Though the weather outside may be frightful, selling a home during the challenging winter months can actually end up being quite delightful. This U.S. News article from Jeff Brown offers some reasons why.
When it comes to buying or selling a home, conventional wisdom dictates that winter is lousy timing. You can’t show or see a home at its best when the weather is crummy.
Sellers face a shortage of buyers, and buyers find there aren’t enough homes to choose from. Considering that a home is a big piece of your investment portfolio, one would think it’s a difficult season to enter the real estate market.
Except that isn’t necessarily so.
If a job change or new baby forces you into the real estate market in winter, or that’s when the itch to move happens to strike, you may find that conditions aren’t as bad as you’d thought – and there might even be an upside.
Serious buyers, motivated sellers. “There are many benefits to keeping your home on the market during this perceived downtime,” says Rhonda Duffy of Duffy Realty of Atlanta. Among the most important, she says, is a fact that distinguishes real estate from almost all other markets: “It only takes one interested buyer, and you might miss the opportunity if you pull the listing during this time of year.”
For obvious reasons, winter is a bigger negative in the North.
“In New York City and the Northeast, spring still remains the best time for selling your home quickly and for a competitive price,” says Sam Heskel, president of Nadlan Valuation, an appraisal firm in Brooklyn. But he does note an upside for sellers: There are fewer tire-kickers in winter, when people don’t buy unless they have a compelling reason. “Sellers typically find that off-season buyers may be more focused and ready to buy a home,” he says.
Take advantage of the snowbirds. Winter is less of a negative in the South, and can in fact be the best time to buy or sell in winter vacation areas like Florida or the Rockies, says Debbie DiMaggio, a Realtor and author in Piedmont, California. “Selling a home during the winter season in Aspen, Vail or Whistler, for example, might be an opportune time, while skiers and snowbirds are on holiday,” she says.
Interest rate hikes are around the corner. Another reason to consider buying or selling this winter is the series of interest rate hikes the Federal Reserve is expected to start in December. Although the pace is likely to be slow, mortgage rates could start drifting up. As a buyer, you wouldn’t have as much to spend if rates were higher. That means that as a seller, you might have a hard time getting top dollar.
“The fear of a mortgage rate increase will be one of the biggest drivers of winter purchases this year,” says Doug Perlson, founder of RealDirect, a discount real estate brokerage in New York.
Holiday baking. If you’re in the North, bare trees and dirty snow will indeed detract from your home’s curb appeal, so experts say it’s especially important to make the inside as inviting as possible.
Old standards like a roaring fire or the smell of baking cookies can enhance winter appeal. The thermostat should be set at a comfortable level, even if the house is vacant, and the driveway and walkways should be well-shoveled. Your listing should include lots of spring and summer photos. Some tasteful holiday decorating makes sense, too.