Real estate cycles are less predictable than in the past. With minute-by-minute alerts on breaking news, homebuyers' moods are now heavily influenced by reporting on key economic indicators, stock market swings and national home sale trends.
“Buyers don't always drill down to see how the national numbers affect their local market. But they're still really affected by them,” said Mark Nash, a real estate expert and author of “1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home.”
Besides economic reports, there are seasonal influences on buyers that can have a significant impact on home sales, according to Nash.
“In January and February, a lot of people … are stressed out after dysfunctional family events. They're also unhappy about overspending during the holidays. Because of that, they're not feeling rich — an important factor to consider when you're pricing a home,” he said.
Do you plan to put your property on the market early in the first quarter of 2014? If so, Nash urges you to exercise extra care to find an agent who's both plugged into buyers' moods and knowledgeable about your neighborhood.
Nash, who entered the real estate field in 1996, said it's customary for many real estate agents to schedule vacations in the first couple of months of the year. But he said a wintertime home seller needs an agent who's actively involved in the business during the first quarter.
“You don't want someone who tunes out in winter because they think it's a sleepy time for sales,” Nash said.
As a wintertime home seller, you're entitled to know in advance if an agent you're considering plans to leave town for vacation while your house is up for sale.
“Don't pick a skier who's away a lot during the winter,” said Joan McLellan Tayler, a long-time realty company owner.
Finding the ideal listing agent for a winter home sale can be trickier than many sellers imagine. Here are a few pointers:
• Interview more than one agent before making your selection.
Friends and family members are one reliable source for referrals. But Tayler contends your neighbors could be a still better one.
“One way to identify agents who are really active in your community is to search for ‘For Sale' signs there, noticing which agents have the most signs. That's a smart way to come up with a short list of candidates who know the best pricing strategy for the area,” Tayler said.