Friday, November 28, 2014 / by Vanessa Saunders
Thinking of waiting to re-list your home next spring? I write this blog every year about this time in hopes that it will help sellers in the North Eastern market during one of the most advantageous selling seasons of the year: Winter.
Many sellers and Realtors alike would say I’m crazy. “Nobody wants to look at a house in New York’s cold and snow,” I’ve often heard. I also hear from sellers who can’t be bothered coping with all the winter weather and mess. “I can’t deal with Realtors traipsing through my house in their snow-covered boots during the holidays.”
To that, all I have to says is, “Humbug!”
Admittedly, winter weather discourages some buyers, and traditionally, the winter months see a lot less activity because of it. But winter is a great time to sell your home for a number of reasons. One is that because so many listings are taken off the market, winter inventory crashes. What this means for the seller who stays the course is that they get a market with significantly less competition! The odds that a buyer will pick your home is greater simply because buyers have less to choose from.
The flip side of this works to the seller’s advantage as well. Let’s say that a seller stays listed this winter and gets an offer in February or March. It will take an average of sixty days to close, so if they need to buy another home, they get to house-shop at the peak of the inventory, where there are the most properties to choose from and the best price competition.
“But,” many ask, “are there really any buyers out there looking in winter?”
The answer is an emphatic, “YES!” Not only are there buyers, but people who are shopping for a home in winter are MOTIVATED buyers. Any buyer willing to tramp through the snow and ice on a winter Sunday instead of staying inside watching football has a very good reason to be shopping. As a group, winter buyers are more serious than buyers in other seasons. Inclement weather convinces the casual lookie-loos, bargain shoppers and tire-kickers to stay home. Winter buyers are the cream of the crop. They REALLY need a house!
By taking their property off the market in winter, sellers will miss these buyers. I know because we were winter buyers once. I was doing a corporate relocation from Minnesota to New York in one of the worst January’s on record. There was a foot of snow on the ground, freezing temps and ice everywhere. We had one week to find a house and get an accepted offer.
Thank goodness for our intrepid Realtor, who slogged through the slop with us for five days. On our last day, she showed us a property which had just come on the market. The seller was recently widowed and her Realtor had just listed it on the MLS that day. The house was a perfect fit, and she accepted our offer. We didn’t need to move in until April, which gave the owner plenty of time to get organized for her move.
The last reason to stay listed over winter is a rumor that’s been rattling around the mortgage industry lately that interest rates are probably going to go up this spring. This could be part of the reason why we’re seeing much more interest that usual from buyers at this time of year. Some are looking to move ASAP, and others are making plans to shop around now, lock in an interest rate and close in early spring. Great idea, I’d say.
So my advice to buyers and their Realtors: Stay the course and stay on the market. You just might get a buyer you would have missed otherwise.