Well that stunk. January is in the books and it seemed really slow. It takes a couple days for agents to get all their negotiated contracts into the MLS, so we still don’t know just how much slower it was than recent years. Hopefully we can get that data up by the end of the week.
In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of the listings for the first month of the year. Overall, the number of listings was down 24% from last year. Looking back even further, the number of January listings for this year and the past few has been 702 (2011), 922 (2010), 845 (2009), 1099 (2008), 1129 (2007), and 984 (2006). Most individual towns showed a decrease in listings, but there were a few bright spots. My first reaction was that the more rural towns were more active than the denser urban towns, but I’m not sure that holds up under close scrutiny.
We actually don’t believe that the reduced activity points to the slowest year ever. There’s been a lot of snow this year. Well more than average, and it has consumed much more of people’s time and energy than during a usual January. We think that all the white stuff is postponing the spring market … but it will get here eventually. If I were a seller, I wouldn’t be in a rush to get my place on the market.
Buyers also seem to be taking their time because of the weather. It will be interesting to see what the contracts data tells us, but our anecdotal experience is that buyers are not in a rush. Some are concerned about doing a home inspection with all of this snow on the ground, while others just aren’t seeing any new listings that they like.
We placed a quick call to one of our favorite home inspectors to get their take on the weather. They said that the snow isn’t a big problem. Although it may interfere with some portions of an inspection (looking at the outside of a roof), it actually makes it easier to do other things (look for roof leaks in the attic). They felt it was essentially a wash and that buyers should still feel comfortable that the home inspection would give them a good sense of the overall condition of the home.
Well, off to shovel some more…