The holidays are upon us. Can selling your home in the winter really be feasible especially in snowy, cold areas of the country?
Many homeowners are under the impression that markets slow down during the winter months. That is true is some areas, but for others, it remains strong even as snow flies and temperatures plummet.
“They think the market is strongest in the spring and should wait to list until mid March,” says Brad Gibson, REALTOR for Mel Foster Co. in Bettendorf, Iowa. “However, by doing that, they risk all homeowners thinking the same thing, so the competition will be stronger in the spring. You never know when the buyer for your home will be actively looking, so if you want to sell the best time to list is now.”
Sometimes, your reasons for selling come unexpectedly, such as a new job offer in another area, retirement, or just wanting to move elsewhere.
Here are some tips for making your winter sale come quickly and with a big offer, as well as reasons why it might be a good idea to sell in winter:
1. Winter buyers have extra cash
Year-end bonuses can help with downpayments, so prospective buyers may be able to afford more home at that time of year, Gibson says.
2. Supply shortage could mean higher sales
“The prices may even be higher in the winter months as other sellers want to wait until spring. There is less inventory over the winter months which can drive prices up,” he says.
This type of housing shortage has pushed home prices higher all year. A tighter market could mean even higher offers.
3. Real estate agents work all year round
“I think the most active Realtors’ businesses are steady for most of the year. People buy houses every day of the year, and you can’t sell your home if it is not on the market,” Gibson explains.
Professionals rely on home sales as their source of income. They won’t want to slow down during the winter.
4. Buyers are year round
The really serious home buyers are online at all hours of the day, and they will find your home online if it is for sale, he says.
“And agents treat every home the same no matter what time of year it is. Again, we sell homes everyday of the year,” he states.
5. Stage your home for a winter sale
Staging your home for sale in the winter is no different than staging your home for sale any other time. The pictures that go online should be current though. You don’t want to have a foot of snow on the ground, though, so use a picture of the home in the summer, Gibson adds. It will make the home seem like it has been on the market a long time.
Also, by using a picture of your home during nice weather, you’ll be showing home buyers what they have to look forward to once the weather turns.
If the home is listed during Christmas, the pictures will obviously have decorations in them. Keep the decorations sophisticated and don’t overdo it. You are trying to sell your home, not the decorations.
Once Christmas is over, the interior pictures should be redone without decorations as you don’t want buyers looking at your home online in February or March and see holiday decorations.
6. Winter open house preparation
Make sure the driveway and walkways to the front door are clear of snow and ice. Have people take off shoes or wear booties once inside to view the home.
“I feel it is better to have them remove shoes as snow and water can still leak through the booties,” Gibson says.
7. Curb appeal and indoor ambiance
Outdoor curb appeal to attract buyers becomes a little different during the colder weather. Gibson suggests not having a lot of colored Christmas lights all over the place. They could distract people driving by to look at the home.
Also, it gets darker earlier in the winter, so have your outdoor lights on earlier than you would at other times of the year.
The interior of your home should receive special attention as well. “As with any other time of year, make sure all light bulbs are in working order and allow as much natural light to enter the home for showings,” Gibson adds.
If you have a fireplace, light it for showings. Have every surface clean and fresh just like any time of year.
Be sure to depersonalize and declutter every room. You might even have to buy a few gallons of paint to spruce up those lime green bedrooms.
Completing a winter sale
In busy markets, there isn’t a bad time to sell your home. While not as many home buyers are active during the winter, there aren’t as many sellers. The market should continue to move regardless of what time of year it is.
“If you want to sell your home, put it on the market no matter what time of year it is,” he says.