The big real estate question is:
Should you sell your home in the winter, or wait for spring?
By and large, conventional wisdom suggests selling homes in the spring. However, while there are good reasons for this, there are also advantages to putting property on the market in the less competitive off season.
Whether you’re a real estate agent strategizing about the winter market or a homeowner who is ready to sell, there are factors to consider during the cold months of the year.
Everything seems to be more exhausting in the winter, doesn’t it? That’s why it’s so important to ease the burden of your potential buyers as much as possible. Driveways and entry areas should be clean, shoveled, and salted or sanded. This is especially important not only for the sake of appearance but also for safety. The last thing you need is for a potential buyer to take a bad tumble on their way to the door!
No one will fall in love with a home that they can’t properly see. Keeping your home well lit, inside and out, should be a high priority for sellers. With shorter and darker days, natural light will be limited so upgrading light fixtures can be very worthwhile. Consider liaising with a home stager or interior decorator who can help place attractive lamps and fixtures effectively to cast the best light on the property.
We don’t all live in sunny California and in many parts of the United States, winter is the reality for at least one third of the year. When people come in from out of the cold, a warm home will feel more cozy and inviting, as will strategically placed carpets so that people don’t get cold feet when they leave their boots at the door. Be sure to set the temperature at a reasonable level throughout the house at visiting times, and if your home boasts a fireplace, by all means, roast those chestnuts!
Good heating is not just a matter of comfort but also of money. The homeowners should be sure to do all necessary maintenance and repairs to make your home as cozy as possible. Adding insulation or energy efficient windows are excellent selling points, particularly if you’re able to demonstrate the before/after cost difference in heating. It may be helpful to have bills from the past couple of years handy to do so.
Not only should you ensure the temperature is at a comfortable level, it’s important to make the house look and feel warm, emotionally speaking. Take advantage of the season and add some festive touches – sofa throws, colorful candles and towels, pine branches, etc. Consider having hot drinks or treats on hand: treat your buyers as guests!
Remember – you aren’t just selling a property, but the idea of a home. An uncluttered, tastefully decorated space feels welcoming and makes it easier for people to picture themselves in it. Curb appeal is one thing, hearth appeal is another.
No matter what you do with your staging, however, it’s preferable to have good pictures of the property taken in the warmer months. Even if the home is set in the picturesque snow framed by perfectly placed spruce branches, buyers prefer to get the full picture of the property without the snow.
Research and Marketing
While real estate statistics can be helpful, they can in fact be rendered irrelevant by the particular circumstances of the area. For example, it’s common in the first quarter of a new year for companies to relocate employees, or maybe a new school will soon be built close by.
These kinds of changes affect the desirability of an area, so having your finger on the pulse of the local community is more important than anything else. This will allow you to market accordingly, in a specific manner. Every good real estate agent should be able to target new employees moving to the area, for example, or approach the school board for information on the geographical area which the new school will be serving. There are often factors that supersede both the active real estate statistics and the season that you can use to your advantage when selling in the winter.
Pricing and Flexibility
It’s possible that homes may sell at a higher price in the winter due to the fact that the season tends to have more serious buyers, with less inventory to choose from. Then again, buyers may believe that the sellers must be motivated to close a deal if they’re listing in the winter, and therefore, may be more apt to bargain.
Strategic pricing is necessary and flexibility with the closing date is paramount. In some cases, it may be strategic to take the home off the market temporarily during the holidays and then list it again early in the year, so it doesn’t stay listed too long and perhaps raise the suspicion that there is something wrong with the property.
Final tip: Don’t price houses with a zero at the end. For some reason, people perceive a precise price as more daunting, even if the difference is scant. Your penthouse will be more appealing at $299 997 than $300 000. Let the buyer feel that they’re saving a few extra few dollars to buy a pumpkin spice latte. You won’t miss the difference and it could help the overall sale.