Even though we call it the off-season for selling homes, people still buy in fall and winter. Preparing a home for sale in these months though isn’t the same. The weather brings in different considerations that can make a home look less attractive as temperatures drop.
Winter selling has a bad reputation according to Money Crashers, but it also has one important advantage — there’s less competition. Not only that, but buyers tend to be more serious in the winter, often because they’re working off a shorter timeframe for finding a home. Agents are more motivated as well, since fewer listings mean fewer sales.
Can you get a home sold in fall or winter? Will someone buy a home between Thanksgiving and New Year’s? The answer to both questions is yes, you just have to do things a little bit differently to hold onto that ‘wow’ factor in a listing.
The biggest challenges to selling in fall and winter
The weather is the biggest factor you’re working against when selling a home in fall and winter. It’s cold. It’s rainy. You may even have to contend with snow. These are conditions where most people would rather stay at home, hidden under blankets on the couch. You’ve got to give them a house worth seeing to get them out.
The cold also brings about visual changes. Yards turn brown, trees go bare, and there’s so much extra darkness. It’s harder to capture those idyllic pictures of a home that helps sell it when potential buyers browse online. Not only that, but you have less hours of sunlight to brighten up a house.
Another challenge to selling during the final portion of the year is time. Everyone gets busier as the year draws to a close. This makes it harder to schedule showings, host open houses, and put in the time necessary to really work with a client. Between family obligations, holiday planning, and work, it’s hard to juggle it all. This isn’t just an issue for real estate agents either, we all feel it.
How to get a house sold when it gets cold
Even if you live somewhere where winter isn’t all about the cold weather, selling during the last part of the year isn’t the same as listing in the spring. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you put that sold sign in the yard for your clients.
Maintain curb appeal
The leaves are so pretty in autumn as they turn colors. But, then they begin to fall. Those lush trees in the front yard are now just bare branches. The green grass has gone brown. Curb appeal is not at its best during fall and winter, but you’ll still need property pictures to put with your listing. If your client has any pictures of the exterior of the home from the spring, use those.
If you’re starting your property photos from scratch, encourage your clients to maintain curb appeal with a few simple tasks:
- Keep leaves off the ground by regular raking or blowing.
- Continue mowing the grass to keep it short and neat.
- Consider swapping in a few seasonal plants for those that stay green all year. Spruce and hostas are two great options.
If you live where it’s warmer in winter, and don’t have to worry about yards losing their green, don’t forget to encourage your sellers to keep their landscaping neat.
Master artificial light
With fewer hours of daylight in the fall and winter, homes take on a different look. A dark home isn’t as hospitable, so you’ll have to adjust for the lack of natural light.
On the outside of a home, consider some landscape lighting to keep things bright even when night sets in early. Recommend to clients they go this route rather than covering their home with holiday lights. Those can have an adverse effect, turning buyers off, especially if the decoration seems a little tacky.
For the interior, see if your sellers have a few more lamps they can move into dark corners of the home. You may even want to purchase a few yourself to have on hand for your listings. While it’s not natural light, it will do the trick in helping buyers see the home at its best.
Make sure everything is in working order
There are a few extra things to check in a home during the fall and winter. The most important is the heater. Is it working? Does it need service? Will its condition turn away a potential buyer? The cold reminds people that this is an important appliance to look over. While they may glance at it in the spring, they’re really going to check and see that it works when it’s cold.
If possible, have the heater checked out by a professional before any showings take place. You don’t want it to putter out mid-viewing.
Maximize “hot” selling features
We all know buyers love granite counters, open floor plans, and hardwood floors. However, in the fall and winter there’s another hot selling feature in a home, the fireplace. Even if you don’t live somewhere that’s cold, if a home has a fireplace, this is the time to flaunt it.
Keeping a fireplace lit during a showing can create a cozy atmosphere that draws buyers to your listing. Add a few touches to the mantel to stage the area, and it becomes a focal point of the home.
Other areas to highlight include a finished basement, with space to hang out when it’s too cold to go outside. You can also stage living spaces with thick blankets and plush pillows to up the snuggle quotient in a room.
Manage your schedule
The fall and winter is also the holiday season. You may host multiple holiday meals and events at your home, making time a hot commodity. Even though you’ll have fewer listings, it’s important you manage your schedule to allow for work to look a little differently.
You may have to adopt a slightly different marketing strategy for your listings, targeting those moving into the area rather than those doing a local move. This can mean more work on your end interacting with a potential buyer who’s out-of-state.
You’re also working with the busy lives of others, so give yourself some flexibility too. Allow for those special fall and winter activities to take precedence by adding a little wiggle room into closing dates, even if that means they come sooner than normal.
Give your fall and winter listings the right TLC
Fall and winter listings require a little extra love to ensure the home gives off the right vibe. Luckily, with fewer listings, you’ll have the time to make these homes shine, getting them sold no matter the month.