Every year after we change the clocks and we get the first blast of winter weather I get the same question: Should we take our home off the market for the winter? Home sellers think that if their home hasn’t sold by now they are better off taking it off the market and trying again in the spring. That is also why most people don’t list their home during the winter and why spring is most often the choice when listing your home. My answer to this question is always no! I think winter is the most overlooked season for home sellers and buyers.
There are several reasons why I think winter is a good time to buy or sell property. If you are selling your home, inventory is traditionally at it’s lowest during the winter therefore you have much less competition. Since sellers typically try to avoid listing their home in the winter months there are fewer properties on the market and therefore fewer choices for buyers. If you wait until spring, like every other seller, inventory levels are much higher and buyers have many more options making it less likely that you will get an offer. Winter is not the obvious choice for buyers either but people have to move at all times of the year. Death, divorce and job changes happen in the winter months too and buyers sometimes must find a home during the winter. Those buyers are serious buyers, not just tire kickers, so you may not have a lot of showings but typically the ones you have are from people who really need to move. Especially if you have a home that is not necessarily what is a popular style right now, winter is a great time to list your home. Since there are usually fewer options for buyers yours might be the best option of what is currently available. When you are competing with the highest inventory levels in the spring and summer it may be tougher to snag a buyer. Also, during the winter holiday season, most homes look especially enticing with the holiday decorations. Walking in to a warm, cozy home with a fire in the fireplace and a Christmas tree all lit up gives a buyer a feeling of home that you just can’t get in the spring or summer!
If you are a buyer who needs to move during the winter you might be in luck too! While it is true that there are fewer properties to choose from, what is on the market are typically homes that the sellers want sold now. If there is no hurry to sell on the sellers’ end, they typically wait until warmer weather to hit the market. A buyer might get a much better price by opting to move at a time when there aren’t many buyers out looking. Sellers tend to look much more seriously at offers that come in over the winter months since there aren’t usually many of them. The other bonus for buyers this time of year is that you get to see homes during the season when most problems with the property are more obvious. House hunting in the winter is a great time to see how efficient the heating system really is and how drafty the doors & windows are. It is also a time when most homes are pretty closed up so if there are lingering
odors, like pet or smoking odors, they are much more apparent than in the spring and summer when doors and windows are open.
Although the winter months are traditionally not the prime selling season in real estate, don’t overlook these benefits if you are looking to buy or sell. Sometimes being different than the crowd can have it’s advantages so think twice before taking your home off the market for the winter, you just might be the smart seller that gets a sale!