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Should you sell your home in the winter?

You may have heard it’s better to wait until the spring to list your home, but is there any truth to this? Obviously, each situation is different and sellers decide to list for a magnitude of reasons. Some people may think sellers who list in the winter are in a desperate situation — but that's actually not the case. Let’s outline some pros and cons to listing your home in the winter and why it just might be a smart move to do so.

Selling your house in the winter

Pros for Listing Your Home in the Winter

  • Winter buyers are usually motivated and won’t waste your time. They typically have a reason for needing to buy a home right now so they are more likely to know what they want and are most likely preapproved for their mortgage. They might be relocating for work or have a financial situation that requires them to move. Whatever the reason, most winter shoppers are serious.
  • Many people have more time off during the holidays, so this means that many buyers will have more time to actually home shop!
  • Loans will process and close quicker because less homes sell in the winter and lenders aren't as busy.
  • There is less competition in the winter, therefore your house will have more of a chance to stand out! Sometimes it may seem as if you’ve almost got the market all to yourself!
  • Buyers can enjoy tax benefits when purchasing before the end of the year (and if you are selling, you may also be buying to take advantage of these benefits as well). We suggest you talk to a tax expert for more information about how this all works.
  • Since most start their home search on the Internet, it doesn’t matter what season it is! Just make sure your home’s online presence is outstanding so it will make those serious buyers want to go out in the cold to come see your home. You may also want to post an outside photo of your home from the spring or summer so they get a better idea of the home's exterior beauty in all seasons. Also posting a cozy photo of your home at night with the lights on can bring buyers in as well. Offer virtual home tours and always show the home at its best. In your listing, be sure to use popular keywords for home features and include accurate, high quality descriptions to entice buyers to come visit your home.
  • And lastly, your Real Estate Agent will have more time for you since they will have less clients to assist during the winter. They will be able to offer more advice, help you get your home show-ready, talk more with potential buyers for your listing, and potentially work harder for you.
Selling your house in the winter

Cons for Listing Your Home in the Winter

  • There will likely be less buyers touring your home for obvious reasons. Many folks don’t want to bundle up and go out into the cold or skip out on holiday family time unless necessary. Besides, who really would choose to move in the cold?
  • Your holidays may get interrupted with showings at any time so you must be prepared and flexible, even during a holiday meal.
  • Holiday splurges and gift-giving debt may eliminate the chances for some serious buyers to purchase until they get their finances and credit in balance again.
  • The winter weather can bring on some home issues that may hurt a sale or extend closing such as frozen pipes, a leaky roof or faulty heating systems just to name a few. The weather also brings delays on certain repairs and services. Keep this in mind when deciding if you should list.
  • Closings may be delayed due to office closings for holidays or weather with your mortgage provider, insurance, real estate brokerage or settlement office.
  • The buyers may think they can get a better deal in the winter and you may get some lower offers. Be prepared for this scenario. How will you handle offers on your home? Will you counteroffer or just wait for the next buyer to come along?
  • Your house may look a bit dreary in the winter. All the leaves are off the trees and your grass lawn may be dormant depending on where you live. Decoration and landscaping will go a long way to offset the season's curb appeal! Keep that in mind when preparing your home for a winter sale and take advantage of the holidays to make your home seem happy and inviting!

Do the pros outweigh the cons of listing in the winter? Why not give it a try? Spring is just a few months away so if you can’t find a buyer in the winter, just wait a few months and they will come flooding in.

Selling your house in the winter

Tips for Listing in the Winter

If you decide to go for it, here are some tips to show the holiday spirit through your home so that the buyers who walk through are in a cozy, wintry mood:

  • Keep it simple: turn the lights on the tree, maybe have the fireplace going but don’t overdo it on holiday decorating.
  • Consider playing some soft holiday music or baking some cookies prior to a showing and offer the cookies up as treats to your guests to tease their senses. Help them imagine themselves at home.
  • Make sure your home is clean and polished. Clean the floors, walls, fixtures, windows, etc. Pick up the clutter and remove any personal items so they can fully imagine themselves and their belongings in the home.
  • Turn up the heat so the buyer will want to stay awhile. Very important! Nothing makes a buyer want to flee faster than a chilly house and it makes them wonder how well the house is maintained at other times.
  • Create a cozy environment with throw pillows, blankets, spa features in the bathrooms, champagne in the living room and more. Put flowers throughout the home to remind them of spring.
  • It’s naturally darker in the winter, so shine as much light as possible. Open the blinds and turn on the lights for showings. Maybe even consider a higher wattage light bulb than normal.
  • Brighten the outside of the home, especially for night time showings. Turn on exterior lights, put candle lights in the windows, add a glow of simple holiday decorations, etc.
  • You won’t need to do typical yard work or landscaping in the winter, but make sure you do shovel a pathway (and salt it up for safety), add solar lights, have a welcoming doormat in place so they can wipe their feet, clean the gutters and have homey items like bird feeders and wreaths hanging. First impressions do count, so make sure the exterior is cozy and welcoming. And if you're lucky enough to have had a recent snowfall — the fluffy, snowy wonderland makes it even more tempting to step inside a cozy home, doesn't it?

At the end of the day, all kinds of buyers are out there shopping in all seasons, so you always have a chance of getting your home sold at any time of the year. That's the truth. And if listing your home in the winter doesn't quite work out, you always can rely on those who make New Year’s resolutions to be homeowners, right?

Want more advice about all things home — including homebuying or selling advice? Nestiny is a great place for homebuyer education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a Ready Report that will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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