I examined data pulled from MLS areas 380,385,390,700,701,705,710. This represents the Seattle core. This would not include Skyway, West Seattle or Shoreline- but would include Leschi, Mt Baker, Capitol Hill, Madison Park, Central District, Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Seward Park, Ballard, Greenlake, Wallingford, U District, Sand Point, Bryant, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Fremont, Ravenna, Maple Leaf, Wedgewood, etc...
You get the idea.
I am analyzing a report that tracks data from today back through 2000 and examines Active Sales vs. Pending Sales in Seattle on a month by month basis. I thought there were some fascinating findings- some that follow conventional wisdom and some that do not.
1) IN WHAT MONTH DOES A BUYER HAVE THE WIDEST ABSOLUTE SELECTION OF HOUSES? (SEPTEMBER)
The basic question is: What month of the year carries the highest number of active properties? The answer is September! In 4 years out of the 9 year sample size (partial 2009 through full year 2000) the month ending with the largest number of active properties for the year was in September (2000, 2001, 2002, and 2006). October (2007) and November (2005) also round out the fall. So, in 6 out of the 9 years- the Fall Season (September, October, November) offered the highest number of available inventory to a prospective buyer.
In 2003 and 2004 the highest number of actives took place in June, and in 2008 the highest active month was May.
2) AS A BUYER, IN WHAT MONTH DO I FACE THE LOWEST AMOUNT OF COMPETITION? (SEPTEMBER)
Nothing is worse than finding a property you like, and then once you are ready to make an offer, you find that the property has already gone PENDING. Not only is it important to find the month with the largest selection of inventory, but what month has the lowest level of competition against me (as a buyer)?
On a relative basis, what month has the highest ratio of Active vs. Pending properties? Using the number of Pending properties as a proxy for the level of competition yields a statistic known as Months Inventory (Number of Actives divided by the Number of Pendings). The higher the number of months- the lower the level of competition against me as a prospective buyer. Months Inventory peaked in September 5 out of the 9 years (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007) and peaked in November one time (2005) and in December one time (2008).
In 2003 and 2004 the highest Monthly Inventory for the year was in January.
WHAT IS THE BUSIEST MONTH OF THE YEAR IN TERMS OF MUTUALLY ACCEPTED OFFERS? (MAY)
This one follows the common thought process. In Seattle, over the past nine years, the busiest months as measured by the number of PENDING transactions was May. In four out of the nine years (2001, 2002, 2006, 2007) May was the busiest month. June was second with two years (2004 and 2008). March won one time (2005). June won one time (2008). July won one time (2003). Basically late Spring is the busiest time which makes sense. Most Realtors will tell you the same.
AS A SELLER, IN WHAT MONTH DO I FACE THE LOWEST LEVEL OF COMPETITION ON AN ABSOLUTE BASIS? (JANUARY)
This one also holds to common logic. In 5 out of the 9 years, the lowest number of Active properties took place in January (2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2008) In 4 out of the 9 years, the lowest number of Active properties took place in December (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005). If a buyer is looking for a home and needs to move in the dead of winter- they have very little selection to choose from- which may increase your odds of selling. Conversely, as a buyer- in what month must I choose from the lowest level of inventory? Again, the answer would follow common thinking (January/December).
AS A SELLER, IN WHAT MONTH DO I FACE THE LOWEST LEVEL OF COMPETITION ON A RELATIVE BASIS? (MARCH)
To rephrase the question- What month has the lowest level of Months Inventory? (Actives/ Pendings). In Seattle the overwhelming answer is the month of March with 5 out of the 9 years (2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007). February won one time (2000). May won one time (2002). June won one time (2008). Conversely, in what month do I face the highest level of competition as a buyer? March.
In 2003, October had the lowest Months Inventory as a whopping 1365 properties went Pending that month while the month ended with only 2101 Actives. That was an anomaly after examining the surround months in 2003 and in 2002 and 2004. Throw that one out.
CONCLUSIONS (non scientific)
1) The best month to go buy a house in Seattle is September.
2) The best month to sell your house in Seattle is March.
3) The busiest deal month is May.
4) The lowest level of absolute selection as a Seattle buyer and absolute competition as a Seattle seller happens in December/January.
5) As a buyer, my competition is most fierce in March on a relative basis.
6) As a seller, my competition is most fierce in September on a relative basis.