Move Over Punxsutawney: My Prognostication for Boston Real Estate in 2014

Why I predict the Boston real estate season will start strong and early

Guest blog post by Boston Redfin agent Alex Coon

Crowds Gathering On Groundhog's Day For Punxsutawney Phil Tradition

Just like Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the start of spring for the past 124 years, I have similarly been predicting the start of the real estate season each February since 2001 when I started my career in Boston real estate. I’m not looking for my shadow, but rather looking out the window at the amount of snow on the ground. Just as you might be skeptical of Punxutawney Phil’s method, you might doubt mine, but let me reassure you it’s a sophisticated ritual.

I predict that the Boston spring selling season will start early and strong this year and then start to taper off in June or July. Let me explain why.

My prediction is all about whether or not Bostonians’ “siege mentality” is likely to end by mid February or if the frigid weather conditions will cause them to hunker down and forge ahead for another few weeks. If the cold weather forces people to stay indoors for long periods of time, cancel home tours and plans to list their homes, the Boston spring selling season is likely to start gradually and closer to mid-March. No matter how hot the neighborhood is, no one wants to tour homes when you have to take your shoes and winter layers on and off at each stop. Plus, the snow keeps you from getting a good look at the roof, foundation and landscaping anyway. (If you are selling in winter, check out our six tips to attract buyers). On the other hand, if there are prolonged periods of time without snow on the ground, people are more likely to get outdoors sooner and the Boston spring market will start with a bang, around mid-February.

So far this year we’ve been lucky, despite the polar vortex, because the spells of extreme winter weather and snowfall have only spanned a few days at a time. For example, traces of the snowstorm that hit Boston on Jan. 21, were mostly melted by Jan. 23. The way I see it, we’ve had an ideal winter season for producing a strong spring market. Long periods of inclement weather slow the market down, but a few days of frigid temperatures can actually increase demand. If you’re thinking about buying a home, but stuck indoors, there’s a good chance that you will use your extra free time to browse homes on Redfin.com and schedule tours for the next week when your local weatherman has forecasted temperatures to rise. The timing of spring’s arrival also impacts my prediction for how the season will play out. Just like 2013, if the Boston real estate season starts early, it will likely peak and slow down earlier in the summer, around June or July. If things don’t heat up until March, then the Boston market is likely to hold strong through August.

Let’s look at how 2013 played out. Winter Storm Nemo, a.k.a. the Blizzard of 2013, left Boston deluged with 25 inches of snow Feb. 8 to 9, leaving many homes without electricity. It was the fifth largest snowfall accumulation since 1935, but it came at just the right time. Most of the groundcover was cleared within a week and people were racing to open houses. True story: Last year, the cops came to shut down an open house that attracted so many buyers, it caused a traffic jam. Because of the all the snow piles, there was almost no street parking available, and people left their cars wherever they could. If the storm came even just a few days later, Boston’s home-selling season would have started more gradually.

There are many factors that impact the Boston real estate market—consumer confidence, mortgage rates, jobs—but every year I take note of the weather patterns. Why take stock of such a seemingly inconsequential factor? The answer lies in the significance of my fellow prophesiers. We look to Punxsutawney Phil and others moving in on the weather prognostication business, such as Staten Island Chuck and Sir Walter Wally, because they give us hope. They let us look forward to warmer days and the promise of a fresh start. Here’s to an early spring and a strong real estate market!

Discussion

  • Craig Walsh

    I strongly appreciate this prediction about Boston real
    estate strong and good start of this season. The prediction would definitely
    help Boston real estate to make plans, organize their work and control
    them.