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Seasonal home sale swings are mostly gone from the Charlotte market

By Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

Charlotte’s housing market, historically, doesn’t see the sharp seasonal ups and downs that are common in other areas. And for the past couple of years, seasonal swings have all but disappeared.

Sales at Allen Tate Realty, the area’s largest broker, have been virtually the same day in and day out.

So – good luck timing the market.

I read that during the downturn- the entire nation has been experiencing more of a year-round real estate market. I called Pat Riley, Tate’s president. “During the last year, for Tate, it has been virtually season free,” he said. “We sold the same amount of homes day to day. It has been steady.”

Charlotte’s not completely immune from the ups and downs that impact other areas, of course.

Young families still like to move during the summer, to get kids settled before school starts. Nobody much likes to move on holidays, so sales slow then.

The sharp seasonal markets in other markets affect this one. Charlotte’s market has always been tied to the patterns in the Northeast, for instance. You can’t sell to a buyer from Ohio, Michigan or Pennsylvania until he sells his home there.

Places like, say, Erie, Pa., see more clearly defined sales seasons.

“They still have seasonality,” Riley said. “You’re probably not going to buy a home in 2 feet of snow.” Sales of vacation homes remain seasonal. Beach sales typically take off after Easter, Riley said.

But, at the heart of the regional market, seasonal ups and downs are not black and white. “It’s very gray,” he said.

Seasonality became less pronounced across the country as buyers and sellers decided to sit on the sidelines. Buyers didn’t want to purchase homes only to see prices fall. Sellers wanted to wait for higher prices.

“No one wanted to make a decision, because they didn’t want to make a mistake,” Riley said. “I don’t want to make a mistake, so what do I do? I freeze.”

So those traditional seasonal peaks dipped and looked more like the valleys.

If there’s no huge seasonal surge, you can’t time your listing perfectly to ride the crest of the wave. If you want to sell, you might as well get your house in tip-top shape, price it correctly, and plunge in.

Sometimes, Riley points out, it’s smart to do the opposite of what everybody else is doing. Avoid the crowds.

List your home at a slow time, when there are fewer homes on the market, offering less competition.

Of course, if there’s no seasonality you can’t do that, either.

Special to the Observer:

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