Any real estate agent will tell you that fall/winter is the worst time to put your home on the market. Home sales do happen during this time, but home buyers, on the whole, seem to be more interested in purchasing during the spring and summer.
In fact, a Zillow study revealed that the best time of the year for home sellers is mid April through May. They discovered that, on average, homes listed during this time sold nearly three weeks faster than homes listed during any other time of the year. Because the homes sold faster, the sellers made more money on each sale, one percent or $1,700, to be exact.
Other findings confirmed that fall and winter are worst for sellers. In the fall, school and the holiday season are just getting started. People are very busy and money is tighter. In December through March, tight finances from the holiday season deter the typical home shopper. Plus, the cold deters many potential buyers.
According to Time Magazine, the market is in the buyer’s favor December through February, not the seller’s. The market is down and sparse competition drives lower prices. It’s not very good news for sellers vying for the best possible home price.
“Fewer buyers are willing to house-hunt during cold, nasty weather, so there’s less competition and few, if any, bidding wars,” the Time article says. “Sellers also tend to be more motivated than they will be in the spring, when there are more buyers. Why? They may have just received their credit card bills that reflect Christmas spending and may be feeling financially insecure. And their decision to try to sell their houses in the winter means they’re willing to risk listing during a time of the year when properties tend not show particularly well.”
All of this makes winter a risky time to list your home. When there are minimal interested parties and viable offers, the seller often feels desperate. They may accept an offer that’s far below market value, even for the winter.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of desperate sales in the winter when you want to sell your house and move on. But you don’t have to take a poor deal just because the market is in the buyers’ favor. There are ways to make your property flourish, even in the dead of winter.
Prep the home for winter guests.
When interested buyers visit your property, they’ll likely be bundled up for cold weather. In Texas, we don’t see a lot of snow, and the temperatures remain mild, but people will still arrive wearing coats, hats, and boots. Prep your entryway with a coat rack for hanging winter gear.
Clean booties to wear over their shoes so they don’t track mud, snow, or dirt throughout the house will also improve first impressions. Otherwise, you’ll be constantly cleaning, and the dirt will leave a bad impression on potential buyers, even if it was their fault.
To create a warmer, more welcoming environment, set your thermostat to a temperature of 72 degrees (and 74 degrees is preferable). If you have a fireplace, light a fire as well. When tenants come in from the cold, they should feel enveloped in warmth, emotionally attaching them to the property.
It’s all about the staging.
Spending a few thousand dollars to stage the home might seem steep, but it will improve first impressions and make buyers more likely to offer the full asking price rather than negotiating. You need every ounce of creativity and pull to get offers for your home. Staging gives it that lived-in, cozy feel that people crave in the winter. It will generate an emotional response and bring in offers.
In the winter, staging involves the usual attractive furnishings and art, with some important winter touches. For example, you might have steaming mugs of coffee or hot cocoa on the counter when potential buyers arrive. The sight and smell of warmth in a cup will generate a fast emotional response, and who doesn’t love a free cup of coffee in the winter?
Don’t forget about the exterior when staging, either. It’s tempting to put away the snow shovel or forget about pruning the hedges when you’ve moved on from the house, but the landscaping is always a key factor in selling a home. Keep your landscaping attractive and fresh, even if the trees and grass look dead.
Be more available for showings.
You’ll definitely generate less interest in your home during the winter than other times of the year. For that reason, you’ll often deal with flighty buyers. They may contact you to see the home, but if you cancel on them once, you risk the chance that they won’t reschedule.
You can’t let the opportunity to show your home pass by, especially if you’ve put effort into staging and creating an emotional response in your home. Buyers often must visit a home in person to feel a connection, and if you aren’t readily available for showings, that can’t happen.
If you’re unable to clear your schedule or be home for a showing, give the real estate agent the right to enter your property. If you’re still living there, keep it clean at all times, with dishes done, beds made, and floors picked up. Your realtor could drop by anytime with a potential buyer, and you want them to see the home at its best.
Show what the house looks like in the spring and summer.
If you know you’re planning to sell your home, get quality pictures taken of the outside in the spring and summer. Your plants will be in full bloom and the home will be bright. When you post these photos rather than a winter photo, you’ll get far more attention from serious buyers.
Along with posting these photos to your online listings, display them around the home during showings. They can’t see the exterior in its full glory during the winter, but they can still fall in love if they can see an accurate photograph.
Let Green Residential Help You Sell Your Home This Winter
Selling your home in the winter has its challenges, but the realtors at Green Residential can make things much easier for you. We specialize in home sales in Houston and Katy, and our mild winters make selling your home a breeze.
We’re a unique realty firm in that we ask for a flat fee rather than a percentage of your home sale, which can save you big in the long run. For more information about what our experienced and talented realtors can offer you, contact us today!