As with every decision in life there are pros and cons, and choosing when to buy or sell a home is no different. Many homeowners believe selling a home during the winter months is not a good idea and that spring is the best time to sell. This isn’t exactly true. Certainly most real estate markets across the country experience a spring rush, however, the winter season may be a good fit for many reasons.
Selling a Home in the Winter
Traditionally, the winter home buying season isn't very busy because most buyers scoop up properties during the spring and summer, leaving only a select few for the colder months. The fewer number of comparable homes for sale, the greater the probability a buyer will look at your home. Simply put, it’s supply and demand. If there are fewer homes to choose from, the demand for your home has just increased. Not only will less competition increase the probability for showings, but it will also increase the probability that an offer will be received and you will get the maximum amount of money for your home.
Serious Buyers Are Out There
Homes are sold and bought 365 days a year, but serious buyers will continue to look at homes no matter what time of year it is. Buyers looking during the winter months are motivated buyers. These motivated buyers might have a pressing matter that is pushing them to close on a house quickly – particularly before the weather conditions become even more challenging. It’s also about quality vs. quantity. For an example, if one home needs the carpet replaced and another already has brand new carpet, most buyers will choose the latter home.
The Best Real Estate Agents are Up to the Challenge
As a seller, you need an experienced real estate agent to help you reach your goals. Selling during the winter can pose unique challenges, but also unique opportunities. A good real estate agent will know how to adapt to the current season and market their listings to reflect that. They can also help with suggestions and tips on how to sell a home during the winter season.
Staging for the Holiday Season
Many real estate professionals believe proper staging is one of the primary reasons a home sells. While staging certainly helps, many buyers still have a hard time envisioning themselves in a home no matter how it looks. However, there are some buyers who can easily be "sold" on a home because of the staging. Simple seasonal staging such as adjusting the color of the decor or having an aroma in the air relative to the time of year can go a long way with some buyers and possibly be the difference between a home selling or not. And during the winter months, most homes are prepared and decorated for the holidays to show off the warmth and approach-ability of the home.
Buying a Home in the Winter
Winter Could be a Perfect Time to Buy
Just as with selling in the winter months, buying can also have its perks; inventory is lower, buyers come out in smaller numbers, and sellers may be motivated because of a job move or life change and could be more willing to negotiate. All that adds up as an opportunity for the buyer to save money.
Take Advantage of the Mild Weather
The cool weather could also offer a better buying experience. Many people don’t like shopping for homes during the heat of the summer months because driving and walking around in hot weather is just not fun! Take advantage of the milder weather and explore homes and neighborhoods rather than just driving by or sweating through a day of showings.
Winter Season Pricing is Down
Seasonal home prices are typically lowest in January and February, meaning home buyer affordability is at its highest. Increased home affordability means: 1) it costs less to buy now than it will in spring or 2) you can buy more house (more square footage, higher level of finish, better condition and a more desirable location) for the same amount of money.
For buyers and sellers, during the winter months there are fewer real estate transactions than there are in the spring time. The fewer number of transactions means the mortgage lenders have fewer loans to process, title and escrow companies have less closings, and home inspectors have fewer inspections. All of these factors should lead to a quicker transaction and closing for all the parties involved. In the end, the best time to buy is when a seller is motivated to sell, and the best time to sell is when a buyer is motivated to buy.