It is no secret that real estate is a seasonal business. There is heightened listing and sales activity in the spring/summer months that declines as we reach the holiday season each year. I decided to take a look at the last 11 years in King County to see exactly when sellers list their homes for sale in and around Seattle.
The pattern of new listings is remarkably consistent from year to year. There is a spike of new listings in January as the holidays end and the new year begins. New listing volume peaks roughly between the months of May-June of each year, with strong listing activity from March-August in most years. Listing volume gradually declines in September-October and then dramatically tails off in November and bottoms out in December. Looking at the last decade, the number of new listings that come on the market in December is 50-70% lower than the peak activity in May-June.
A few more interesting notes on this chart. You will see a big spike of new listings in March-April 2010 as sellers attempted to take advantage of the home buyer tax credit. The sudden shift downwards from 2008 > 2009 clearly shows the lack of seller enthusiasm for trying to sell their home.
2011 has been particularly slow for new listings, and I anticipate that when December numbers come out, the number of new listings for this month will likely set a decade-long low. Obviously the population has continued to increase in King County during the past decade, so it is a very telling story about how fewer people are currently attempting to sell their homes.