Welcome to the slowest day of the year for home buying.
My trusty spreadsheet looked at some curious housing search statistics from property tracker Attom, which counted closed transactions and median price patterns by day of the year between 2013 and 2022. Yes, we’re talking daily data on fences – less on public holidays. New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day and Christmas.
This data shows us that December 26 is the slowest sales day of the year.
Boxing Day averaged 4,719 closings over 10 years, 62% lower than the average sales day in California with 12,270 closings over those 10 years. Obviously, sales are slow this time of year because who would want to score big deals amidst the challenges and joy of the holidays.
Oddly enough, those who closed deals that day paid an average price of $390,000, or 19% less than the California standard of $480,000 over 10 years. This price was on average $9,200 above the assessed value, a premium 56% lower than the typical markup of $20,700.
So it seems that post-Christmas bargains are also part of California housing.
Conversely, September 30 is the busiest day in a typical year. On that day, there are an average of 24,064 sales, which is 96% above average. The price comes to $468,000, just 2 percent below average, but with a premium of $25,900, or 25 percent above the statewide standard.
Consider that today marks the end of the third trimester. This creates pressure to close, particularly from lenders, in order to get the most business on the quarterly books. June 30, the end of the second quarter, is the second day in terms of sales volume.
Please note how closings increase as the month progresses. The first 10 days accounted for 29% of all California deals between 2013 and 2022, the next 10 accounted for 32%, and 39% of all deals closed during the remainder of the month.
It’s the season
Attom offered these statistics as a way to suggest the “best” day to buy a home. Of course, what is “best” depends on whether you are a buyer or seller.
Additionally, closing dates are relatively random – give or take a few days – occurring several weeks after a sales contract is signed. Let’s politely say that these daily calculations have little strategic value.
These figures nevertheless remind us of the cyclical nature of the search for accommodation.
Winter is slower and cheaper. End of spring and summer, warmer and more expensive.
Industry logic dictates that these trends are linked to families with school-age children who want to move before the start of the school year. This young family often buys larger and more expensive homes.
So think about these calendar features when you see striking differences in extreme prices over the course of a year – by day – for California home sales.
For price, California’s lowest point is January 30, at an average of $365,000. The high is September 7 at $549,000.
Variations in premiums paid above estimated values: January 2 is the lowest at $1,900 compared to the highest on May 26 at $44,000.
I wonder how the seasonality of home buying might change with California’s older population and low birth rate, creating fewer households with children to support the spring “rush” to buy.
Additionally, will online tools make the search for housing easier and faster, thereby expanding the times of year when people are actively buying or selling homes?
However, I know that regardless of demographic fluctuations or technological changes, many Californians will not juggle the hassle of closing up a home during the holidays.
So, today could be the worst day to buy a house in California for years to come.
Jonathan Lansner is the Southern California News Group’s business columnist. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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