As promised, here is the “pros and cons” post about listing and selling your home during the winter season. This is going to be a good news, bad news, good news kind of post and by good news, I mean one piece of good news that kind of wraps around all the bad news. Think of it like a nice burrito, stuffed full of some pretty big fixings. Yes, it is common knowledge that winter is probably not the industry’s best season, but some sellers don’t have a choice. Many find themselves in those moments of grand upheaval that necessitate a move and a home sale. Still others are willing to take the risk of listing during the winter to take advantage of that one great big “pro” I referenced above.
So, here it is… the one, big positive to listing your home is the winter is this: Very few homeowners are doing it. Now, don’t let this scare you off. What this means is that you have less competition; buyers have less to choose from and a carefully maintained and marketed home can and will sell during cold winter months.
Realtor lore maintains that buyers are cash poor after the holidays and therefore less likely to “splurge” on a home upgrade. Additionally, cold and dreary weather does not entice buyers to get out there for pleasure shopping. However, every good real estate professional knows that there are ways to turn these negatives into positives. Here’s what I tell my clients who list their homes from December – February:
1. Market your home with snow-free pictures. If you know in October that you’re going to list in January, take exterior photographs during those beautiful autumnal months. Search your photo albums (online and otherwise) for spring and summer shots and use those photographs in marketing brochures and flyers. Even if your home’s exterior is a bit barren during the cold months of winter, potential buyers can see past that with pictures that provide a window in their landscaped future.
2. Even with leaf-less trees and brown grass, it is imperative to maintain your lawn and gardens. Make sure that leaves, dead tree branches and deciduous shrubs are raked, removed and pruned. Beef up your exterior entry way with a new welcome mat, twinkling porch lights and some topiary urns. Make sure that driveways, sidewalks and porches are always snow and ice free.
3. Staging, staging, staging. It’s more important than ever to stage the interior of your home if you hope to sell it in winter. Cold weather means that potential buyers will spend more time indoors than out, so you want to make sure you’ve de-cluttered, depersonalized and made all necessary repairs. Have windows cleaned inside and out and consider freshening rooms with new coats of neutral colored paint.
4. Make sure you use ambient lighting to showcase your home to its maximum potential. When it gets dark at 4:30, light lamps in each and every room to give your home a warm and inviting glow. Replace 40 watt bulbs with 75 watt versions. You want to create a light and airy atmosphere with lots of sparkle.
Bottom line: don’t panic if you have to sell your home during the winter season. Just as you are motivated my necessity to sell, there will be buyers motivated by similar necessity to buy. Set a realistic price, work with a seasoned real estate professional and take advantage of the slower season to sell your home in winter. Then curl up in front of your fire with a warm cup of tea and celebrate a successful sale!