Best Time of Year to Sell a Chicago Apartment Building?
A client of ours recently asked,“What is the best time to put our apartment building on the market?” Our experience tells us that buying season in the Chicago apartment building market begins in February when investment real estate buyers put their plan for the year into action. We decided to find out if there is data available to help us confirm our thesis for multi-unit properties.
To do this we used data from the Multiple Listing Service. (Source: MRED, LLC) Due to data constraints, we had to use a proxy for Chicago apartment buildings. We decided that 3 flats would be good based on the large transaction volume. We only searched for 3 unit listings over the last 24 months in Chicago; East of Cicero Avenue and North of Interstate 290. We found 1,627 listings to use as our sample.
First, we looked at the status of all the listings we pulled and the average days on market.
No surprises here, sold listings are under contract within 45 days, while listings that do not sell spend an average of 110 days on the market.
Next, we compared 2016 to 2017.
More 3 flats listed in 2016 sold than in 2017, but the figures were consistent. Most interesting to us was the shortening of the average time on market for sold properties. This tells us that buyers increased their appetite for well-priced, attractive Chicago apartment buildings in 2017.
Additionally, we aggregated the data by month and looked at sold and unsold listings by the month they were listed.
Spoiler Alert: This is where the data begins to tell an interesting story.
First, the number of apartment buildings listed jumps up in February and begins to fall after September. This appears to confirm the theory that real estate season in Chicago begins after the Super Bowl, which is in early February.
Next, we noticed that the average time on the market is shortest for properties listed in February and that there is a huge increase in properties for sale in March. Our theory is that buyers begin shopping in February, but sellers are a month behind, perhaps many sellers believe that the season starts in March.
Finally, we wanted to take a look at listing price versus sold price to determine if sellers listing in February were taking less than asking in order to get their property sold before more listings hit the market in March.
The data suggests otherwise. Sellers who list their property in February are getting 96.7% of asking price, which is second only to sellers who list in September who get 97.5% of asking. Properties listed in February also sell the fastest.
In March we see a big increase in the number of apartment building listings hitting the market (gray bar). We also see a dip in sold price to asking price ratio (green line) and an increase in time on the market (orange line). This tells us that in March supply is greater than demand.
In July there is a big increase in time on the market and it is the most buyer friendly month based on sold price versus asking price. Time on the market is also higher than we expected in August. Perhaps, buyers are going on vacation?
September is another good month to be a seller as the number of properties hitting the market slows, time on the market decreases and the sold to asking ratio peaks. We presume that September buyers want to get a deal closed before the end of the year and they know that the market for opportunities begins to tail off in October, so September is closing time for the season. After September the market goes into hibernation and the buyers who remain can take their time to negotiate a good deal.
Based on this analysis we believe that the data supports our thesis that investment real estate buying season begins in February and runs through September.
Our key takeaways for the Best time to list a Chicago apartment building:
- February is a good time to list a property because there is strong demand and supply is limited.
- However, sellers with a unique property may consider waiting until March, April, or May. Even though there is more competition from other properties, the market is teeming with buyers.
- Buyers can see a lot from March to September and might be able to catch a deal on properties listed in July or August when the competition is on vacation.
- Properties listed in November and December will give the buyer good opportunity for a deal, but the pickings are slim.
Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss our findings in more detail.
Source: MRED, LLC