'Tis the season…to sell

Created date

November 29th, 2019

The rock group The Mamas and the Papas once sang about winter in the gloomiest terms, crooning that “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey.” Don’t be fooled.

Winter is a great time of year, and, more to the point, a good one in which to sell your house.

So often we hear stories about how springtime is the best time and perhaps the only time to put a property on the market; however, this is doubtful.

For example, consider the season. As you move into the holidays and approach the New Year, there are many prospective buyers and soon-to-be college grads who are considering both their budgets and a big investment in their lives.

Multiple real estate organizations seem to agree.

Eager to buy

In their 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report, the National Association of Realtors determined that 86% of those age 21 to 28 and 52% of those age 29 to 38 were, in fact, first-time home buyers. Furthermore, Realtor.com’s 2019 National Housing Forecast predicts that 2020 will be the peak year for home purchases within these groups.

And there are myriad reasons why many prefer this period as the season to put your property up for sale. For one, there’s less competition amongst home buyers.

Because of the lack of competition, buyers feel more comfortable. There’s less urgency, less anxiety about the loss of acquiring a dream house; generally speaking, this population of winter-going shoppers feels better about entering the market.

To piggyback off of this phenomenon, fewer competing buyers in the market encourages those shoppers who are in the market to maintain a relatively consistent level of enthusiasm for making offers. Indeed, when comparing summer and winter listing periods, one finds that the difference is negligible.

The real estate brokerage Redfin found that homes listed for sale between June and August of last year were on the market for about 38 days. Between December and February, that number increased to only 58.

An additional factor, of course, is mortgage rates, which according to the Home Buying Institute, have been hovering at historic lows. 

The latest Freddie Mac survey puts the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage loan at 3.57%. That’s a dramatic drop from the 4.51% that defined the beginning of 2019.

Even better news is that the same research team projects that the current interest rate will hold through the coming winter. This will motivate buyers.

Spruce up your property

So, what do you do to attract people during these so-called "gloomy" months? A host of options are at your fingertips.

Let’s start with the obvious.

Make your house as comfortable as possible. Although this doesn’t discount the value of eliminating clutter, it does involve the inclusion of accent pillows in the living room, cozy blankets in the bedroom, and perhaps even lighting up the fireplace during showings.

And lighting itself is another element you should have in mind. Keep the house well-lit—inside and out—to attract passersby and welcome those buyers with scheduled visits. 

Also, it’s winter, so decorate for the holidays. This has the added effect of allowing people to see themselves in the home. Just don’t go overboard on the decorations.

Finally, don’t forget that it is the age of the internet, so be certain you have updated photographs of your house. Buyers will almost invariably conduct their initial search online, and then visit the property. 

If you have poor or outdated pictures, they will be very disappointed. 

Based on the numbers and these sales tactics, sellers are in a position of control—even in the winter season. 

In other words, don’t focus on weather or springtime blooms. Instead, be confident that there is always a value and a demand for the sale of your house.