Sure, the housing market cools with temperature, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a competitive offer. A lot of your foot traffic, like any house listing during any season, depends on how well you market your house.
People are thinking a little differently in the wintertime, though. For example, cold weather seasons have shorter days and inclement weather that sticks around. This drives the desire for cozier homes and well lit rooms, among other things.
Over half of buyers find their homes online initially, so it’s extremely important to aim for achieving the maximum reach. This article will tell you how.
In fact, I just went under contract for a home I listed on Zillow and Facebook Marketplace (without a Realtor of my own). I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, but I’ve bought and sold about 14 houses in the past year and am familiar with the market and how to sell without an agent. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it too though.
So, what can you do to sell your home in the dead of winter? Here are a few ideas backed up by top real estate agents around the country.
Are There Any Benefits to Selling During the Winter?
Buyers are motivated! Anyone shopping during an off-season is likely doing so out of necessity—not curiosity. On top of that, there’s less seller competition, and there’s more opportunity for time off of work with the holidays. (But this is a double-edged sword, as the time of year can also delay closing due to vacation, bank holidays, etc.)
However, when there are fewer houses—should you have an agent—you will likely get more attention from them, as they have fewer transactions going on. Buyers may also be hoping for tax breaks associated with buying homes, so those December listings can be beneficial and bring motivated buyers for these purposes, as well.
And now for the tips!
Top 4 Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter
1. Get the right pictures.
This advice is true for any season, and it gets customers in the door. It can be more difficult to do this during the wintertime, since snow might hang around for a few weeks. But better real estate pictures on average get you an offer 32 percent faster than homes with just average ones!
It’s best to get pictures of your house, patio, and yard before the weather hits (or well after). A well-lit exterior will draw prospects into your listing, as will a well-lit interior.
I dabble in photography, but anyone who has looked at multiple listings has probably noticed the most appealing houses have the best photos. The interior is bright, minimal in nature, and clean. You’re selling your home, right? Don’t be shy about putting some of your clutter in boxes you then put away. This will do wonders when showing the property—but also when photographing it.
You know that late afternoon/early evening timeframe when your home feels so nicely lit? I love that time of day, and so do many others. If you must take your own pictures (which I do), try to take them during the time of day the lighting makes your house look the nicest, without any direct sunlight coming in.
Open the blinds, take out all the magazines and clutter, and find the right angle to reveal the most of a room (wide angle lenses are helpful for most shots). You can take professional-looking photos yourselves if you want. It just takes a little finesse and a lot more than what I’ve covered just now.
Give the viewer a good idea of the layout of your house. Have you ever looked at a house online and been unable to figure out its layout? How easy was it for you to imagine yourself there? For me, not very easy.
My listing statistics routinely do better than competitors, and I firmly believe it’s because of my pictures.
2. Stage it well.
If your house has the same layout as the one next door that’s also for sale, how can you get a competitive edge?
Consider the impact staging has on a home for sale. If you don’t, you may potentially want to look at prior listings of homes in your area that look like they were staged.
The house we purchased was staged, and I kept the listing photos just in case. Professional staging companies know how to make prospects imagine themselves in a property, and proper staging can increase your offer up to 5 percent!
Feng shui is known to have a positive impact on home sales, and so does that coziness factor. So…
3. Make it cozy.
This doesn’t just mean stringing lights around and throwing blankets over furniture. Cozy means keep your home free from clutter, perhaps have some warm/more neutral color decorations, and even some candles with a welcoming smell.
Make your home feel like home upon entry when showing it. This is Staging 101 and is a proven strategy to get yourself a higher offer.
The neutral colors not only will photograph better but also will show better. It’s extremely important to capture the coziness factor—particularly when winter season colors are softer and less vibrant.
It’s difficult to have good curb appeal during the wintertime. You may want to consider buying a small spruce or two and placing them in pots or posting a wreath on your door to give the area some greenery. Lighting is always nice but not applicable for most showings, as many Realtors prefer to show during the day. Adding a bird feeder nearby may also make the home appear more natural, as well, as buyers will notice the local wildlife.
These things may seem small, but they can give the house an “at home” and more well-loved feeling. This in turn can make buyers more confident in making an offer.
Nothing is worse than pulling up to a house that isn’t shoveled or cleared. If the owner doesn’t make an effort to shovel, what else don’t they make the effort to do?
Am I going to find pipes frozen because the home wasn’t winterized? Is the furnace properly cared for? What other major expenses are coming my way due to neglect?
All of these are valid questions after noticing something as small as not clearing the driveway. Get that furnace tuned up, check your chimney, drain your sprinklers. Take care of all those things winter can damage to set buyers up for success in the spring.
How do you think you’d treat a potential client at work who had $300,000 to $500,000 to invest? You’re asking buyers to make a significant investment. Make sure you treat them like it.
Recognize Winter Sales Aren’t Bad
Yes, inventory is historically lower in the wintertime. Business perhaps slows down, as there are fewer buyers in the market. But less inventory means less competition for you.
Inventory is only down an estimated 25 percent in the cold-weather season, so it’s not exactly a dead market. If you provide a listing appealing to those searching in the wintertime, the buyers in the market will turn their attention to your home.
Back to my listing that just went under contract: I had three offers in 48 hours of my listing last week. Yes, it’s in a competitive market, but when that same market was even more competitive and I was learning to do listings myself, I wasn’t getting that sort of attention.
A competitive listing gets you competitive offers, simple as that.
Do you have any other tips to offer sellers who are trying to unload property in the winter?
Share in a comment below!