December 18, 2018 by
‘Tis the season to deck the halls, wrap gifts, bake cookies and . . . sell a home?
Spring is typically seen as the “best” time of year to sell a home, for several valid reasons – including the simple fact that the weather is more conducive to driving around town to get in-and-out of the car for showings. However, after decades of selling in the greater St. Charles area, we believe that a well-priced home can sell any time of year.
If you are contemplating listing your home during the winter, there are some intriguing pros (and realistic cons) that you should consider. We’ve rounded up the top five of each, to give you a little food for thought.
Pros of Selling a Home in the Winter
Maybe you think you’re up to the challenge of putting a house on the market during the cold winter months, or maybe you don’t have a choice. Whatever the case, there are several potential things you can look forward to, including:
- Winter Selling Pro #1: Buyers are serious about buying.
The larger volumes of buyer traffic in the spring and summer are much more likely to include window shoppers — people who might be thinking about buying a house, and people who might just be driving around on a sunny day to scope out decorating ideas while they enjoy free snacks. For winter buyers, the opposite is generally true. If they are making appointments on weekday evenings during what is arguably the busiest time of year (with the shortest amount of daylight) they are probably in hot pursuit of a home to call their own.
- Winter Selling Pro #2: Buyers are more motivated to do a quick closing.
If you receive an offer in November or December, specifically, your buyer might be motivated to do a quick closing in order to take advantage of the tax benefits. By closing prior to New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31), the new owners can take several deductions on that year’s taxes, including their mortgage interest and property taxes — translating to potentially significant savings. If you are on the market in Q1, do not despair: Many companies who exercise first-of-the-year promotions and staffing changes produce a bump in buyers who are motivated to close quickly, in order to get the most bang for their buck with corporate relocation packages.
- Winter Selling Pro #3: You can get a leg up on the competition.
Your listing is a lot more likely to stand out in the winter because there are fewer listings to choose from, overall. How many fewer, you ask? According to the St. Charles Realtors Association, there were 568 active listings in January 2017, compared to 2,258 in March 2017. That’s a 74.8% increase in inventory in just a three-month time period. If you want extra eyes on your property, winter might just be the ideal time period for you.
- Winter Selling Pro #4: Mortgage interest rates are more predictable.
Savvy buyers who are house-hunting during the winter may also be ticking against the clock of market uncertainty (a.k.a., every seller’s worst nightmare). Perhaps the buyers are already pre-approved for a certain amount. Do they really want to risk losing the interest rate they have now? As of September 2018, the average 30-year mortgage interest rate hit a four-month high at 4.65 percent — up from 3.99 percent in 2017. So, we cannot help but imagine those who were window shopping for their first home in 2017 were kicking themselves for not pulling the trigger sooner.
- Winter Selling Pro #5: Online house hunting is a year-round activity.
Or, as Dave Ramsey says, “The internet has no seasons.” Sure, buyers might not be thrilled at the idea of lugging on their snow boots to go out to a showing. But cozying up to their laptops with a blanket and a cup of coffee to peruse the online listings? We think there’s no better time than the winter to catch their eyes.
The Downside of Listing Your Home Around the Holidays
We would not be writing this post if there weren’t some challenges to selling a home in the winter. If you are up for the adventure, we can guarantee your realtor will be, too. Here’s a look at what you might be up against:
- Winter Selling Con #1: Weather woes are not ideal for showings.
This point is obvious, so we’ll get it out of the way first — people generally do not love being out in winter weather. It can make commuting to and from a bit more hazardous, and it is a lot easier to stay bundled up at home than bother going out in the first place. There will be fewer showings for a home listed in the winter than in the spring or summer, period. Remember that the quantity of showings is not always as important as their quality. Another point worth mentioning is winter’s shorter daylight hours. After Daylight Savings Time hits in the fall, you can count on losing an additional two to three hours of sunshine for prime home viewing.
- Winter Selling Con #2: Curb appeal can be lacking.
There is something magical about snow . . . until it comes time to photograph your home for the MLS listing. Suddenly, your roof lines disappear, your yard is buried, and all the landscaping looks drab. If your timeline is tight and you do not have the option to wait for a warmer day to take photos, you can always hang a festive wreath on the front door or draw buyer’s eyes to a cool architectural element of the home.
- Winter Selling Con #3: Showings take a little extra effort.
We all probably have that one friend who asks us to take our shoes off when we’re visiting. When you’re conducting showings during the winter, it is pretty likely that you will be that friend! Keeping your home “viewing-ready” when it’s cold out is no small feat. You and your family are probably inside more often, which means more tidying and organizing for everyone. You might be leery of leaving out wrapped holiday gifts, and transporting things back and forth from closets or storage areas to create a little extra breathing room. And did we mention plowing the driveway and sidewalks for visitors?
- Winter Selling Con #4: Buyers have a lot of other end-of-year financial obligations.
There are a lot of financial incentives to buying a home in the winter (see Pros #2 and #4). However, winter buyers are inundated with a lot of other financial obligations, and may not want to invest in a home when they have other, more urgent financial priorities to address, which can include:
- Buying holiday gifts
- Paying federal, state and property taxes
- Traveling for the holidays
- Winterizing vehicles
- Healthcare expenses during cold and flu season
- Winter Selling Con #5: Battling against the market’s bad reputation.
For all of these very legitimate reasons, selling a home in the winter gets a bad reputation — one that buyers are probably aware of. If they see a new MLS listing go up in the winter, they might be tempted to assume that the sellers are “desperate,” and come in with a lowball offer that you might expect from a fast cash home buyer. Setting your home at a reasonable list price, and carefully studying the comps of similar houses nearby is the surest way to hold yourself and your buyers accountable for making a deal that is fair for everyone, no matter what season you are selling in.
Meyer Real Estate Is Selling Homes Year-Round
Whether you are interested in buying or selling a home, the team of agents at Meyer Real Estate is here to help you accomplish your goals year-round. With nearly 60 years of experience selling homes in the greater St. Charles area, you can be sure that when you are working with Meyer Real Estate, you are working with a team that knows your market better than anyone.
Ready to sell (or buy!) a home this winter? Contact us today to get started.