Ask PJ: Can there be advantages to buying/selling in the fall?

logo for Poole Braun real estate team

My name is PJ Braun and I’m a residential real estate agent on the Poole/Braun Team with Long and Foster Realtors. While we serve residents throughout Northern Virginia, we have extensive knowledge of the Alexandria area — I’m actually a Mount Vernon native and we’re headquartered on Richmond Highway. No matter where you live, our team is focused on providing you with the best results and service in the industry.

Braun headshot

PJ Braun

This will be my first of many monthly columns with Covering The Corridor. I am extremely excited for this opportunity to provide CTC readers with local real estate market trends and analysis. My hope is to develop a question-and answer-structure in order to be as “hands on” with my readers as possible. At the end of the day, this is all about providing you with information that is educational, entertaining and useful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions/concerns that you would like to be addressed in my next column.

So what’s going in real estate this time of year? School’s back, temperatures are dropping, leaves are changing colors, and pumpkin spiced everything is on the shelves of local stores. The real estate market is affected as well — and the fall/winter market can be very productive, depending on what your goals are.

Question: What can we expect heading into the fall/winter real estate market?

Answer: For buyers, this time of year (October-January) can result in a more favorable market for getting a bargain on a home. There is significantly less competition during these months. As you can see in the chart below, new pendings (homes under contract) in Alexandria drop significantly from November to January.

Table showing market trend

Click to enlarge

Leverage is on your side for negotiating with worn-out sellers who listed their home in the summer months and are hoping to sell by end of year. Buyers have more buying power as days on the market (DOM) increase. There is less to choose from though, as you will see new listings drop during these months.

If you’ve seen a lot of houses that aren’t meeting your needs, it may be worth waiting for the spring market (and when I say spring, I really mean February on) when there will be more inventory to pick from. Just be prepared to compete with other buyers and potentially pay full price and up.

For sellers, don’t lose all hope when putting your house on the market in the fall and winter. This can often be a great time to test the waters. The buyers that are out are serious buyers!

Let’s say your home goes on the market, some time goes by and you’re just not getting the showings and feedback you were hoping for. Don’t stress! In that case we’d recommend taking it off the market for 90 days in order to reset the Days On Market in the MLS. DOM can hurt you, because buyers want what everyone else wants, and if your house stays on the market for too long, then buyers believe there is something wrong with it.

After the 90 days is up, that would place you somewhere in between February and March, which is our favorite time to sell. Hello early spring sellers market! This scenario only applies if you aren’t in a hurry to sell. Don’t worry, this is the DC Metro area, sellers are always selling and buyers are always buying.


Click to enlarge

If you do plan on listing your home in the winter months, we highly recommend taking exterior home photos in the spring, summer or fall when there are leaves on the trees and the grass is greener. This way a buyer can get a sense of what the property looks like during the other seasons and we don’t have to worry about bare trees and snow on the ground. Contact a realtor (hopefully our team) and have our professional photographer come take exterior photos after you do your fall cleanup.

In summary, depending on your situation and what your goals are as a buyer or seller, the fall/winter real estate market may present you with a favorable outcome. Every client has different goals, needs and wishes. That is why we are here to assist in any way we can.

If you’d like a question answered in my column, please email to You can also call me directly at 703-960-3100. Visit to learn more about our team and see our current listings.