Selling a home in the winter is often considered a bad idea, but there can be some unique advantages to selling you’re home this time of the year. Of course, we’re not suggesting that winter is the best time to sell, but sometimes, you don’t get to choose.
With that in mind, we want to help with some strategies, ideas, and tips to help you take advantage of the unique opportunities a winter real estate housing market provides.
The good news is that the colder weather filters out buyers that aren’t serious. These are people who might be interested, but they really aren’t sure. They don’t really know what they want yet, so they’re just “looking” or they have just started the home-buying process and usually start by looking at open houses during the warmer months. The colder weather and shorter days make it more difficult to get out and look at houses and for this reason, there aren’t many of this kind of buyer in the winter.
Winter home buyers 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 a job relocation – whatever the case may be, they mean business, and their hunt for a new home is frequently urgent
The start of a new year is often the start of new jobs. Many companies choose to relocate during the off-peak or winter months to save on moving costs or to avoid the competitive real estate market during the peak season.
These off-peak relocations bring motivated homebuyers who 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, making them great buyers.
Additionally, many of these buyers receive relocation benefits or assistance from their employers. This can also make the negotiations a little easier.
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 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.
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 4 or 5 to choose from.
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. This improves your chances of selling (and again, you’re more likely to get that price you want for your house). While it’s not common, bidding wars over winter home sales are not unheard of, especially for the best homes.
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, they most likely working with fewer people, so 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 in the best and right way.
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.
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 warmer 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.
Successful home selling during the winter season requires a different approach. You won’t likely get a ton of buyer traffic, but the traffic you do get will certainly be serious homebuyers, so you want to make each showing count.
Remember, because of the snowy, cold, and potentially wet conditions, you really don’t want a lot of buyers coming through your house anyway, but as they say, you only need one.
Winter listings need to make a great first impression. This is why it’s important to focus your strategy on pricing and staging.
The winter selling season is no time to be sloppy or unrealistic about your pricing. As we stated previously because there are fewer buyers you won’t have a lot of showings, but the ones you do have will be serious buyers. Because there will be fewer homes available, these buyers will have seen your competition and know very quickly how you’re home stacks up and more importantly, if it’s on their shortlist.
This is why is essential to avoid overpricing and ultimately “Chasing the Market”. Chasing the market occurs when a seller that’s looking to get top dollar for their home starts with an unrealistically high price, if the home doesn’t sell at that price, they start reducing the price until they catch the market. This can take months, and then some unfortunate cases, years.
In most cases, this approach leads to a lower sales price not to mention, additional payments, and lost opportunities for finding your next home.
Pricing a home correctly is crucial for a successful winter sale, make sure to work with a knowledgeable REALTOR® that understands your market. A skilled realtor should provide a Competitive Market Analysis to price the home correctly. The key is to avoid both overpricing and underpricing.
How can you make the most out of Selling Your House in the Winter? Follow these tips, and you well on your way. Also, avoid these winter selling mistakes!
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.