I have been selling real estate for nearly 21 years. In all those years there are certain truisms that play out year after year: August is the slowest month of the year for real estate; sellers typically command more money in the spring; the kitchen is the most important room in the house etc., etc., etc.
January is traditionally the 2nd slowest month of the year behind August. Many would think December with all the holidays should be slowest, but in fact many people try to close before the end of the year for tax reasons. January is slow for the simple fact that buyers typically don’t enter escrow in December – a requirement for activity in January. In sales we call this pipeline; upcoming closings that fill our pipeline. Pipeline, is to my thinking, the most important word in a Realtor’s vocabulary. And this brings me to January. The drawback for January is lack of pipeline. Sure, there are some agents who had big December openings but my experience suggests they are the exception not the rule.
So how does this January stack up? Uh, in a word, slow. Not only is this January slow in the historical context of all January’s, but it is especially slow because of the lack of sellers. I am accustomed to receiving calls about this time, from people inquiring about selling. Most will lead to the listings that fuel my pipeline. This year however, has started off unusually slowly, even by January standards. I can only attribute this to the reality that many sellers are facing: prices are too low to motivate them to sell. They won’t make enough off the sale to buy a replacement property, or cash out. Sure, we still have our short sales, and the REO agents will continue to get theirs, but this year seems like it’s starting very slow. A long time resale agent friend of mine has over 1700 past clients. He’s making 50 calls a day, and says if he’s lucky he’s getting one listing appointment for all those calls. This of course suggests we may be in for another year of standoff between buyers and sellers. 2010 will be remembered as the year of the gentle slide: where sellers pushed back, but couldn’t push hard enough to reverse the trend.
I suppose if I had to predict I’d say 2011 will be more of the same; that is unless we see a ton of foreclosures hit the market or a strong improvement in unemployment. In the mean time, if you know someone who wants to sell or buy, please give them my name; my pipeline is looking a little bit empty.