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Guess what? Spring homebuying season now starts in January

Homebuyers get a head start on the new home search

For all the talk about spring homebuying season being the prime time for the real estate market, it turns out that homebuying season starts when it’s much colder outside.

According to Realtor.com, homebuyers have started their home search earlier and earlier over the last several years.

As Realtor.com notes, historically, April was considered to be the start of homebuying season.

But in many larger markets, January is actually the start of prime homebuying season.

“As shoppers modify their strategies for navigating a housing market that has become more competitive due to rising prices and low inventory, the search for a home is beginning earlier and earlier,” said Realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu. “With housing inventory across the U.S. expected to reach record lows in 2020, we expect to see this trend continue into the new year.”

ATTOM Data Solutions said that homebuyers willing to close on a home the day after Christmas see the biggest discounts below full market value, with an average discount of 0.3% over the expected sales price.

And beyond that, the next best days to buy are New Year’s Eve (December 31) and December 4, both of which offer discounts of 0.1%.

And that data matches up with Realtor.com’s report, which states that views on the company’s home search site have been peaking in the first two months of the year, rather than later in the year.

Realtor.com said that January 2019 was just 1% behind February for highest number of views per listing. Beyond that, in 20% of large markets, January saw the highest listing views in 2019.

That’s a big shift from just a few years ago. In 2015, the peak month for average views per listing on Realtor.com was April, and January lagged by 16%.

Now, metros such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, San Jose, California and Denver saw their busiest month in January.

And with a lack of homes on the market, competition will likely be fierce as the calendar turns to January. And well beyond that as well.

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