There is no shortage of advice and opinions when it comes to buying and selling homes. Sometimes these opinions are based on perceptions that sound good but don’t relate to real-world experience. One such opinion is the conventional wisdom that says selling a home in the winter season is a bad idea. There are actually benefits to selling your home in the winter that you may not realize.
While it might not be as ideal as warmer months for reasons that have more to do with convenience and comfort, homes do sell in the winter and a case can be made that it is actually the best time to sell.
Winter Buyers Are Serious and Motivated
Cold weather filters out those buyers that aren’t serious. You know those people, they might be interested, but they really aren’t sure. They don’t know what they want, so they’re just “looking”. These potential home buyers would be visiting open houses, but there aren’t many of those this time of year.
Prospective home buyers in the winter months are serious, motivated, and ready to buy. Often, it’s because they have to. Maybe their current living situation abruptly changed or they had to move because of job changes – whatever the case may be, they mean business, and their hunt for a new home is frequently urgent.
January is a Big Month for Job Relocations
The start of the new year is often the start of new jobs. Large corporations tend to make their personnel changes and relocations at the beginning of the year. January relocations bring motivated homebuyers, these people are looking to get situated quickly.
The goal is usually to move once, not again in the spring. These people are looking to get their kids in school and their lives back on track, this makes them great buyers. Additionally, many of these buyers receive relocation benefits or assistance from their employers. This can make the negotiations a little easier.
Some Houses Show Better in the Winter
Some homes just have that warm cozy feel, maybe it’s the style of decorating, the holiday season, or perhaps the architecture but these houses inspire buyers more during the winter months. Big fireplaces invite buyers to imagine sitting in front of them on a cold winter night. This sort of inspiration doesn’t happen during the summer months.
While you’re embracing the winter months, it is important that you keep the sidewalks and driveway clear of both snow and ice. Navigating through cold slippery snow and ice can bring a bit of cold reality to the homebuyer that you don’t want.
You’ll Get Closer to Your Asking Price
Unless you’ve completely missed the boat on pricing your home correctly, selling in the winter can get you a higher price. The fact is that there is less inventory, and fewer choices for buyers during the winter months. If your home is priced competitively and shows well, winter buyers will be less likely to try and negotiate the price down. Since they have fewer options, they are less likely to risk losing out on a good home at a fair price. During the more active and competitive summer months, buyers are more likely to have a couple of properties they are interested in, so they feel more compelled to negotiate the price and conditions.
Fewer Homes on the Market = Less Competition
There are fewer properties on the market in the winter. Most home sellers prime their homes and get ready to sell in the spring market, at this time of year, the market is saturated. Potential buyers have possibly 30-plus homes to choose from. Yet, in the winter months, they might have only 5. Fewer options mean you have less competition. In fact, the inventory of homes falls almost 20% in some places during the fall-to-winter transition. It bumps up your chances of selling (and again, you’re more likely to get that price you want for your house).
You’ll Be Your Real Estate Agent’s Top Priority
In the hectic summer months, your real estate agent might be stretched thin. Maybe it’s tough getting an appointment or perhaps you just don’t feel like your home is getting enough attention. This isn’t a problem in the winter.
Winter is technically their slow season. Real estate agents are looking for winter listings. This means they’ll want to sell yours in the winter. Once the spring market arrives, they’ll be loaded down with a bunch of clients. Right now, you’re their top priority. You’ll get more attention – meaning your home will be listed in all the right places. And it will definitely be showcased the best and right way.
Your Neighborhood Looks Better
Christmas lighting and decorations just make a neighborhood look more friendly and welcoming. According to the New York Post, one in five Americans is going to extreme lengths to outdo their neighbors for the holiday festivities this year. This is great news for home sellers, even your neighbors are helping. You don’t see this type of advantage in the warmer spring, and summer months.
Tips for Winter Selling
How can you make the most out of these winter benefits? We’ve got you!
- Place for shoes: You don’t want potential buyers walking through your house with snowy shoes or boots. Place area rugs or mats for them to place their shoes on. It’s also a good idea to have disposable booties available, as well as a bench or chair, if there is room for one, so a visitor can sit and easily change shoes or boots.
- Make your home warm and inviting – The outside is cold and a tad dreary most of the winter. The best way to show off your home is by making it cozy, warm, and welcoming. Use technology like a smart thermostat to control your heating system, make sure your home’s temperature is set to an ideal spot so that your potential buyers warm up as soon as they step inside. Once the showing is complete you can remotely turn the temperature back down in order to save money. You also need to make sure it’s not too hot. Too hot feels stifling and uncomfortable. Remember the buyers are most likely already dressed for outside. Just keep the inside comfortable, 65 degrees is a good place to start. You can show off your home’s energy efficiency in your marketing materials, not by cranking up the heat.
- Turn on the fireplace. Also, if you have “throw blankets” or pillows, put them on display. It will make your home a welcoming sight when coming in from the cold outdoors.
- Sniff-out odors: Holiday cooking, pets, and yes people, all create odors. Buyers want to buy your house, not your smells. Clean and vacuum more often when selling your home in the winter months. Fragrances and candles are fine but remember, less is more. Don’t mask odors with overbearing products, they just make it seem like you’re hiding something, and this is the last thing you want.
- Play up the natural light: Winter means darker days – literally. There are fewer daylight hours. So, what do you do? Time your viewings and showings appropriately to get the best possible light. Don’t have them scheduled any later than 4 in the afternoon. By 4:30, the sun is down and out. You can also swap out your existing lights with brighter bulbs. Another tip? Wash your windows before viewings. It can amp up the natural lighting in your home making it more appealing for potential buyers.
- Curb appeal is still important during these colder months. Your front door should get buyers excited about what’s behind it. A fresh coat of paint or stain goes a long way in creating a strong first impression. You can also spruce up the front porch area. Add new address numbers, maybe some new outdoor lighting fixtures, or a new doormat. Small changes like this can make a big difference.
- Snow removal is important. Don’t forget to shovel and lay down salt, if someone coming to view your house slips on the way in, trust us – that’s likely all they will remember from your home. Make sure the driveway stays clear of snow and ice. Once the fresh snow is driven or walked on, it gets difficult to keep it clear, so stay ahead of the snow. Make sure to leave a spot by the door for them to take off their winter boots – rubber mats are great for this!
- Don’t forget the garage: Home sellers often use the garage for the storage of their belongings after they declutter their homes. The colder winter months just make moving stuff into the garage easier than moving it to off-site storage. Don’t forget a potential homebuyer will look in the garage. If it’s bursting at the seams, it could keep you from getting the best price possible.
- The front yard? Yes, it sounds counterintuitive but it does matter. While most areas won’t have green grass this time of year, they won’t be covered with snow either. This usually leaves you with a nasty, yellowish-brown front yard. Do the best you can with it in terms of trimming, edging, and raking out leaves and other debris. Buyers don’t expect lush green lawns, but they do expect, neat, and well maintained.
- Clean, Clean, Clean! – Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean up and de-personalize your house. There’s no bigger turn-off than a messy house. And putting away your personal items allows the potential buyer to imagine themselves living in the space.
So, go ahead – sell your home in the winter! You have nothing to lose. And it could really improve your chances of selling your home. Yes, there are fewer potential buyers but you will be in a less competitive real estate market and should find more serious prospective buyers. Housing inventory levels should also be at seasonal lows which can only help. So why not? It could be the perfect time to sell, so talk to one of our agents about selling your house.
Source: springshomes.com ~ Image: Canva Pro