Don’t shy away from cold weather; listing your home during the fall or winter can bring unexpected advantages.
Many home sellers choose to sit on the sidelines during the colder autumn and winter months and get in the game come springtime, when they expect greater interest from buyers. But with the right preparations, smart sellers can list now and sell quicker than expected, without hibernating through the winter, the experts say.
Many people consider fall and winter as the off season for real estate, with fewer shoppers hunting for homes and fewer listings from which to choose. That shouldn’t necessarily dissuade people from listing their homes during the cold season, though, says Bruce Taylor, president of ERA Key Realty Services in Whitinsville, Mass.
“This year, with a lower inventory level [of homes for sale] than previous years, it should be somewhat easier to sell,” Taylor says. “Our September closings and new pending contracts are the highest in the past 11 years.”
The pool of prospective purchasers may be smaller, shoppers out hunting in fall and winter are usually more motivated and serious, often with a pressing need to close quickly and move in soon due to a job relocation or major life change.
Chris Klebba, broker for RE/MAX Executive at the Lake in Cornelius, N.C., says motivated buyers tend to feel more pressure to pull the trigger on something they like rather than wait for something better to come along.
“These buyers out in the cold looking at homes are not ‘tire kickers.’ They want to buy a home and get moved in now,” Klebba says.
Another advantage to listing now versus later is that there is less competition from other sellers.
“There are fewer houses on the market in the fall and winter, which may lead to more demand for your house,” says Jack Gloriod, owner/agent with The Becky Gloriod Team, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Additionally, “Houses tend to show very well when decorated tastefully for the holidays, and buyers enjoy this,” Klebba says. “And listing and selling in fall or winter could make it so the timing works out for the seller to take advantage of the coming new spring inventory and increase their odds of finding the perfect next home.”
The drawbacks to selling in colder seasons are that showings may interrupt holiday activities, sellers have to be diligent about removing snow and ice from their property for safe visitor access and to increase curb appeal, and real estate prices overall are expected to be lower, which may equate to a lower selling price and more concessions or incentives expected from the seller.
As is true of any time of year, a well staged home has a higher chance of selling closer to the asking price. Gloriod recommends organizing all belongings carefully, festoon with appropriate holiday decorations that don’t make the space appear cluttered, and, during showings, light your fireplace and bake a fresh pie to create a pleasing, festive atmosphere.
He adds that sellers should keep up with outdoor maintenance: “Rake your leaves, shovel the snow and clean out your pool.”
Despite the fact that mortgage interest rates have ticked up higher in recent months, Klebba still anticipates the 2013-2014 “off-season” to be busier than last year in terms of sales.
“Consumer confidence is still high, and that translates into activity,” Klebba says. “And buyers in the marketplace are realizing that values are increasing and the time to buy is now, while interest rates are still reasonable and they can still get a deal on their dream home.”
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