Thinking about listing your home during the winter — or even over the holidays? Despite the popular belief that spring is the ideal time to list your home, you shouldn't necessarily wait. While there are fewer buyers, those who are looking in the winter tend to be more serious. Furthermore, fewer homes listed on the market in the winter can mean less competition. Prepare your home for sale during the off-season using these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to having a buyer before springtime.
1. Winterize your home fully
During the winter, a warm home is a necessity. Triple check that your home heating system is in working order and your home is properly insulated before showing your place to prospective buyers. If your home has a fireplace, make sure your chimney is cleaned and inspected. For added protection, weatherstrip your doors and windows to seal any potential air leaks. (The U.S. Department of Energy has a handy guide, if you’d like to do this yourself.) This will lower your energy costs, too!
2. Make your home inviting and comfy
A homey atmosphere encourages potential buyers to extend their visit. De-clutter your home, cue up some classical music and warm up your living room with throw blankets and pillows. Dig around your archives for photos of your property during spring and summer, too, to show what your place looks like year-round.
3. Decorate with non-denominational wintry cheer
Brighten up your home with a seasonal touch for the holidays, but don’t overdo it and keep your decorations free from religious themes. Stacked wood by the fireplace, candles, pine cones and holiday flowers will make your place feel warm without distracting or offending potential buyers.
4. Price your home to sell
Make sure you don't price your home above market value. If the asking price is too high, it’s likely to discourage potential buyers — especially in the wintertime. Studies show that the week a listing goes on the market, it receives nearly four times more views than it does a month later. If you reduce the price later, it won’t get the same attention.
5. There won’t be tons of showings — but don’t get discouraged
Buyers on the market during the winter are often more serious, for professional or personal reasons. Be flexible with showing times, even if they may interfere with other holiday activities. Take the time and make sure you don’t miss an opportunity.
6. Ensure that there is daylight during showings and open houses
Set open houses in the morning or early afternoon on clear days, if possible, to show off your home in sunlight. Your place simply doesn’t shine at night or during a snowstorm.
7. Keep up the curb appeal
Despite winter’s inevitable frost and snow, tidy up the stoop and sidewalk. Make sure there’s a clear, hazard-free path to the door — and maybe even spruce up the entryway with seasonal décor.
8. Showcase your home with high-quality real estate photos
Your real estate photos need to be especially vibrant, especially during the winter when potential buyers are more likely to browse listings online. Make sure to include photos of your home in spring or summer to show off your property in a warmer, lusher light.
9. Enlist a dedicated real estate agent
Your listing agent should be available and reachable for your buyers even throughout the holidays. Remember that people who are home hunting during the holidays are often on a tight deadline. With help from your agent, focus on time sensitive buyers that are relocating for work, have a 1031 exchange deadline, or a family event such as a baby on the way.