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The January FOMO Phenomenon

After 19 years as a full-time professional REALTOR® and being a serious student of market trends, I’ve picked up a few things. I call one of them the ‘January FOMO Phenomenon.’

One thing that never changes is the fact that December and January are ALWAYS the slowest two months of the year for sales. Most times, sales are marginally higher in January, but surprisingly often, they are lower! Overall, the numbers between the two months are remarkably close to even-steven over the last several years.

This contradicts what most people think (including practically every other agent I know). After all, it’s easily explainable why sales are slow in December. It’s the dead of winter, and who has time for house shopping in the weeks leading up to Christmas?

But why is it still so slow in January?

After all, most people considering buying a new home wait until the New Year to get serious. This makes sense. New year. New beginning. New home!

And it’s true. There is always WAY more buyer activity in January compared to December. I typically have three to five times more showing activity in January than in December! But here’s the punch line:

More showings ≠ More sales.

This can be super frustrating for sellers. They’re getting way more activity, but still, no offers! 

Here’s the simple explanation: Buyers looking in January are getting an early start on their search, and they don’t feel any sense of urgency. Even if they come across a listing they love, they often think, “This one is great! But there are lots of new listings coming on, so let’s wait and see what else pops up over the next month or two.” 

They’re afraid of missing out on a future listing that could be better than the one they’re looking at. That’s the FOMO part.

Then, as time moves on, sure enough, there are more and more listings, but also more and more competing buyers, so now everyone feels more pressure to make a decision.

Suddenly, we’re in the middle of the spring market! 

What are the ramifications of this phenomenon for buyers? It depends mostly on market conditions. For example, if sales in January are higher than in December, it most likely means that we’re in for a HOT spring market, and buyers would be wise to decide sooner rather than later. 

(As I see it, a HOT spring market is the most likely scenario for 2024 across almost every market segment.)

What about sellers? Under the same conditions, they should wait longer before listing. After all, if it’s a HOT market, the longer they wait, the higher the price they might achieve.

Of course, there are numerous other factors to consider. Under different circumstances, selling sooner than later might make more sense.

Here’s another scenario to consider:

If you’re buying and selling in the same market, are there strategies you can employ to take advantage of the market (buy low and sell high)? 

Why yes, there are. 

But you need to be talking to a highly skilled and experienced agent with your best interests at heart. 

Give me a call ANYTIME, and let’s discuss the best strategy for you and your unique set of circumstances.

All the best in 2024!