The clocks have turned back, the sun sets earlier now and a Halloween weekend snow storm reminded all of us that winter is fast approaching. A widely accepted perception is that home sales drop off dramatically during the winter months and it is generally not a great time to list your home. Is this actually the case? If you are thinking of taking your home off the market to ride out the winter, or if you are considering waiting until spring, there are a few things to consider before making that decision.
There are benefits to listing your property throughout the winter:
1. Interest rates are still at historic lows. Lenders can determine what interest rates are currently available to individual customers. Armed with that information, potential homebuyers can search for homes at HoulihanLawrence.com. Each listing features a detail page that includes a mortgage calculator that illustrates what the monthly payment will be. The current lower rates give buyers more spending power, which also may help to sell your home.
2. It is true that there are fewer homes on the market in the winter months than in the summer. This can work to your advantage because less inventory can create more competition and potentially more buyers for your home. An analysis of the number of homes on the market in Westchester in winter versus summer showed that on average, there were 16% less homes on the market winter 2010 versus summer 2010, and 25% less homes on the market winter 2011 versus summer 2011.*
3. It is interesting to note that while the number of listings on the market is lower in the winter months, the percentage of listings on the market vs. sales average 7% for both summer and winter seasons.*
4. Whether you’re in Westchester, Putnam or Dutchess Counties, people need to buy homes all year long, not just in favorable weather. However, the winter months also bring out the most motivated and serious buyers.
An accurately priced property will sell at any time in any season, so here are some tips to consider when your property is listed during the winter season:
- Keep sidewalks and driveways free of ice and snow.
- Make sure rugs are near doorways to catch and snow and salt brought in from outside.
- Curb appeal is still important, but with a snow-covered landscape the emphasis should be on the exterior front door. Make your entry look inviting by keeping it welcoming and clean.
- Raise the thermostat to a comfortable level before buyers come to visit your home. They will spend more time looking around when they are warm than if they are uncomfortably chilled.
- If you have a fireplace, show it off by keeping it clutter free. Consider lighting a fire as long as you plan to be around.
- If you have a fabulous landscape, show it off by supplying photos of your exterior to prospective buyers so they can see what your property looks like during the growing seasons.
It can't hurt to present a warm and inviting atmosphere when showing potential buyers your home in the winter. Providing them with a positive experience can only help you gain an advantage in any season of the year.
Read about a co-worker's experience in selling her home during the Holidays here.
* Source: EAMLS, all properties on the market and sold, Winter 2010 vs. Summer 2010 and Winter 2011 vs. Summer 2011, Westchester County.