“Endless Winter” Fails to Deter Listing Rebound Outlook

Real estate offices have been gearing up for the imminent spring selling season, the time when Portland listings swell to meet the expected surge in buying activity. I sometimes put quotes around ‘selling season’ because so many factors go into home sales that it can be slightly misleading—we do sell homes all year long, after all!

But there is a lot of truth (and historical verification) to the idea that springtime brings a burst of new Portland listings and accompanying selling activity. There can be lots of reasons why that happens, but this past weekend, area homeowners who were reading The Wall Street Journal might have seen some extra reasons to hurry up and add their homes to the Portland listings.

Some of those reasons have to do with weather; some with the economy.

The front page of WSJ’s Weekend Edition headlined the first piece of long-awaited good news: “Job Rebound Eases Fears of Spring Stall.” It explained that recent payroll numbers showed upticks despite the widespread harsh weather that should have knocked them down.

Most economists had been on the fence about whether the years-long weak economic recovery would continue. Even though the previous two months of slowing growth had been attributed to the ‘endless winter’ blanketing much of the nation, it wasn’t clear that underlying weakness wasn’t also present. But the sudden improvement in the job picture, even as the weather failed to lighten up, was an unexpected event—one that could “ease worries” about the likelihood of a fundamental slowdown. In fact, forecasters were beginning to project that the negative economic effects due to the unusual weather (estimated at a loss of 1%) may be more than restored when the sun returns. Spring conditions are now expected to add an additional 1.2% to second quarter growth.

Even a slight rise in the unemployment rate was greeted as hopeful news. What sounded like a negative turns out to be the opposite: more people were returning to the workforce, a sure sign that workers see jobs beginning to reappear. Jobs have always been tied to real estate listing and sales activity, so this year, the NAR’s website truism may be on the mark:

“Spring brings rain and flowers – and possibly extra green in the final sales price of your home.”