SHOULD I LIST MY HOME IN WINTER?
Is there an optimum season to sell real estate? Yes and no. Yes, spring and fall are the traditional best months for sellers, and as a result also the best times for buyers since there are more choices. And no, since the reality is if you’re priced realistically, and your home shows well, you can sell in any market.
Why wait? If your property is ready to come to market, don’t hibernate until March 20th, the official end of winter. Listing in February and March can be surprisingly advantageous. Because inventory is low, there’s decidedly less competition. With fewer options for purchasers, there’s something to be said for encouraging the contrarian off season principal.
Yes, there will be more buyers in spring, but there will also be more inventory options. During April, May and June, warmer weather and longer daylight hours cause supply, demand and activity to peak. Families opt to settle their children before a new school year begins, so more contracts are signed in spring and summer.
But buying and selling occur year round. More often than not, life gets in the way of making a seasonal move. Couples have babies and need room to raise another child. Professionals relocate to accommodate job transfers. Estates need money to pay taxes. Overriding the residential real estate calendar, life events can seldom be planned. For the most part, those who shop for housing during winter months are highly motivated. Buyers out with their brokers braving the frigid weather and sloshing through streets are serious with a real need to make a timely purchase.
Many of them also have thicker wallets with cash bonuses this time of year. Hedge funders, wealth management bankers, and M & A investment bankers and their attorneys, in particular, will be out shopping for real estate this season. Additionally, Wall Streeters who received deferred compensation during the recession will see their stock options vesting about now.
Moreover interest rates are at historic lows and will probably inch up towards the latter part of this year. Two of my current buyers have loan commitments of 2.25% and 2.35% for 7 and 10 year ARMs respectively. The incentive to borrow money has never been higher.
If you decide to sell your home this month or next, here are some tips for winter.
-Make sure your price is on target, and that your home is inviting—which means that it’s clean, staged and clutter free.
-Maximize light. Turn up every lamp and lighting fixture to counter low winter daylight.
-Wash your windows and check for drafts.
-Keep room temperatures at about 69°. Your space should be comfortable but not hot.
-Invest in a door mat that won’t show dirt and a supply of shoe bootie covers so prospective buyers won’t track wet snow onto your wood floors or stain your rugs.
-Consider making a fire in the fireplace if you have one and it’s safe, though you don’t want a heavy burnt ash smell to linger the next day.
-First impressions are critical. Soft music and the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon buns appeal to the senses, but don’t overdo the scented candles.
Baby it’s cold outside, but there’s limited product, so if you decide to list now, you will attract serious buyers. Winter can be more strategic than you might think.