Strategizing for Successful Winter Sales
Late spring to early summer are considered the best time to sell homes. Long days and great weather give buyers plenty of time to house hunt and let sellers show off their property’s best side. However, that doesn’t mean potential buyers or sellers should write off winter sales. While less popular than spring and summer sales, listing a home in the winter offers big benefits to buyers and sellers alike.
Winter isn’t the traditional house-hunting season, which means people scheduling showings and visiting open houses are likely to be serious buyers. And when they find a house they like, Trulia points out that buyers will be motivated to move quickly and make a competitive offer. Winter buyers know that losing out on a house could mean waiting weeks for a comparable home to hit the market. When buyers are on a deadline, that’s time they can’t afford to spend.
Pricing for a Winter Sale
Don’t assume that a winter sale necessitates a lower asking price. While median home prices do tend to drop during winter, serious buyers won’t hesitate to make an offer on a home that’s priced right.
Avoid pricing a home too low, as the slower winter market means bidding wars are unlikely to drive the final price up. At the same time, it’s important not to price too high. An overpriced listing could languish on the market until spring, only to be overshadowed by new listings.
Time advises taking a conservative approach and pricing homes at market value. Redfin is an easy tool for sellers to review current home prices; researching market trends in Dane County, you’ll find homes have sold for an average price of $279,000 over the past 30 days, up 8 percent from the same time last year.
Staging for a Winter Sale
With a smaller pool of buyers, it’s especially important that winter sellers stage their homes effectively. However, gray winter weather and dormant landscape plants present challenges for home staging. Although you could work with a professional home stager, we offer that as part of our service.
That said, the one thing sellers can count on is that buyers are wanting open, neutral spaces, no matter the season. Sellers should be encouraged to get rid of items they don’t intend to keep before showing their home. However, even this can leave homes too cluttered for buyers’ tastes. To truly create a blank canvas for buyers, sellers should store anything they can do without (ideally about two-thirds of the home’s contents) in an off-site storage unit until they move. The current average price for self-storage in Madison is $85.33 per month, a trivial amount to spend if it promotes a faster sale.
In addition to a thorough decluttering, sellers should implement these winter staging tips:
- Ensure the house is well-lit after dark, both inside and out.
- Set the heat to a comfortable temperature. Resist the urge to be frugal and keep the house warm for visitors.
- Go easy on holiday decorations. A simple wreath on the front door and white lights strung around bare trees brighten up a dreary winter landscape, but excessive or overtly-religious holiday décor could turn buyers away.
- Clean the windows. Without trees shading a home, bright winter light streams through windows and highlights every smudge and smear.
- Add curb appeal. A snowy landscape doesn’t mean curb appeal is irrelevant. A freshly-painted front door, potted evergreen plants, and neatly-pruned trees and shrubs go a long way to improving winter curb appeal.
- Clear snow and ice. Safety is a top priority when showing a home.
Sellers don’t need to wait until spring to sell a home. With the right approach, homeowners can sell their home quickly and for a great price even in the depths of winter. Arm your clients with the knowledge they need to set the right asking price and stage their home for a successful winter sale.
Thanks to Suzie Wilson at Happier Home for this contribution.
Image via Unsplash