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An Underused Home Sales Tool: Autumn Leaves

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Fall is not usually seen as the hot season for buying and selling homes. Spring holds that honor. But, in fact, certain types of buyers are afield in the fall, and this fall could be busier than many.

Spring is the premier season for real estate sales because it leaves time for families to relocate in the summer, before school starts. And, of course, many homes look their best amid green leaves and flowers. Summer's too hot for trudging from home to home, and winter days too short and cold.

But many homes do look wonderful surrounded by fall colors. Moreover, single people and couples without children don't worry about school schedules, says HSH.com, the housing data firm. Average home prices are typically lower in the fall than in the spring, because buyers without children buy smaller homes, HSH says. (Fall is the bigger selling season in Florida and Arizona, pushed by "snowbirds," mostly retirees trying to beat winter.)

New jobs or transfers force some people to move in the fall even if it's not their first choice. And HSH says many people who must move, or want to, feel a rush to resettle by the holidays. Others want to lock in the tax benefits of home ownership before year-end -- getting a few months of mortgage interest deductions, for instance.

HSH cites a survey by ERA Real Estate showing the breakdown of fall buyers:
¿ 27% first-timers
¿ 20% people trading up
¿ 17% downsizers, mainly retirees
¿ 14% investors
¿ 11% military relocations
¿ 6% vacation homes
¿ 5% other categories

So the seller who missed the spring shouldn't give up and wait until next year, especially if the home is suited to singles or people without kids.

And this fall there's another factor. Many experts are now firmly convinced that the housing market has started to rebound. Sales and price are up, and home-builder stocks are rising, reflecting a great deal of optimism.

What will it take to keep that optimism going?

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