People often think that spring is the best time to sell their home. While there’s an element of truth to that, it’s actually a fallacy, says REALTOR® Kaleb Streeter.
It’s false because people often draw a parallel between a “good” market and lots of inventory. That’s contradictory, because the more homes there are for sale, the more options buyers have and the more competition you have as a seller. “In saying that, is it the best time to sell? It doesn’t mean you’re not going to get the price you want if you sell in the spring, but it does mean that you’ll be competing against everybody else, so it starts to favour the buyer more,” he says.
Winter is exactly the opposite. Hardly anyone goes to market if they don’t have to, so what you find is that you have very serious sellers in the winter versus casual sellers. A casual seller is someone who when the market is hot wants to test to see if they can get a certain price; they normally overprice their home and if they strike gold, it’s cause for celebration. If they can’t get a certain dollar figure, they have no problem taking it off the market, which happens all the time.
Serious sellers are ones who are motivated to sell. If a home is listed in the winter, it likely means the seller is serious. This means they’re likely priced better, but you also have less competition. “It’s not you and the whole street for sale, it’s just you,” explains Streeter. “Buyers in the winter are so much more qualified too. They’re not tire-kickers. To get out in the winter and look at homes, to go through all the steps, to potentially close and move in the winter, it takes someone who is serious. Either they have found their dream home, or something has happened in their life that has caused them to need to move.”
Winter weddings are growing in popularity and people are getting together and buying houses just before or after these major life events. “The wintertime to me is a great market,” says Streeter.
Here are his top tips for selling your home this winter:
Take seasonal, professional photos
If you know you’re going to list in the winter, take seasonal (summer or fall) photos professionally so that you can use them in your advertising. This will show people a) that you’re not hiding anything, like a hole in the driveway or dead grass, and b) what your home looks like in other seasons. This is especially crucial for waterfront properties, as buyers will want to know what the shoreline is like. If you haven’t done this, you can always print out any photos you already have on your phone that showcase your property in non-winter months; leave them out on the counter for buyers to see.
Pre-pump your septic system
If you’re on septic, pre-pump your system. Most companies will not do this in the winter because when the temperature gets too low, chemical reactions occur between the pump chamber and the greywater and you run the risk of freezing and cracking the tank. If you sell and close in the winter, you can’t give the buyer a fresh septic tank, which is kind of a big deal when selling a rural property. When you pre-pump your septic, you can supply a receipt to the buyer’s agent.
Keep pathways clear of snow
Shovel a path around the house and ensure easy access to the backyard. Keep the driveway and walkways clear, and sand or salt them. “It’s like a well-groomed person,” says Streeter. “A home that has the driveway shovelled, the walkways and paths cleared and salted, and the deck shovelled off, you can then see all the components of the home. Do this and you’re actually doing yourself some serious favours.”
Turn your outside lights on
When you leave your house at 4 p.m. because you have back-to-back showings between 4 and 6, don’t forget to leave the outside lights on. It gets dark quickly now and leaving the lights on for showings is crucial.
Turn up the heat
Do everyone a favour and turn the furnace up a little bit more than you would normally. “A lot of people like to keep their houses cold. They walk around at 67 degrees and it’s not comfortable for showings. Put it to 72 and make everyone happy,” says Streeter. When your home is being shown, the doors are constantly being opened and it cools the house down, so keeping the temp up ensures your potential buyers are hit with that wall of warmth right away for the ultimate coziness factor. To add to the warmth, get some baked goods going. Stay away from candles, though, as they can be overpowering. One trick he uses is to boil water with cinnamon sticks, orange slices and cloves, which results in a heavenly, all-natural scent.
Tread lightly here. If you’re going to be showing your home over the holidays, particularly during the month of December, remember that less is more when it comes to seasonal decorating. Buyers still want to be able to move around easily and to open up cupboards and closets; don’t make it tough for them by having fake snow and trees in the way.
Turn on your fireplace
“This is my last tip that I wish everybody would do. If you have a fireplace—not wood, but gas or electric—turn it on. It is so powerful what that can do for a showing,” says the REALTOR®.
There is no reason for buyers to pause their search until spring. “Here’s the thing: do you want to be a buyer in the spring with a million other buyers and 14 offers on every house? Or do you want to be a buyer in the winter and be the only offer?” says Streeter.
“I recommend that buyers maintain their search year-round, especially in the winter, and to not give up until the spring. That’s when they could find something and not be in competition. Find something great and get a spring closing, that’s the best of both worlds.”
To search hundreds of homes locally, check out the Streeter Team's listings or call 705-323-9212.