August: No Longer The Dead Zone For Real Estate
Courtesy Sergi Wingman, Unsplash
August, the month when residential real estate in New York dies as everyone goes to the countryside. The conventional wisdom when I entered the business was that transactions in the city slowed to a halt when July rolled around; all the families vacationed in Long Island or Connecticut or Maine, leaving behind the summer bachelor dads who definitely didn’t shop for a home without the wife around.
Times change. The family structure of today differs from that of 40 or 50 years ago, as do both real estate marketing techniques and buyers’ access to information. As a result, summer doldrums no longer set in for us agents; with the exception of a week or two around Labor Day and Christmas, we tend to be busy all year long. How did these changes come about?
The biggest change in buyer behavior relates to the difference in how families are structured. Today’s buyers are far more likely to be part of a working couple, in which neither spouse takes the summer off. The affluent population of New York thus includes far fewer summer bachelors than in the past. While the family may be away for a few weeks here and there, it’s far less common for Mom and the kids to leave town on June 15th and return during the first week of September.
Even if the family does leave town, they needn’t be in any way out of touch. Several of my agents [at Warburg Realty] and within the industry decamp to Sag Harbor or Nantucket for at least a month, but email and the internet let them keep up with clients and listings and negotiate deals, while enjoying the beach and expanding their networks with new summer acquaintances. All that plan requires is a trusted assistant or team member who remains in town to be available for arranging and attending showings. The same basic calculus pertains for buyers as well: wherever they are, they can check every day to see what appropriate properties may have come onto the market or had their prices reduced. Every summer, we make deals with buyers who see something they like while they are away and fly or drive into the city for the day to see it and decide whether it is the right fit.
What many of these buyers figure out is that summer is often a great time to buy. Many sellers, even those with grown children, still follow the school year schedule; the new year basically begins in September. The fall calls for a clean slate: out with the old, in with the new. And what could be older than the apartment which has been on the market for months? Many sellers are thus ready to make a deal in the latter half of the summer just so they can approach the fall with old business (and old homes and apartments) behind them. For this reason August can present real buyer opportunities on aging inventory.