Do you own a home or investment property that you would just love to sell in order to buy another house or to free up some capital? Would you love to get it sold now but you think December, January and February are the wrong months to put it on the market?
We hear customers all the time who say things like “We’re thinking of putting the house on the market in the Spring”. “Yes,” I think, to myself, “you and all your competition”. There are a lot of myths about selling a house in the Winter, ranging from “Nobody is shopping for houses in January” to “I don’t want to move in bad weather”.
Here are a few reasons why I believe the Winter might just be exactly the right time to put a house on the market:
• Real Buyers– Buyers who make the effort to go look at homes in the Winter months are usually serious Buyers who are qualified and motivated to buy a house. A Buyer who goes out in the cold to tour properties generally has real intent to make a purchase. In the Summer, you will find a lot of folks looking at houses who are just “testing the waters”, or may have a house to sell before they can buy their next one, but who still want to see what’s “out there” in case theirs ever does sell. Open Houses in the Summer get more Open House hobbyists and nosy neighbors who were just out for a walk and decided to stop in and see what they need to do to their own house before they sell it.
• Corporate Transferees– January is the #1 time for employees to be transferred. These Buyers have a limited time frame, and they are highly motivated to get a house so they can get their family settled. Accommodate these Buyers and their showings, even if it is snowing out.
• Life Goes On– Life doesn’t stop just because it is Winter. Folks get married, have babies, get divorced, gain inheritances, etcetera in January as much as they do in June. These people want and need houses to choose from, and they don’t necessarily want to wait until Summer to find one.
• Your Home Will Stand Out– You will have much less competition. There is less inventory on the market in the Winter, and many of the homes have been on the market since last Summer and have not sold yet due to price or condition. Active Buyers are bored with these properties which they have already seen and dismissed, and they are looking for new listings. Putting your house on the market in the Winter means you will have lots less competition. You might be competing with 50 homes in the Spring, whereas you may be one of 10-20 in the off-peak months.
• Times Have Changed– Buyers are doing most of their house hunting online. The Winter months mean they are indoors, spending more time online looking at pictures on their computers, tablets, and phones. Where Buyers used to cruise neighborhoods they like looking for signs, now they are doing most of their research online. The old theory of bad weather hindering Buyer’s searches just is not as relevant as it once was. Be online with great pictures and video to capture that frustrated Buyer who wants to buy but is still waiting for the right house to appear on the market.
• Weather Worries– We hear “I don’t want to deal with the mess from the snow”. It turns out, around here we don’t actually have that many days with snow on the ground. In my market, we only average 12 days of snowfall a year. Why put off getting a house sold because there might be a few days of weather? It rains in the Spring, too, and wet feet make as much a mess as snowy ones. Put up a sign asking visitors to remove their shoes, or simply restrict showings for the few days there actually is snow.
• Be The Center Of Attention– The transaction itself will go more smoothly, and your support staff will have more time and less distractions. We have the same number of appraisers, lenders, title companies, and inspectors in the Winter as we do in the Summer, but they are much less busy. If you sell your home in the Winter you will be likely to get more individual attention from your Agent and these other people vital to the transaction since they have less files to deal with. Plan on fewer delays from underwriters, too.
• You Look Marvelous– Houses look great decorated for the Holidays. Your curb appeal with some tasteful decorations may increase, and your home will be cozy and inviting when decorated for the season inside. This is a perfect time to highlight that fireplace you fell in love with, or the replacement windows and insulation you may have invested in.
• Money Matters– Rates are still low, and Buyers are anxious to get locked in before they rise. It is expected that today’s 4% mortgage will increase to 5% by this time next year. (5 Housing Market Predictions From Realtor.com) This means your house is affordable to more Buyers now than it will be in a year, so while wait until the pool of qualified buyers shrinks due to rising interest rates? A 1% increase in rates translates to a 10% decrease in buying power.
• Take Advantage of Tax Considerations– Investors are often needing to spend money on Real Estate before the tax year ends. Negotiate a better deal on your end with these time-sensitive Buyers.
• Realistic Buyers Mean Less Hassle– Negotiations may be easier and/or more profitable. Since everyone in the deal is highly motivated, there is less chance that the negotiations will get bogged down in little details like disputes over which appliances stay, repairs needed, or personal property. With fewer homes to choose from, you have a stronger position from which to negotiate than if there are a lot more homes just like yours out there for the Buyer to make an offer on instead.
So, maybe some of those reasons may get you to reconsider your position on waiting for Spring to sell that house. Why not go ahead and call your trusted Real Estate advisor and see what they think your odds are of selling before the competition heats up with the weather?
We’re ready to get to work for you!