Your goal in selling your home should be to command the best price for your property while moving it off the real estate market quickly. As such, you need to time your listing just right to attract prospective buyers.
You're probably aware that many potential buyers do their house hunting in the spring. At that point, the weather is warm and it's easier to get a sense of a home's curb appeal. Summer is another popular season to sell a home -- not only is the weather generally cooperative, but potential buyers' schedules are often more relaxed. And while fall may not be the most popular time to put homes on the market, selling at that point could work out well, since the weather isn't too harsh.
Selling your house during the winter season, however, is a different story. Not only do potential buyers tend to be less motivated due to cold weather, but homes can be more difficult to show off when outside conditions are harsh, and curb appeal can be a tough thing to pull off.
Still, there are pros and cons to listing a home during the winter season. Here are a few you should know about if you're thinking of going that route.
Benefits of selling a home in winter
Though you may encounter some challenges when selling a house during the winter, you'll benefit in the following ways:
1. You'll have less competition
The real estate market tends to be flooded with homes once the weather turns warm. If you try to sell your home during the winter, you won't have the same number of listings and open houses to contend with. And if you live in an area where lots of people are selling, that's a good thing.
2. Buyers may be more motivated to close quickly
Potential buyers who house hunt during the earlier part of the winter often do so for a reason -- to close on their homes before the end of the calendar year, thereby reaping some tax breaks. If you list a home in December, you may find a buyer very quickly.
3. You can use the holidays to boost your curb appeal
It's common practice to decorate homes during the holiday season, and if you do the same, it could be just the thing that charms potential buyers into putting an offer on your house. Of course, you don't need to go crazy with holiday decorations -- but if you put up some lights to spread some holiday cheer, it may put buyers in a better frame of mind.
4. You get an opportunity to show off some of your home's features
If your home features a lovely wood-burning fireplace or a cozy family room, potential buyers are more apt to appreciate those features when they see them during the winter. Furthermore, if your landscaping needs work, or you don't have a particularly large backyard, you can hide those shortcomings more easily during the winter, when they may not be on potential buyers' radar.
Drawbacks of selling a home in winter
On the other hand, there are some pitfalls you may encounter when you try selling your house during the winter:
1. The weather could make showing your house more difficult
Snow may be lovely to look at when it coats your trees and rooftop, but it also makes travel more tricky or hazardous. As such, if you try selling your home when the weather is active, you could run into scenarios where open houses or viewing appointments are canceled due to snow, thereby delaying the process of finding a buyer.
2. Shorter days make nighttime viewings more difficult
Potential buyers who work during the day often rely on evenings to see homes for sale. But during the winter season, the days are shorter, and so after-work visits generally mean viewing a house when there's no natural light coming in. That's a bad thing if natural light is a feature you want to show off, and generally speaking, even a well-lit house is apt to seem dark when it's dark outside.
3. You can kiss curb appeal goodbye
Holiday decorations can make homes look lovely during the winter -- but they need to be taken down eventually. And when your lawn is covered with messy slush and the landscaping efforts you put in during the past spring and summer are nowhere to be seen, it makes your home a tougher sell.
4. Buyers may be hesitant to commit
It's a known fact that the real estate market tends to see lots of activity once the weather warms up and spring arrives. The problem with listing your home in the winter is that potential buyers may hesitate to put in an offer until they can see what other options are available in the neighborhood. Also, if your house is only one of a few homes being sold during the winter, buyers might worry about overpaying, since there's less inventory to compare from a listing price perspective.
Tips for selling a home in winter
Clearly, there are pros and cons to selling homes during the winter. If you're thinking of moving forward with a sale, be strategic about it by doing the following:
1. Price your home competitively. Work with a real estate agent to come up with a price that's reasonable from the get-go so that potential buyers don't have to worry so much about overpaying.
2. Be mindful of weather-related messes. Clear your walkways and driveway after snow falls to avoid slush and slippery spots, which could actually put visitors in danger.
3. Make sure your heating system is up to snuff. The last thing you want is a cold house when a real estate agent brings people by last-minute to take a look at your property.
4. Eliminate drafts. Seal windows that let in cold air.
5. Add brightness. When the weather is dreary, it can impact buyers' moods. Invest in some nice finishing touches that make your home more inviting, like throw pillows or blankets.
6. Make sure your home is well lit. During the spring and summer, house hunters get plenty of daylight to work with. If you're selling in winter, you can compensate by adding extra lighting fixtures.
7. Bake right before an open house. During the summer, buyers are more apt to crave a cold drink than a homemade cookie. During the winter, the smell of something freshly baked can be warm and inviting.
8. Put together a comprehensive video tour. Potential buyers may have a hard time getting out to see properties when the weather is uncooperative. If you produce a solid video tour, they'll get a good sense of what your home looks like so they'll know whether it's worth
visiting in person.
Should you try selling your home during the winter?
Ultimately, selling during the winter has its pros and cons, so you'll need to weigh those to see what makes the most sense for you. And also, think about your own personal timeline. If you're eager to sell your home so you can move during the summer, listing it during the winter could help set that plan in motion.
If you're not sure how well you'll fare selling your home during the winter months, talk to a local real estate agent who's done so in your neighborhood before. Knowing how much previous success sellers have had could help you land on the right decision.