In my opinion, I see the 'Spring Market' as being the time of increased activity in the early Spring months. This is mostly due to the weather in New England - but is also influenced by people wanting to be settled by the end of the school-year in order to be prepared for the upcoming school year (assuming a different district/town/etc). Another factor driving the so-called Spring Market is the fact that some sellers and buyers don't want to be bothered during the 'holiday season'. Also, many sellers feel that their house looks a lot prettier when the flowers are in bloom. Buyers, I feel, like to be able to see the roof, foundation, landscaping (...is there any grass under all of this snow?), etc. Thus the increase in activity.
In the 18 years of selling homes in North Central MA, the 'Spring Market' starts anywhere from around President's Day (now) and can last through May. Mostly it is dependent on the weather. However, there are other factors that come into play as well (such as interest rates, overall economy, job markets, gas prices, mortgage market shut-down, etc.).
It may last for 3+ months, or may be just several weeks depending on those factors, and who knows what else?
When asked when the best time to buy or sell is? I always answer "Whenever You Are Ready".
Why? Because In the winter there are less buyers competing for homes. And anyone who is driving through 6" of snow to see a house is most likely a Real Buyer!
Also, the sellers that are out on the market are 'serious' sellers. If they are willing to show their house, while many "take theirs off for the holidays", they are serious sellers.
Here's something that I see many sellers don't realize: They wait until Spring because there will most likely be more buyers - and their house looks SO PRETTY with the flowers...
What they fail to see is that with the increase in the quantity of buyers, there is also an increase in the amount of inventory (competing homes) which also have PRETTY flowers.
In the past 2 Springs, the amount of increase in inventory surpassed the amount of buyers.
Hopefully this Spring will be better than the last two. Given the low Mortgage Rates (for those who can qualify) and the beaten up prices, I see this to be a great time to buy - as long one has at least a 2 year perspective or more. The 'quick $' will be hard to come by for a while, as I see it.