Our spirits rise with the thermometer. Real green shoots begin to pop in Central and Prospect Parks, along the Hudson, and in all the little pocket parks scattered around the city: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths. The peonies, which love a cold winter, send forth their little red-green shoots, while ducks and geese and warblers wing through town. Can it be any surprise that more real estate gets sold in spring than at any other time of year?
Almost every property seems appealing in April, May, and early June. In the season of renewal, everyone wants something new. No more trudging through the snow and ice from dim apartment to dim apartment; in the warmer sun and fresher air, interiors, bathed with a soft glow, look better than they have for months.
For sellers who have been wondering whether to sell, this is the moment to list your property! First take a look around. Dispose of all the clutter and throw on a fresh coat of light colored paint if the walls look dingy. If you have heavy window treatments, open them up or preferably, take them down. Unless you are facing a really grim alleyway, something white and gauzy (or fully retractable) is best on the windows. And those windows need to be washed! It’s a safe bet that 33% of your furniture ought to go into storage. While we New York City agents don’t rise to the level of those in California, who move every stick of the owner’s furniture out so they can fully redecorate the property with anonymous, light, modern-ish pieces, we nonetheless have come to appreciate the benefits of staging or at least sprucing. Most of your photos need to go. The bric a brac on your dressers and kitchen counters needs to go. The closets need to look as if a few more garments could easily fit into them. As to where everything goes, hopefully you have a storage room in your basement. If not, rent one. Better still, give it away. In the town of Sharon CT we have a swap shop at our local transfer station to which we regularly take boxes of books, unused rugs, mugs, frames, and appliances. The fancier stuff goes to the local thrift shop. Less is more.
My advice to buyers: brace yourselves. For a variety of reasons discussed in other blog posts and market reports, there will be no flood of spring inventory coming onto the market. The good properties which do appear will inspire excitement and a lot of interest. Be prepared to strike while the iron is hot – this is a market in which making an arrangement to see a property in two weeks may well mean you never get to see it at all. Have all your financial ducks in a row: discussions with your mortgage banker should have already taken place so you know what you can borrow, and you should pull together a financial statement because you will have to submit one with your offer, be it for a condominium (except a new one), a townhouse, or a co-op. And try to develop a sense of what you are prepared to spend to get what you want, because this market could well push you to that limit. The only properties which actually become LESS desirable in the spring are those in buildings with summer work rules. Sometimes that can present opportunity for a buyer with big and complex renovation plans and plenty of time.
Most years, the fevered pace of the spring market eases after Memorial Day. Although still active, June, July, and August tend to be a little slower. Less becomes available, and the pace of sales eases. Everyone takes a vacation. Then it is September, and the rush to get settled before winter hunkers us down again ushers in the busy fall market.