Many sellers remove their home from the real estate market during the winter months. But competition and inventory is lower in the winter, so if you are looking to sell your home, weigh your options. If you decide to keep it on the market or list it for the first time, here is some advice to guide you.
- keep all walkways clear
- keep the thermostat up
- decorate for the holidays
- keep your floors clean
- provide photos of the home in warmer seasons
- accept a regrettable offer
- get discouraged
- take your home off the market in the winter
- assume you have to move out right away
- overprice your home
If you have buyers looking at your home, you certainly want them to have a good impression. Clear all walkways to ensure safe passage and inspection. In addition to safety, clearing walkways shows that you care for the property and it’s well maintained. Two things potential buyers notice and care about.
Keeping the thermostat around 72 degrees can create a warm and inviting atmosphere for buyers. It also demonstrates that your heating system is operational.
Decorating for the holidays can bring fond memories to buyers viewing your home. But there is a fine line between decorating and over decorating. Remember that clutter can kill a sale. Focus your decorations in a few specific spots around your home and keep it clean and simple. One example that can be simple but also seasonal is placing ornaments in a glass container on your dining table. It keeps clutter to a minimum while also being festive.
Adding holiday cheer to your home can show the buyer your home in it’s best light.
During the winter months it’s difficult to keep floors clean. From salt and cinder on the roads to wet snow, it’s easy to track in a mess. Consider requesting all your guests and family members remove their shoes at the door. You can offer a basket of slippers or shoe covers to keep toes cozy during the visit. By reducing the amount of dirt and water that is tracked on the floor you save yourself precious minutes each day that would otherwise be used to mop.
For some buyers it may be difficult to picture flower gardens and landscaping when the yard is under a covering of snow. Provide a few photos of the home when the grass is green. It will help potential buyers imagine themselves in the home long term.
There’s a lot of research that shows home prices are lower in the winter months. Buyers believe sellers are more motivated to sell in the winter. Whatever your reason for listing your home, consider the advice of your real estate agent when determining a listing price. If you receive several low offers you can accept the highest offer. Or, you can hold out until a higher offer comes in. Whichever you do, make sure that you are not making a decision you’ll regret. Consider your options and situation and make the decision to best meet your needs.
Fewer people are focused on the homebuying process during the winter months (think holiday shopping), so showings may be spread out more than if your home was listed in the summer. Don’t let this get you down. If a buyer is looking to purchase a home in the winter months, they are likely motivated in one way or another to buy out of season.
The only buyers you will likely have looking at your home during the holidays are serious buyers – who else wants to add another task to an already busy holiday schedule. Whether they are moving due to a relocation for work, to be closer to an aging parent or for other reasons, these buyers are motivated to find a house.
If you need a few extra weeks in the home after closing, or you want to extend closing until the start of the new year, you may be able to include this term in your negotiations. Let your agent know the ideal move out date in advance so they can work for you to set expectations with potential buyers.
There will be fewer homes on the market during the winter, reducing competition. Don’t let the limited competition trick you into setting your price too high. Talk with your agent, conduct a market analysis and set a price within their suggested range based on data.
Selling your home at a competitive price during the winter months is not out of the realm of possibility. Follow these do’s and don’ts along with your agent’s recommendations to set the right price and create an inviting atmosphere for buyers searching for a home.