Weather, mother nature and home sales

Without stop signSo many variables impact the real estate market, both here in Silicon Valley but across the country.  Employment, interest rates, the stock market, the availability of real estate inventory, the confidence of the buying public (say, in the wake of a terroristic attack, announced layoffs, or global conflicts like the invasion of Ukraine) all can move the housing market one way or the other. But they’re not the only forces that do.

Weather and natural disasters can likewise have a pronounced effect on a local housing market too.

My Experience: The ’89 Quake

Anyone in the San Jose area in September of 1989 will vividly recall the Loma Prieta Earthquake, which occurred in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range between Los Gatos and Aptos. Jim and I were buying our first home at that time, in San Jose’s Cambrian district, and in fact did our “final walk through” just two hours before the quake hit.

Our closing got delayed as the lender refused to fund the loan until the home was professionally checked out by an appraiser. They’d seen images of the Bay Bridge, homes off their foundations, fallen chimneys and other disastrous structural failures and weren’t taking a chance on any home!

Luckily for us, the property we were in contract for was essentially unscathed. It was not a young home, but built by a respectable builder, and more importantly it was on solid ground. Thankfully the house was fully vacant since we were close to the planned close of escrow, so there was no fallen furniture or broken glass in the carpeting and most everything was visible and easy to check later for damages. We did close, though it was about 10 days later than expected.

For listings not yet sale pending, it was already a slowing market and the beginning of a correction, but the earthquake plunged the market more deeply into the doldrums. At least for awhile.

Weather Forecasting the Market Activity

There are similar stories with markets all across the state, country, and globe after similar disasters. More recently here in California we’ve seen major impacts on various markets after fiercly destructive wildfires. But mother nature can effect the housing market in much more subtle ways as well, no disaster necessary.


What’s the best time of year for selling your home?

In Silicon Valley, we have pretty decent weather all year, at least most years.  The climate doesn’t make selling your house or condo especially hard at any time, though of course there are seasonal variances and it can be harder to get qualified buyers in during the holidays than on a sunny day in March.

The common wisdom in the San Jose area or the greater San Francisco Bay Area is that February through April tends to be the best time to find or to sell residential real estate, as opposed to late summer or the depths of winter, such as they are.

Often the early months of every year find us with more buyers than sellers.  That is especially the case now, but even in a more normal market, that’s what we see.  That supply and demand situation often causes home prices to rise in the early months of the year.  As the year goes on, more sellers tend to bring their homes to the market as buyers back off.  (Many sellers think that the best time to put a home on the market is summer, but the buyers tend to be more active a bit earlier in the year.)  So as the balance tips a little more in the buyers’ favor, prices frequently either level off or even decline a bit from the peak of spring.

The National Association of Realtors came out with a study that broke it into quarters (for which the Feb – April window straddles both the 1st and 2nd quarters).  Here it’s pretty clear that the 2nd quarter offers the highest median sales price.   Homes which close escrow then (April – June) actually went under contract between March and May in most cases, or approximately 30 days earlier.


Highest median sale price by quarter in Silicon Valley


If the data were presented by month, I believe we’d see that February – April is the best window overall.  Your particular market in Los Gatos, Cupertino, Sunnyvale or elsewhere could be different.  It could also vary depending on price point or school district.

My real time experience is that sales just a little earlier than most sellers expect is the ideal time.  Less competition usually means better pricing for home owners.  (Just recently I had 17 offers on a listing in the Santa Teresa area of San Jose – and it was a February sale.)

Interested in selling your Silicon Valley home?  Please call or email me and we can set up a confidential, no obligation consultation.




In Santa Clara County, homes do sell in November!

Door knockerToday is the first of November. For many Santa Clara County home buyers and sellers, it marks the beginning of “the holiday season” and the end of the home buying & selling season. But is that always the case?

In my real estate practice (San Jose, Los Gatos and all over the county), normally I do have sales activity in November and December. Many times, clients want to be in their new home before the December holidays and the new year. Sometimes it’s for tax reasons. Other times it’s a late year relocation. Once in awhile, someone just wants Christmas, Hanukkah or some other major date in the new home.

This morning I logged onto MLS Listings to see the numbers of sales of single family homes in the month of November over the last dozen years or so to see what we could learn about November home sales in Santa Clara County. We don’t have a crystal ball for November 2014, but if annual patterns hold true again, around 800 homes are likely to sell this month. The lowest number in recent history was 510, and that was during the recession.  Here, then, are the counts for houses sold in SCC in the last 17 years (as far back as I could go on the MLS):

2013 – 762

2012 – 810

2011 – 834

2010 -856

2009 – 853

2008 – 672

2007 – 510

2006 – 853

2005 – 992

2004 – 1146

2003 – 1136

2002 – 933

2001 – 996

2000 – 926

1999 – 1051

1998 – 1080

People still need to buy houses, for whatever reason it may be. The statistics tell us that they continue to do so here in November.  If you are thinking of selling your Silicon Valley home, don’t believe that you must wait until the new year.  A good, well priced, well presented, and well marketed home really can sell here at any time of year.  Unlike the northeast, we do not have terrible weather that makes showings difficult or unappealing.   If you’re interested in a fall or winter home sale, please call or email me.  We can discuss it, your home’s pricing and everything else relevant to give you good information on which to base your decision.


Related reading:  Holiday Home Selling: Good or Bad Idea?