When to Buy and When to Sell

there’s no magic to the Chippewa Valley real estate market, but these simple tips can help buyers and sellers

V1 Staff

Who wants to buy a house when the temperatures are below zero and the streets are swathed in ice? And who wants to sell one at a time of year when it’s hard enough keeping slush off the carpet, let alone maintaining floors pristine enough for an open house?

Well, it turns out that some people actually do want to buy and sell houses even when the snow is flying. In fact, if you’re looking for the best value in buying a home, the time to look is right after New Year’s Day, advises Krag Blomberg, past president of the Realtors Association of Northwestern Wisconsin. Christmas causes chaos for many people, but once the holidays are over, it’s time to start house hunting, says Blomberg, a Realtor with Re/Max Affiliates in Eau Claire.

Seasonal Shifts

That’s not to say that home sales are constant throughout the year, especially in an extreme climate like ours. According to Blomberg, a good rule of thumb around here is that 20 percent of annual home sales will be between January and March; 30 percent will be April-June; another 30 percent will be July-September; while the final 20 percent will sell October-December. “It’s definitely a curve there, but it’s not as extreme as some people would think,” Blomberg says of the seasonal sales pattern.

The winter cold sometimes cuts into home sales, Blomberg says, but that doesn’t mean you should despair if your domicile is on the market at the moment. There may not be a lot of buyers on the prowl, but there aren’t many houses for sale, either, meaning there’s still a relative balance between supply and demand.
“If you put a house on the market right now and it’s priced right and presented well, it will sell,” Blomberg says. For a motivated seller, anytime is the right time to sell, he adds.

Hints for Buyers

If you’re considering buying, the good news is you should be able to find something in this market that fits your needs within six months. Blomberg recommends that house hunters get pre-approved by a lender before they start: This will allow them to act quickly when they find their dream home, as well as to know what kind of price tag they can afford. Connecting with a Realtor early in the process can help as well, because a professional can assist potential homebuyers in narrowing their options easily, he says. (Online real-estate search services – such as Trulia and Zillow – can be helpful, but the information they contain isn’t always current.)

Market Movers

According to Wisconsin Realtors Association data, the slowest month for home sales in western Wisconsin is January. (In January 2014, only 320 homes changed hands in the 12-county area that includes Eau Claire, Chippewa, and Dunn counties). February is slow, too, but by March things begin to pick up, reaching a crest in June (865 houses sold!), July, and August, then beginning to taper off again as fall and winter arrive. Prices follow a roughly similar pattern: In 2014, the median sale price in January was $140,000, while the median price peaked in June at $154,000.

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