Most people believe that spring is the best time to put their house on the market. Flowers are blooming, weather is warm, and people seem to be more optimistic. When the weather is cold and wet, people prefer to stay indoors and curl up in front of a fire with a good book (or Kindle)—not plan a big move.
Although it’s counter-intuitive, it is precisely because so few people list their homes during winter that you should consider it. While your competitors wait for good weather to show off their homes’ most appealing features, you can work with the serious buyers who are looking for a place to live in December, January or February. Looky-loos wait for a sunny afternoon in April to walk through open houses. People ready to hand over a down payment attend open houses when it’s 36 degrees and raining.
When I compare housing statistics from last winter (December 2015-February 2016) to spring (March-May 2016), I see the average time on the market didn’t change much. In winter, the average residential property in inland Mendocino County was on the market for 91 days. In spring, the average time on the market was 89 days. Not a big difference.
When I compare home sales during the first part of the year (January through May 2016) to home sales for the whole year so far (January through November), it appears the market is heating up. Homes are selling faster now than they were in spring. During the first five months of the year, 96 homes sold. Through November, 277 homes sold; that’s an average of 19 homes per month for the first five months compared to 25 homes per month through November, or put another way: a 32 percent increase in the number of homes selling per month. Seems to me, this is a perfectly good time to put your house on the market.
The fact is, some buyers prefer to look for new properties in winter because a property’s flaws may be more apparent. Savvy buyers know it’s easier to miss problems when everything is warm and dry. In addition, if a property requires work on the septic system (i.e., installation, expansion or repairs), the buyer may be required to submit a wet weather soil analysis, which is tough to come by in August around here.
The bottom line is this: although spring is a slightly better time to put your house on the market, if you have any inclination toward moving during winter, don’t be scared off by the doom and gloomers.
Talk to your Realtor about how to stage your house during this time of year. Think roaring fire, the smell of hot cocoa and warm, fluffy throw blankets strategically placed on your couch. Serious buyers who need to move during this time of year will take one look at your house and picture themselves happily settled rather than trudging through inclement weather to see yet another house.
I think I’ve mentioned that I once had an agent who consistently had his highest sales volume during the month of December. While other agents believed the market would slow down during the holidays and planned accordingly, this guy figured he’d be the go-getter who jumped on every opportunity. Consequently, he was very successful, and you can be, too. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t sell your house in winter. You can.
If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (707) 462-4000. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.