Everyone seems to have 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 that selling a home in the winter is a bad idea.
While it might not be ideal 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 a great time to sell.
Winter Buyers Are Serious and Motivated – Cold and Snow really 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,” You don’t get these people in the winter months.
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 for a new job – 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. 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 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 as the seller 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 more money. The fact is that there are 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 people selling homes in the winter. Most people prime their homes and get ready to sell in the summer. And in the summer, 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 homes to sell. This means they’ll want to sell yours in the winter. Come summer, 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.
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 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.
- If you have a fireplace, turn it on. 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.
- Play Up the Natural Lighting – Winter means darker days – literally. There are fewer daylight hours. So, what do you do? Time your viewings and showings appropriately. Don’t have them scheduled any later than 4 in the afternoon. By 4:30, the sun is down and out. Another tip? Wash your windows before viewings. It can amp up the natural lighting in your home making it more appealing for potential buyers.
- 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. It’s not a great first impression, is it? Make sure to leave a spot by the door for them to take off their winter boots – rubber mats are great for this!
- 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. You have less competition and more serious buyers. So why not? Talk to one of our agents about selling your house.
Here are some additional resources on Selling a House in Winter.
- How to Sell a Home in The Winter – Bill Gassett
- Five Reasons to Sell Your Home in the Winter – Karen Highland
- Best Winter Curb Appeal Ideas from 18 Professionals – Luke Skar