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December 29, 2011

Homebuying for the holidays

The stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year's is usually housing-market downtime. Most would-be buyers are busy purchasing other sorts of things at the malls. Would-be sellers sometimes pull their homes off the market entirely to wait for the much brisker spring market.

But this year, some real estate agents are reporting a spike in business.

"I've been really busy over the last month with clients, out either looking for houses or under contract and closing," said John Kantorski, a real estate agent with Cummings & Co. Realtors in Lutherville.

He even got a call about one of his listings that was pulled off for the winter. Buyers wanted to come see it. "That's unusual," he said.

When we chatted last week, Kantorski was about to show another client several homes -- three days before Christmas. "Usually this time of year, I have plenty of free time. Now, not too much," he said.

Tom Harner, broker of Century 21 Associates in Maryland, said his agents are seeing "a lot more activity" as well.

"We're going to see a favorable December -- not a runaway market, but a favorable December," said Harner, whose brokerage has offices in Columbia, Annapolis and Waldorf.

Noah Mumaw, a real estate agent with Yerman, Witman, Gaines & Conklin Realty in Baltimore, was in the middle of a settlement (a slow part) when he chatted with me on Dec. 21. Lack of snow helps, he said.

"I think it's the weather staying warmer just keeps people out and going," he said. "Usually it starts to settle down ... right around Thanksgiving. ... This year it really hasn't. People are out and looking."

Now he's counting on a January slowdown to give him a chance to prepare for the spring market.

As Kantorski noted, this is all anecdotal. We'll see when December figures come out next month whether the holidays were unusually busy for the housing market as a whole.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Housing market experiences


Hi Jamie,

Hope you are enjoying your Holidays.. Happy New Year in Advance..

Now coming back to the article, it sounds to be a smart move but it's very rare to find a homeowner to sell property during this time.. They already know about the down market at this time of the year and pull off all their real estate listings and wait for the Holidays to end.. Still it's worth a try.. you might get lucky :)

Lots of weasel words and anecdotes in this "story". It does not belong on a blog for a news organization. Seriously, "some" real estate agents are reporting a "spike". Sorry, I'd be embarassed to write that on a personal blog, let alone a news blog.

And this, less than 10 days after the NAR admitted that it had been padding their "sales data" for several years. Of course, they said it was an innocent mistake. They were 15% off--always to the high side--by *mistake*. Shameful. And shameful that the sales padding story was not reported here but this realtor pablum merited a post. I'm done with this blog.

Yikes, chappy10 -- I didn't mean this to be taken as some sort of vital indicator of the housing market. I simply thought it was interesting that agents who aren't the "everything's great all the time" sort were saying they're having an unusual December. It could be as simple as the weather, which Mumaw noted. Had I been hearing agents say in, say, April that things were unusually slow (i.e. even worse than it's been the last few years), I would have written about that too.

I understand the kneejerk reaction to agents, I really do. There are plenty I refuse to interview because they did not strike me as candid (or in some cases knowledgeable).

As for the National Association of Realtor problems, I did report on them when the news was first breaking -- that was months ago. Here's the post:

As I noted there, the local figures aren't built on samples and extrapolations. I couldn't think of anything new to say this time around that I hadn't already said then, and I didn't think anyone would come here looking for that coverage since I don't write about national real estate news. I do try to stick to the local niche.

In any case, I'm sorry to see you go. You've always struck me as an informed and reasonable reader, and it stings to know you're leaving because you think I'm some sort of a shill.

I have to agree about the holidays bringing good cheer and sometimes good sales opportunities. I normally don't hope for much at that time of year, but this time I did run some ads, just to see what would happen. As fate may have it, we did receive a few calls to view properties. Even though the volume of calls was lower, the clients that called were definitely, if nothing else, very seious.

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
Baltimore Sun articles by Jamie

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