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Preparation and price

Selling your house this winter doesn’t have to be a chilling experience

Created date

November 23rd, 2018
Erickson Living's recommended real estate agents can help you sell your home and move to a community before the winter weather makes you house look like this! (pictured is a house covered in snow and ice)

Erickson Living's recommended real estate agents can help you sell your home and move to a community before the winter weather makes you house look like this!

Any real estate agent will tell you the best season to sell your house is in the spring. And the second-best season? Summer. So how does winter fare when it comes to selling your house, especially in a real estate market where interest rates are on the rise?

While winter is traditionally the slowest seller’s market of all the seasons, the good news is we’re not in a traditional real estate market. With mobile apps and online listings, home shoppers can now virtually tour your home without ever setting foot outside. And fewer houses on the market means less competition when it comes to selling.

In fact, Redfin analyzed more than seven million home sales over a recent four-year period and split the data into seasons, according to when the homes were first listed. What they found was that, among spring listings, 18.7% of homes fetched above asking, with winter listings not far behind at 17.5%.

And while 48% of homes listed in spring sold within 30 days, 46.2% of homes in winter did the same.

“The winter is generally slower than the spring and summer, but there are still people looking to buy and the buyers are generally more serious and motivated, says Greg Kinnear, associate of RE/MAX Advantage Realty in Ellicott City, Md. “When homes are decorated around the holidays, it can tug at buyers’ emotions and help them feel attached to the home.”

So what’s the key to selling your house quickly this winter? Experts say setting the right price and having it move-in ready is essential.

“While winter can get a bad rap, it’s not a bad time to list a home. You may have fewer people looking to buy, but those who are looking are serious,” Oklahoma City real estate agent Michelle Leader said in a Redfin.com article. “Buyers that time of year often need to move, so they’re much less likely to make a lowball offer and they’ll often want to close quickly—two things that can make the sale much smoother.”   

Ready to go

In most cases, move-in ready means fixing small things like holes or cracks in the walls or ceilings, making sure the carpets are clean, adding a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and recaulking tubs and showers.

But in some cases, reaching turnkey status may mean you need to spend money in order to make money. Major defects could mean anything from a leaky roof to a cracked driveway with potholes. Yet making these repairs could mean the difference between selling your house in two weeks versus two months.

Just as important as having your house move-in ready is setting the right price.

Hiring a professional real estate agent is a great way to both market your house and determine its worth. Experienced agents know the current market and will price your home accordingly.

Charlestown Sales Counselor Molly Fricker can also provide important tips on selling your house, finding a reputable real estate agent, and, once your house sells, hiring movers.

“We’ve helped hundreds of people move to Charlestown over the years,” says Fricker. “And through our Erickson Realty and Moving program, we’ve acquired quite a few friends in the business. A lot of the real estate agents we know have experience in selling older homes and are experts on the real estate market in Baltimore and the surrounding counties.”

Tips for getting your house ready this winter

When it comes to improvements, the general rule in real estate is that buyers seek the least-expensive home in the best neighborhood they can afford. In terms of improvements, this means you want a home that fits in the neighborhood but is not over-improved.

Here are a few budget-friendly ways to get your house ready to sell this winter:

Clear the way. If it’s snowing outside, make sure walkways, driveways, and decks are shoveled and salted so buyers can safely and easily access your home.

Create curb appeal. You never know when someone will drive by. If you’re selling your house during the holiday season, don’t go overboard with decorations. A tasteful wreath and some natural greenery can warm up your home without making it seem overdone.

Lighten and brighten. Open the curtains, pull up the shades, remove the screens, and put in the brightest bulbs possible. A well-lit room gives the illusion of open space. And since the sun sets earlier this time of year, don’t forget to keep the lights on outside as well.

Declutter. Remove all appliances from kitchen countertops. Organize cabinets and closets. And don’t forget to remove personal possessions. Less clutter makes the space feel bigger.

Deep clean. Shampoo rugs, clean all windows, dust ceiling fan blades and chandeliers, and make sure bathrooms are spotless. Also, keep it clean between showings.

Warm reception. This is no time to save on your heating bill. Keep the heat up so your house is warm and inviting. If you have a fireplace, light it up. There’s no better way than a crackling fire to make buyers feel at home.

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