In many parts of the country, selling a home during the winter months can be a challenge. Dreary, cold weather and the end-of-the-year holidays can keep buyers away and heighten fears of your home staying on the market longer than expected. However, there are a few things you can do to enhance “curb appeal.” And when that happens, buyers will take notice.
For example, if your home has been on the market for more than six months, its probably time to change the sales approach. There are several factors that could be reviewed with your real estate agent to determine improvements that can be made. Ask for a reassessment of the sales price; it may be too high for the current market. Also, ask the agent for a new or updated marketing plan and ask for a specific explanation of each activity. Marketing your home goes beyond a few ads in the newspaper and a listing on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS); a good agent will do more to get your home sold.
If your current agent doesn’t respond to your satisfaction, you should contact the real estate broker (the owner of the office) and ask for a different sales agent – or, if you’re no longer under any contractual obligation to the firm, it might be time to change real estate offices entirely.
When setting the asking price through a comparative marketing analysis, compare similar homes sold in the winter months. Many owners set their asking price too high because of comparisons with sales prices during peak seasons. Always try to compare like properties sold at the same time of year.
Once you’ve settled on an asking price, its time to spruce up the interior and exterior of your home. Many real estate agents recommend opening as many curtains as possible to add light and color to rooms. Keep photos of your home during warmer months in full view, show off that yard you work hard to maintain!
Staying on top of winter maintenance and chores is another sure-fire way of adding value to your home. A neatly shoveled driveway and cleared walkway can add a nice touch. Make sure the furnace is in good working condition and that the room temperature is kept at a comfortable level. Also, make sure the leaves are raked and the winter yard is spruced up with some tasteful holiday decor.
Take yourself on a tour of your home. Start in the entry and work your way through the house. More than likely you’ll see many previously undiscovered cluttered spaces and needed repairs that can turn off potential buyers.
You may worry that the holiday season is not a good time to sell your home, but the experts cite many BENEFITS in listing your home during this time:
- Other people are waiting to sell, go ahead and list
- Homes show better when dressed for holiday parties, visitors
- Buyers looking this time of year are motivated and serious
- It is a good time for students to switch schools
- Buyers and sellers can reap tax benefits
- Neighborhoods appear homier
- Interest rates may be lower, allowing buyers to qualify for a larger payment
- Minimal yard maintenance required during winter months
- Potential adverse changes in the market after first of new year
- More inventory in January vying for marketing attention
- Many companies conduct corporate moves at year end
- Buyers have year-end bonuses available for closing costs, etc.
- Easier to find contractors to do repair work
- You might miss the perfect buyer
- People are in the mood to buy during the holidays
- People want to move and be settled before the holidays
Go ahead and put out those decorations but be careful not to overdo it, the buyer should have a chance to see your home in its everyday condition.
The timing of selling your home is really up to you, your needs and your desires. One thing is for sure, people are always in the market for buying a home, no matter what season!