Chris Griffith: Is selling real estate off-season worth the hassle

CHRIS GRIFFITH

There’s no doubt we have a seasonal resident population in Southwest Florida. The other day, I pulled up to an intersection on a busy street and there were no cars coming, either direction. It had been months of bumper to bumper traffic on that street and it was quite a surprise to see nothing but a dashed yellow line.

I said to my friend in the car, “Do you suppose the rapture finally happened and we didn’t make the cut?”

The off-season real estate season is back on the minds of real estate sellers again … and maybe even a few buyers. A reader has asked the reoccurring, annual question; is it even worth the hassle to list real estate for sale in the summer?

The question is not without basis. Not long after the Easter holiday we see the swarm of car carriers parked on the side of U.S. 41 loading up vehicles to take them back north. As a matter of fact, I saw three of them on-loading cars in front of Bonita Bay the day before yesterday. Those who see the vacationers and snowbirds leaving wonder if there are going to be any opportunities to sell their real estate if there aren’t buyers in town.

First, not all of the buyers are from outside the area. If a prospective buyer is, in fact, a northerner their access to resources has changed dramatically. As technology would have it, Google has made the world a much smaller place. Those buyers and sellers of real estate motoring north on Interstate 75 don’t always forget about Southwest Florida as soon as they get home. They’re quietly pecking away at the keyboard from their northern base, keeping tabs on the market and absorbing information for their return real estate buying trip and, believe it or not, many times that trip is actually in the summer. A summer buyer once told me that buying real estate in tourist season was like trying to buy a boat on the Fourth of July, which is what prompted his return in the summer.

The approach of the summer real estate buyer is quite different from that of the typical winter vacation or seasonal resident buyer. The tire kicking is over. They’ve watched, learned and dialed into focus, more precisely, what they’re looking for in a Florida home or condo. This means that homes for sale may actually have fewer showings but the buyers who are looking are more focused and committed to buying.

Our unit sales do not sell at the same heightened level as in tourist season but we do have a respectable, healthy real estate market over the summer. Out of curiosity I checked and thought I’d share closed unit sales statistics over the summer last year; January, 872; February, 1,017; March, 1,485; April, 1,515; May, 1,319; June, 1,245; July, 897; August, 947; September, 801; October, 779; November, 796; and December, 927.

Keep in mind that the exaggerated March 2011 through June 2011 sales indicate the big come back and sell-off of the then saturated market. The closed sale figures in winter 2011 actually rivaled the 2004-2005 recorded unit sales. It should be pointed out, for reference, so that it’s understood that those months were unusually high unit sales figures which cast a shadowing the respectable numbers that closed sale over the summer.

Real estate actually does continue to sell over the summer in Southwest Florida. When it’s priced appropriately and has been properly prepped for the market there is no reason why it shouldn’t sell over what is typically thought of by many as the “off season” summer market.

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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, email her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.

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