We’ve definitely hit the peak summer frenzy. After a pretty tepid winter and spring, the floodgates opened the last week of June, and it’s been crazy busy since. Now, the six or seven weeks from July 1 until mid August is typically the peak of the year here, but this year it seems busier than I remember. I’ve talked to a lot of other Realtors here, and they’re reporting much the same thing.
As a buyer, this time of year you probably need a little more patience. There’s only so much ‘Realtor capacity’ in the system, and things get backed up. It can take a little longer to get a response to an email about a property or a return phone call. With a day of back to back showings, there may be no time for an ’email break’. If you send an email inquiry, or fill out one of the inquiry forms about a property through websites like mine or Zillow or Realtor.com, include a phone number. While we may not be able to reply to an email until that evening or the next day, on an appointment day we often have long stretches between showings where we can make phone calls.
If you want to house shop on weekends, you may need to be somewhat flexible about time. During the off-season, 1 o’clock appointments on weekends are fine, but during the summer, most of us are fitting in two or three a day and everybody can’t be accommodated at 1.
If you can do it, consider coming up on a weekday — appointments are more relaxed and can cover more territory. Also, on weekdays you’re generally not working around house guests or weekend “AirBnB” renters. (I’d venture that on summer weekends, of every 10 houses I set up to show, between 2 and 4 aren’t showable because of renters, house guests, family reunions or weddings.) If you’re part of a couple where only one of you is free on a weekday, consider coming up for a weekday scouting trip to narrow down options for a return visit with your other half.
Plan ahead. Even if I have an opening, it can be difficult to arrange showings at very short notice, particularly for weekends. Often the listing agent has to get in touch with the owner for the “coast is clear” check, which can take a day. Or for houses that require the listing agent to be present for showings, I may be available but they may be already booked.
Consider coming up for the whole weekend, particularly if you want to cover a number of different areas. My favorite way to work with new buyers unfamiliar with Sullivan County is for them to make a weekend trip of it. That way instead of a single 3 to 4 hour appointment (which will generally be limited to one part of the county, or a smaller group of houses), we can break it into 2 or 3 shorter two hour trips. This is particularly a great way to do it if you have little kids. Little ones generally fizzle with house shopping around the three hour mark.
If you’re coming up for the day, give yourself extra time. On summer weekends, most Realtors here will have multiple appointments. Showing days can be planned like clockwork. If you’re a half an hour or an hour late, often the only option is to cut out one or two of the houses you were coming to see.
If you’re coming with kids, particularly if you’re looking at lake houses, plan a ‘lake stop’. It can be really tough on kids to visit lake houses and see other kids swimming and playing in a lake. So instead of a marathon 4 or 5 hour house shopping trip, consider 2 or 3 hours of house looking and then swing by one of the public lakes here for a picnic and a dip. Getting up early, house hunting from 10 to 1, then playing from 1 to 3 at a lake before heading home makes a great summer outing.
Avoid “Fried Fridays”. During the summer, Fridays are the worst day to get in touch with Realtors here. A lot of us are in frenzy mode on Fridays setting up appointments for the weekend. If I have 4 or 5 client appointments on the weekend, I may be making showing arrangements for 15 or 20 houses. Fridays can be like a harried game of Whack-A-Mole, constantly reworking plans based on showing availability. Fridays are not a chatty day. On Fridays, even the friendliest, chattiest Realtor can be short and to the point.