my former home there and closed my business, it all still felt like it was hitting home.
Key West was left virtually physically unaffected. Irma’s eye hit right over my old house in Cudjoe Key and spared the area to the west. The Lower Keys and Marathon were the most severely impacted, but damage was done all the way up to Key Largo.
“Almost 5,000 properties were damaged or heavily destroyed by Hurricane Irma when it made landfall at Cudjoe Key on Sept. 10, 2017. Rebuilding those lost homes has been extremely slow. According to county data, only 228 permits for demolition of properties destroyed or badly damaged have been submitted since the storm. Only 27 permits have been filed to rebuild single family homes and just three have been submitted for new mobile homes.”*
Immediately after hurricane Irma, the landscape of the Keys was drastically diminished with many downed trees and trees and shrubs stripped of leaves. I spoke to my good friend Loren Rea who lives in Sugarloaf Key (MM 16) and asked for her perspective on life in the Keys post-Irma. “It is amazing to see how much things have grown back,” said Rea. The tropical climate of the Keys has allowed for fast regrowth. This includes the mangroves which were affected but are also growing back.
In the Lower Keys and Key West, things look pretty normal. But in Big Pine Key, clean-up work is still in progress. Now a year later, groups still go out on organized weekend cleanups to remove debris from canals and mangroves. Keys residents have self-coordinated to do some of the clean-up themselves.
Some of the islands were shifted by Irma. Picnic Island, a long-time popular hangout spot for boaters, is now 3 separate islands according to Rea. Local fishing guides are out putting anglers on fish just as they were before Irma.
The chart below of closed sales by month shows that most months after hurricane Irma have had a significantly lower number of closed sales than the preceding year. Prices, however, have continued to rise with the median price up 4.3%. The supply of inventory in the Keys is much higher than the rest of the country with 9.2 months compared to the average of 2.9 in most of Tampa Bay. Median time to sale in the Keys is 141 days compared to 65 in Pinellas County.
The labor force is now 11% smaller than it was before Irma. * Rea said that the effects of a decreased population and workforce are felt in daily life. Lack of staff in doctors’ offices, stores and restaurants is affecting service. The Keys population swells in winter-months with snowbirds and vacationers. But the year-round residents are those working in the restaurants, hotels and other tourist attractions. Post-Irma the Keys had a housing shortage. Many displaced due to damaged properties found temporary harbor in hotels but were pushed out once tourist season rolled around. Some residents just couldn’t withstand the loss of income felt around the hurricane. And some landlords capitalized on the housing shortage, and raised rents adding to the financial blow. The suicide rate in the Keys doubled post-Irma,** and every resident seems to have known a handful of people lost to it.
Every hurricane is unique just as the Keys are a unique place.
*Hudson, Tom: Health News Florida, “Rebuilding The Florida Keys One Year After Irma,” 9/7/18
**Florida Keys Cope With Suicide Spike After Hurricane Irma, http://health.wusf.usf.edu/post/florida-keys-cope-suicide-spike-after-hurricane-Irma