Thinking of Putting Your House on the Market During the Winter? Here's What You Need to Know

Winter home selling has its challenges, but it brings advantages, such as less competition and greater availability of people who can help.

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Selling your home always involves a number of variables, among the biggest of which is when to sell. Typically, home sellers list their homes in the spring, expecting to close by early summer. Even though it's more common to sell your property in the spring and summer, listing your home in the winter is worth considering.

The Pros of Winter Selling

First, there are fewer houses to compete against, which means fewer choices for potential buyers.

Many more homes tend to be on the market in the spring and summer than during the winter. This means that your property has a lot more competition. If you opt to sell in the winter, there are fewer properties for people to choose from, making it easier to attract attention from buyers. This can be especially important if something about your home makes it less desirable than similarly priced competition.

You'll also enjoy more attention from realtors and an easier time obtaining appointments from key participants

There is less transaction activity in the winter. Professionals key to the transaction, such as home inspectors, appraisers, stagers, painters, repair people and real estate agents, have greater availability because there is less demand for their services. They may even be motivated to quote a better price for their services and more flexible about when you book.

Winter is a perfect time to highlight the energy efficiency perks your home has; for example, the extra insulation, solar panels and triple-pane windows you invested in may motivate a purchaser. Even in regions traditionally considered milder climates, people have grown more mindful that weather can be extreme, as the disastrous Texas snowstorm of February 2021 demonstrates. The discussion around climate change is also intense, with consumers monitoring their energy use and how it impacts the environment.

The Cons of Selling When It's Cold

Do you really like bundling up and heading out when it's frigid and the roads are awful? How about juggling home preparations on top of Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve planning? This is one of the biggest cons associated with winter selling. You'll have to work really hard to coax people out of their cozy spaces and convince them that the trek to your property is worth it. If you try to sell in winter, you must ensure the photography of your house, which your realtor will post online, is warm and inviting, motivating buyers to visit your house and make an offer.

Unfortunately, creating that elusive "curb appeal" can be challenging. When the days are short and frosty, it's harder to throw on a fresh coat of paint or power wash the siding and deck. You also can't use flowers or outdoor landscaping to make the property feel fresh and alive. Finally, pay critical attention to the path from the prospective purchaser's car to your front door. Clear away any hazards such as snow, ice, leaves or puddles to provide a welcoming feeling.

Despite the increased attention you'll get from real estate and tradespeople, the odds of a bidding war over your property are lower because demand is lower. Offers on your property may not escalate, so you may not be able to sell the property for as much as you would in the spring.

Another obstacle to the winter sale is children's schooling. Selling in the winter can be disruptive if you or the purchaser have children who must move in the middle of the year. Even if they don't have to switch schools, a lot will be happening with the house as they try to concentrate on work and other activities.

Preparing to Sell in the Winter Months

If you decide to sell your home in the winter, preparing well can make the process less stressful and improve the odds of a good offer.

First, do your homework and connect with a good real estate agent. Research your housing market so you have realistic expectations and the information you need to present the home positively to potential buyers. Work closely with your realtor and follow their suggestions for preparing your home. They likely have relationships with tradespeople, photographers and stagers who can help smooth the process. Close coordination with your realtor will keep them apprised of when the house is ready to go from "coming soon" to "listed" to "sold."

Then, start increasing visual appeal. You won't have as many options here as in the summer, but tidy up and declutter inside and outside. Remove anything that doesn't need to be there and give the home a deep cleaning. Consider renting a storage unit. Your realtor will likely suggest painting, depersonalizing (to help your purchaser envision themselves in their new home), switching out lightbulbs for lighter, warmer tones and perhaps even fixing a few items.

Last, stage the house and hire a photographer. Your realtor can recommend a good one and offer tips on the best ways to present and highlight certain assets. Let your realtor coordinate with the photographer to post the images on the agency's site, social media and other traditional marketing platforms.

These steps aim to help prospective buyers imagine themselves in the home. They should be able to see exactly where they'll put their own belongings and how the space will work for them. The better and cleaner the setup of the house is, the better backdrop the real estate agent has to paint a grounded but enticing picture of the buyer's future.

Winter home selling has its challenges, but it brings advantages, such as less competition and greater availability of people who can help. So if you've been thinking about putting your home on the market, don't let the cold stop you. See what options are available in your area and connect with a respected agent to see if winter selling is the right choice for you.

The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

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