Summer Real Estate Spike Less Evident As Sales Maintain Solid Levels
By Chuck Uckert
Summer may still be king in the residential real estate market, say brokers, but its clout may be diminishing as buyers begin bucking traditional sales trends.
The roller coaster effect that saw a spike in real estate sales during the summer followed by a quiet autumn is slowly being replaced by more consistent, year-round sales.
Historically, residential sales peaked in the summer as parents scurried to purchase and move to new homes before the start of the school year. Once school doors opened in September, sales dropped.
While summer still remains the strongest sales period, the normally slower months are beginning to gain ground.
"Seasonality is much less important in residential sales than it used to be," said Pat Dahne, regional president for Arvida Realty Services.
"There’s more of a flattening," said John Doherty, president of Keyes Home Partners Mortgage and Title Co. "There’s not so much of the peaks and valleys."
Mike Pappas, president of Keyes Co. Realtors, said sales were down slightly in June and July but September activity was 15% above last year.
"August and September have come back with a vengeance," he said.
Observers say the trend may reflect a change in today’s home buyer. Once seen as the traditional family with young children, today’s buyers in South Florida cross a wide spectrum of cultures and demographics, resulting in less conformity to past real estate sales cycles.
Ms. Dahne said as Internet-related companies relocate to Miami, they’re bringing young professionals without families to the home buying market. These buyers, she said, aren’t affected by the school season.
"Before it was probably school-related," Mr. Pappas said of the traditional peak in summer sales. However, today, "South Florida has a lot of single, first-time homebuyers."
The influx of South American buyers may also be affecting the trend, since the seasonal sales cycle might be less important to them, according to Ms. Dahne.
Mr. Doherty said families with deep roots in the community may also be a contributing factor. As second and third generations grow to maturity, he said, they’re often buying homes in the same community. As a result, the school calendar isn’t influencing their decision to buy.
Aging baby-boomers with grown families and money to spend are also playing a role. "A lot of people have kids in college they can buy without dealing with the kid issue," Mr. Pappas said.
He said many people are buying second, or vacation, homes. "The whole beach market has seen tremendous appreciation," he said.
Mr. Pappas said he sees the overall economic prosperity as more important to South Florida homes sales than any particular trend. The strong stock market, combined with increased demand, is good news for the South Florida real estate market.
"I’m not sure the trend is as important as the overall run," Mr. Pappas said.
He said the mortgage interest rate is beginning to drop after five rate hikes in the past year.
He also said that Miami has again become a hot location after years of negative publicity and the mass exodus that followed Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
"We went into a tailspin after 1992 until 1996," he said. "Being in a mature market, we’re running out of land. But there’s still demand."