To us, a warm winter is one with a lot of real estate sales! The recent extension and expansion of the homebuyers' tax credit gives us hope for the traditionally slower months. Because of the timing on the new bill, sellers and buyers should realize that they can't wait until the spring market. Buyers who have no home to sell (usually the first-time buyers) can probably put off finalizing a sale, since the contract must be signed by April 30,2010 and must close within 60 days, by June 30, 2010.
Many of the houses listed in the so-called "spring market" are still coming on the market even into May, so it won't be possible to wait until all the possible choices are available for viewing. Of course, if a buyer also has a house to sell, he or she should get started right away, since that could take up the intervening months. In addition, people should factor in extra time for mortgage approval, as we have been finding that the appraisal process in particular is taking far longer than it did before.
All of that leads to the conclusion that buyers who wish to take advantage of the tax credit cannot risk waiting until the spring rolls around. Since sellers certainly need to start soon, that argues for a busier winter than we're used to having. Don't forget that, although the holidays are busy and it's difficult to schedule showings, many homes look their best when decorated. In addition, the snowiest and iciest months are later in the winter, so now is better from that angle. It's also good to remember that it can pay to list when there isn't much around to compete. Once others realize that time is of the essence, you can already be negotiating your sale and moving on to a new purchase.