Ask Brian: Tips for Selling a Home During the Winter

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Ask Brian is a weekly column by Real Estate Expert Brian Kline. If you have questions on real estate investing, DIY, home buying/selling, or other housing inquiries please email your questions to [email protected].

Question.
Elizabeth from Nevada
asks: Brian, I just
got a job offer out of state that I’m going to take and I have to be there by
the middle of February. I need to sell my home right away but I’m really
concerned about selling during the winter. I’ve heard it is the worst time of the
year. I’d like to hold off for spring or summer but I can’t afford two house
payments. What are your thoughts?

Answer.
Hi Elizabeth. A
lot of people think that selling a house in the winter is a bad idea but that
isn’t necessarily true. Take yourself for example, you didn’t say if you plan
to buy another house right away at your new location but I’d guess that you’ll
at least start looking shortly after you settle in. People have many reasons to
sell and buy during the winter. Although the market is usually a little
smaller, it is still plenty active.

In fact, in today’s world, the
winter market is more active than historically. A big reason for this is the
internet and smart phones. It probably isn’t obvious but some of the many
people you see mesmerized by their smart phones while standing in line and
waiting around are looking at homes for sale. Different studies show slightly
different numbers of how many people start their home search on the internet
but every study shows it is more than 90%. And winter can be your friend on the
internet. There are fewer listings during the winter, which means your listing
is going to be closer to the top of search results.

With your house rising to the top
of search results, the other thing to know about selling in the winter is that
buyers that are looking are serious. Just like there are fewer winter sellers,
there are fewer winter buyers (fewer looky-loos). People looking at houses
during January and February are looking for a great house that isn’t going to
break out into a bidding war. They want to complete the purchase before all of
the other buyers show up in the spring. Elizabeth, you may only have 7 or 8
people look at your house the first couple of weeks but they’ll be more interested
than 20 people that are out when the weather gets better just to see what is on
the market.

Something else to keep in mind is
that the winter market attracts different buyers than the spring market. Your
real estate agent should know the winter market. A big difference is that
families with kids don’t want to move during the school year. That means the
marketing plan needs to focus elsewhere. One thing to keep in mind is that many
people just got Christmas bonuses from work. The bonus could be what puts them
over the top with a down payment to qualify for a mortgage. Here are some
things to think about when marketing your house during the winter.

Walking
into a warm house on a cold winter day is welcoming. Keep the house a little on
the warm side so that it feels cozy.When
you know someone is coming to look at the house, light a fire in the fireplace
if you have one. Fresh baked bread or cookies are always a good idea to make a
home feel cozy. If you have a hot tub, take off the cover and turn up the
temperature. The
holidays are over, so make sure you take down the decorations. Still having
decorations up can make people think you don’t take care of house chores in a
timely manner.On
darker days, turn on the porch light even during the day. If you have yard
lights, turn these on also. You can also use higher wattage bulbs both indoors
and outdoors. Light is your friend in the winter. For
marketing photos and videos, try to avoid snow in the yard. It does make the
inside look cozy but people want to see yard and exterior details that aren’t
covered by a blanket of snow.People
don’t take as much time off from work during the winter but there are some
holidays that working people do get off. Something you want to do is make sure
your house is ready for viewing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Valentine’s Day,
and Presidents Day.Keep
the driveway and sidewalk ice free. The last thing you want is a potential
buyer slipping and falling on the ice.Marketing
materials should put more emphasis on energy efficiency that your house includes
(extra insulation, a high efficiency furnace, triple pane windows, etc.)You
should also expect more attention from your real estate agent since fewer
houses are being marketed this time of year.Also,
keep in mind that you’ll probably receive fewer offers, so take any offers that
you receive seriously.

There might be fewer buyers but in January
and February but they are more motivated. They are looking in winter because
they need to move, not because they’re just looking to kill a Saturday
afternoon. Selling in the winter is a little different than during the better
weather months. However, it doesn’t take much to make a winter listing work to
your advantage. 

What tips can you add for selling
during the winter? Please leave your comments.

Our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions or inquiries to [email protected].

Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 12 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, near a national and the Pacific Ocean.

The post Ask Brian: Tips for Selling a Home During the Winter appeared first on RealtyBizNews: Real Estate News.

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