It’s one of real estate’s most enduring mantras: If you want to list your house, you should sit out the winter season and let it hit the market in the spring. But, like so many things in life, finding the best time to sell a house has more variables than an NFL playoff scenario.
The general school of thought, and it most often proves to be correct, is that listing your home in the spring market will reap the biggest benefit. Like every rule, however, there are exceptions. Finding ways to break metaphorical rules are the keys to success.
With that said, here are six reasons why you shouldn’t wait until the ground has thawed to hammer in that “For Sale” sign!
1. LESS INVENTORY = MORE ATTENTION
Because everyone thinks they shouldn’t list their property under threat of snow and ice, there are very few homes to buy at the start of a new year. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still potential buyers on the prowl. And if your house is the only game in town, you’re likely to have a lot more interest than in spring when the market is saturated. With fewer options, traditionally nit-picky home shoppers are more likely to forgo their “must-have” list and give your place a more open-minded look.
2. FIRST-QUARTER JOB RELOCATIONS
Companies tend to place and/or relocate their workers during the first quarter of the new year. This means that every winter, there is an assured populace that’s looking for a new home, quickly. And good news for your asking price: This group often has some credited moving expenses to burn through. If you live close to a large corporation, ask your real estate agent how to target the new employees coming to town.
3. NO LANDSCAPING, NO PROBLEM
Listing your place in the spring or summer means keeping up with the landscaping (curb appeal!), which can be arduous. You’ll need to invest some time and money into new plantings and possibly a little sod, or at the very least, some potted plants and lawn maintenance. And if your landscaping is actually a selling point, the pruning responsibilities are even greater. You’ll need to trim the hedges, tend the flowers, and otherwise make sure your curbfront property and backyard are up to snuff at every possible moment.
In wintertime, though, the living is easy. If there’s snow…shovel. that’s pretty much it. No after-work and weekend hours toiling to maintain your outdoor space, and no stresses about its supposed inadequacies.
4. A LIGHTER FOOTPRINT (LITERALLY)
Overall, there are quite likely fewer buyers on the prowl during the winter months. More focused and more motivated, yes. However, undeniably fewer. Consider this a blessing. Fewer showings means fewer people stomping through your home, tracking dirt and mud all over your carpets as they open your medicine cabinets and peek into your closets.
It also means fewer open houses, which can take hours of preparation and don’t always pay off. If you do have a winter open house, chances are in your favor you’ll entertain more motivated visitors. There are very few window-shoppers during the cold-weather months, so you’re not going to see as many wanderers floating in and out looking for free cookies. 😉
5. A FASTER HOME SALE
It’s counter-intuitive but true: Homes actually sell more quickly in the winter months, even in cold-weather cities like Pittsburgh. There’s no general consensus on exactly why this is true, although low inventory is quite likely a big part of it. Another factor for some is, during the winter months, people simply don’t want to slog through showing after showing. Instead, they want the buying process to be over and done with, and are more willing to pull the trigger.
6. A HIGHER LISTING PRICE
While this isn’t true 100% of the time, the statistics shockingly show that homes sell at a slightly higher price in winter. This owes to several less mysterious factors. For starters, your real estate agent is going to be more adamant about pricing the property just right out of fear the home will languish on the market until spring. (If a property price reflects both the current market and the surrounding neighborhood, that home is more likely to go under agreement at a favorable price.) Motivated buyers might also submit a price that’s too good to refuse. Finally, a fear of rising mortgage rates (rates tend to go up in the spring) might cause a buyer to be more willing to pay a higher price upfront. Whatever the reason, it’s a happy discovery for many people who finalize a home sale when the weather outside is frightful.