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Summer market fast approaching

By Eric Chodorow

Prudential California Real Estate

We are lucky to live in southern California. In other parts of the country the market for homes can be very seasonal. For example, in Pennsylvania the real estate market is active from March through June, slows down during the summer months, picks up in the fall, and shuts down again by Nov. 1. There is no winter market there. In Arizona, the market essentially folds on May 1 as temperatures soar, and there is virtually no activity until Oct. 1. Once the weather cools, people focus on housing again.

In Southern California, we have a year-around market. Our local buyers, trading up or down, buying larger or smaller, or moving from homes to condos or vice versa, are active all year round. Buyers from Canada and points north often come as visitors during the cold months and find it so attractive living here that they buy homes or condos in December and January. In the summer, we have many visitors from states like Arizona and Texas seeking our cool breezes. Many of them end up buying homes here as second homes or rentals.

Small parts of our market are seasonal — such as sales to out-of-area families with school-age children. These families usually want to be settled into their homes by early September before the start of school. They begin looking in earnest in April, May and June and close on their purchases over the summer. Also, during the summer months there are parents of college age students who are looking for condos as investments that will house their children and their roommates during their college years.

What about inventories? Usually, the inventory peaks in May through August, while it is lowest in the winter months. In June 2009 there were approximately 310 homes on the market, while in January 2010 there were just under 200 homes being offered. In June 2009 there were approximately 215 condos for sale and in January 2010 there were approximately 140 condos on the market.

So, if you are a buyer, you will have more properties to choose from during the summer months, but you will also be competing against more buyers for the prime properties. In the winter months there are fewer properties to choose from, but you can make extraordinary deals when there are so few buyers in the market.

What then is the right time to buy a house? Some would argue that the right time is on New Year’s Eve when so few people are out there looking for homes. Some would say in the summer when the inventories are high. I say, whenever you find the house that absolutely suits your needs is the right time to buy.