It’s one of real estate’s most enduring mantras: If you want to list your house, you should sit out the winter season and let it hit the market in the spring instead. But like so many things in life, finding the best time to sell a house or list that Boston, MA real estate is more complicated.
“The general school of thought — and it most often proves to be correct — is that listing your home in the spring market will reap the biggest benefit,” says salesperson Brad Malow of Douglas Elliman in New York, NY. “But late winter may actually be a prime time for coming to market as well.”
Here are seven reasons why you shouldn’t wait until the ground has thawed to hammer in that For Sale sign.
1. Less inventory = more attention
Because everyone thinks they shouldn’t list their property under threat of snow and ice, there are very few homes to buy at the start of a new year. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still potential buyers on the prowl. And if your house is the only game in town, you’re likely to have a lot more interest than in spring when the market is saturated.
“If there’s a shortage of desirable inventory, which often means a plethora of buyers waiting on the sidelines, a seller may experience multiple-offer situations whenever they choose to list,” says Malow. With fewer options, traditionally nit-picky home shoppers are more likely to forgo their “must-have” list and give your place a more open-minded look.
2. First-quarter job relocations
Companies tend to place and/or relocate their workers during the first quarter of the new year. This means that every winter, there is an assured populace that’s looking for a new home, quickly. And good news for your asking price: This group often has some credited moving expenses to burn through. If you live close to a large corporation, ask your real estate agent how to target the new employees coming to town.
3. A locked-in real estate agent
Your real estate agent is relatively idle during the frosty months, a drag from their perspective but a boon from yours. And fewer clients means greater motivation to move the properties they represent. They also have more time and energy to focus on your cause, whether it’s finessing your online listing or talking you off the ledge when the selling process becomes challenging or stressful.
4. No landscaping, no problem
Listing your place in the spring or summer means keeping up with the landscaping (curb appeal!), which can be arduous. You’ll need to invest some time and money into new plantings and possibly a little sod, or at the very least, some potted plants and lawn maintenance. And if your landscaping is actually a selling point, the pruning responsibilities are even greater. You’ll need to trim the hedges, tend the flowers, and otherwise make sure your curbfront property and backyard are up to snuff at every possible moment.
In wintertime, though, the living is easy. If there’s snow, you shovel — that’s pretty much it. No after-work and weekend hours toiling to maintain your outdoor space, and no stresses about its supposed inadequacies.
5. A lighter footprint, literally
Overall, there are quite likely fewer buyers on the prowl during the winter months — more focused and more motivated, yes, but undeniably fewer. Consider this a blessing. Fewer showings means fewer people stomping through your home, tracking dirt and mud all over your carpets as they open your medicine cabinets and peek into your closets.
It also means fewer open houses, which can take hours of preparation and don’t always pay off. If you do have a winter open house, you’ll also probably have more motivated visitors — there are very few window-shoppers during the cold-weather months, so you’re not going to see your neighbor’s son’s friend meandering over to report back on your recent kitchen reno.
6. A faster home sale
It’s counterintuitive but true: Homes actually sell more quickly in the winter months, even in cold-weather cities like Chicago, IL. There’s no general consensus on exactly why this is true, although low inventory is quite likely a big part of it. Also? In winter, most people just don’t want to slog through showing after showing. Instead, they want the buying process to be over and done with, and so they’re more willing to pull the trigger.
7. A higher listing price
Another surprise: Statistics show that homes actually sell at a slightly higher price in winter. This owes to several less mysterious factors. For starters, your real estate agent is going to be more adamant about pricing the property just right out of fear the home will languish on the market until spring. (If a property price reflects both the current market and the surrounding neighborhood, that home is more likely to go under agreement at a favorable price.) Motivated buyers might also submit a price that’s too good to refuse. Finally, a fear of rising mortgage rates — rates tend to go up in the spring — might cause a buyer to be more willing to pay a higher price upfront. Whatever the reason, it’s a happy discovery for many people who finalize a home sale when the weather outside is frightful.