While most Realtors® don’t associate winter with the busiest time in the industry, research shows clients may benefit from listing their homes in the colder months.
Homes listed in the winter months are 9 percent more likely to sell. Also, homes typically sell a week faster and sell for 1.2 percentage points more relative to list prices than houses listed in the fall, spring and summer, according to Redfin.
Interestingly enough, the data holds true across the country, regardless of climate. The report analyzed 19 markets, including colder-weather places like Chicago and Boston, and homeowners were still more likely to land a sale quickly in the winter. Redfin analyzed homes listed from March 22, 2011, through March 21, 2013.
Daniel Bortz of Time recently released three tips to make selling easier in the winter.
Price It Right
The quieter winter market brings special pricing considerations. Unlike in spring, when there are more shoppers—and it may make sense to price low to try to generate a bidding war—you’re less likely to receive multiple offers.
Winter is also a bad time to test the market and list high. If the house doesn’t sell, you may need to drop below market value to nab a buyer before new properties appear in spring and make yours look stale by comparison.
The upshot: Take a conservative approach and price at market value, real estate broker Peggy Yee of Vienna, Va. advises. Check closing prices of comparable properties sold in the past 30 days, then eye current list prices to make sure your home won’t look overpriced.
Schedule a Tune-Up
Winter buyers are particularly attuned to issues related to heating and maintenance. Get the furnace, HVAC and roof inspected, and make any necessary repairs. Also on your clients’ to-do list: Clean the gutters, change air filters and weather—strip the windows.
Many cold-weather house hunters will also be thinking about heating costs. Clients should consider low-cost upgrades like insulating the attic or installing energy-efficient windows, which can slash utility bills, says Brendon DeSimone, author of Next Generation Real Estate.
Brighten Your Home
Suggest clients warm up curb appeal with basic landscaping, and add inexther plants like holly to invigorate outdoor space. Clients should also fix chipped paint, caulk windows and repair cracked window seals, which can cause condensation that freezes over and creates an eyesore.
And create a sense of warmth throughout the home, starting with the living room, where staging can have the greatest impact, according to a National Association of Realtors report. As always, clients should de-clutter and depersonalize, as well as put away family photographs so that buyers can see themselves living in the home. Clients should instead display pictures that show what the property looks like when the temperature is warmer, like the garden in full bloom or the backyard in the summertime. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean buyers can’t appreciate what the home has to offer year-round.