Busting the myth of the slow summer real estate market

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Richard (left) and June (center) Kasher of Villanova are excited to sell their home and live on the western coast of Florida year-round with help from their Realtor Pamela Owsik (right).

Summer is not the easiest time of the year to sell a house, or to buy one, for that matter.

Or is it?

"I often tell sellers the best time to list is when they are ready," said Chris Somers, broker/owner of Re/Max Access in Philadelphia's Northern Liberties neighborhood.

"If it happens to be the summer, that is fine, as the market is still very busy year in and year out," he said.

Despite the arrival of summer, Somers said his office has been "super busy." Not as busy as the spring, "but you certainly do not want to wait to get your property sold if you are ready now."

"And there are buyers now," he emphasized.

It could be that the bad rap the summer real estate market has gotten over the years is undeserved.

Statistically, according to Kevin Gillen, chief economist for Meyers Research and senior research fellow at Drexel University's Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, the winter months remain the slowest time for real estate transactions.

"The city typically averages 4,130 sales each summer," said Gillen. The slowest summer since 1980 was 1982, when there were only 1,989 transactions, he noted.

For the region as a whole - the city and the seven suburban counties - summer sales average 18,104 transactions, with a low of 11,638 in 2010, Gillen said, adding that his data go back only to 2005.

April through June is the peak transaction period. Although we won't know the numbers for this year for a few weeks, the second quarter of 2015 saw 17,073 sales. Last year was one of continued recovery from the downturn that began in 2007, when the housing bubble burst.

"The summer market is not as bad as it used to be years ago," said John Duffy, owner of Duffy Real Estate on the Main Line, who has been selling real estate for 44 years.

"Of course, July and August tend to be the slowest months, but we have just gotten a number of new listings, and the rates are down instead of up, as predicted," he said.

August 2015 was one of the busiest he has seen in his years as a broker, Duffy said.

Houses show better in the summer than just about any other time of the year - especially if there is a pool, he said.

"Keep the air conditioning at a comfortable temperature and don't worry about the cost," said Diane Williams, of Weichert Realtors in Blue Bell.

"Landscape, landscape, landscape," she said. "Open drapes and curtains. More light."

Carol McCann, of Re/Max Millennium in Fox Chase, said she found "many buyers and sellers with school-age children actively looking to buy and sell during June and July."

"The summer and winter is a critical time to close for families who need to be enrolled in school or start a new job," said Benjamin Oller, of the Condo Shop.

Yet not every buyer is rushing to get the children registered for school in the fall, Somers said.

"In many of these hot first-time markets, the buyers do not have children, so it takes away that seasonality issue," Somers said, adding that the same is true for empty-nesters.

Summer is not a deterrent for high-end condo buyers, either, said Marianne Harris, sales and marketing director for Dranoff Properties.

"I just signed a contract yesterday morning at One Riverside for $2.3 million, and we had a reservation at Two Liberty yesterday for an $870,000 condo," Harris said.

"Our sector may be a little more summer-proof in that the demand for new luxury condos is outpacing the supply," she said, adding that the difference is that buyer traffic is on Monday through Friday rather than on weekends.

Realtor Barbara Capozzi said that if buyers and sellers are waiting for the fall to act, they are likely going to miss the boat.

New and older housing stock is available in more areas than ever, she said.

"Choices that were not available even five years ago are the 'in' places to be now," Capozzi said.

"This summer, many buyers are not in the rush that this sellers' market says they should be in," said Mickey Pascarella, of Keller Williams Real Estate in Center City.

aheavens@phillynews.com

215-854-2472@alheavens

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