You don’t have to. Spring may be the strongest home-selling season, but that doesn’t mean selling your home at any other time of year is impossible, even in the chilly winter months
In fact, selling your home in the winter is getting easier in many parts of the U.S. The median listing price nationwide in February was $274,900, a 10 percent increase from February 2017, according to real estate information company realtor.com.
As housing markets continue to struggle for enough inventory to meet buyer demand and prices continue to rise, serious home buyers are widening their scope and choosing to shop throughout the year, not just during the warmer months.
As a seller, you can benefit from selling your home during winter rather than having to wait until spring. Lou Nimkoff, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association in Orlando,Florida, even recommends putting your home on the market before the end of the year.
The holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve can be tricky for just about any industry other than retail, but even when time constraints mean selling as soon as possible is necessary, there’s no such thing as an impossible time of year to sell. “I’ve sold a house once on Christmas Eve and once on New Year’s Eve,” Rosenberg says.
If you do have options, Rosenberg recommends putting your house on the market either by the first couple of weeks of November or waiting until mid-January.
New Year’s resolutions help many home buyers get into the house-hunting groove after the first of the year. If you like the idea of marketing your home at the start of 2019, reach out to real estate agents now to be sure you’re making all the right preparations to draw winter home buyers to your property. That includes maintaining curb appeal to ensure you won’t discover any maintenance disasters during snowfall, such as a leak in the roof or frozen plumbing that causes pipes to burst.
There is some seasonality to real estate, of course – many buyers who don’t feel the urgency may put off housing hunting until after the holidays. That's why it’s important to price your home realistically. The winter months aren’t the time to test the market and see how high of an offer you can get, but rather to price it correctly and attract the right buyer looking for a home like yours.
The buyers are as serious as you. You have to be pretty dedicated to prepare your home and put it on the market when the weather is cold and the winter holidays are either gearing up or just ending – it’s a busy time of year, after all. Fortunately, buyers are the same way during winter. While you may encounter buyers who have no timeline and want to tour dozens of houses in the spring, if a winter buyer is scheduling showings and touring houses, that means she’s looking to find the right house now.
Buyers care less about days on market. There may be fewer active buyers, but their motivation for finding the right house means they won’t care about some of the superficial reasons that trip up buyers during more competitive selling seasons.
In the peak selling seasons of spring and summer, some buyers are put off if they see a house doesn't have an offer after 50 days on the market, and they often assume something’s wrong with the house and write it off. While 200 days on market may still be considered a red flag, houses selling in winter tend to stay on market a little longer anyway and shouldn’t put off the serious buyers. Realtor.com reports the median days on market for houses that sold in February was 83 days, while May 2018 saw a median of just 55 days on market, both a decrease in days compared to the same time periods in 2017.
You’re not competing with as many buyers for your next house. In most cases, you’re selling your house because you’re looking to buy another. You have the benefit of less competition for your ideal next house when you’re not shopping during the hotter spring sales months like April and May. Negotiating with contingencies that your house sells as well could be more acceptable with fewer buyers to compete with.