Conventional real estate wisdom says that summer is the best time to put your house on the market, with more buyers looking to move in the warmer weather. While it’s true that sunny days bring out the buyers, winter may be the best time for sellers looking to make the most cold, hard, cash-- and fast.
The real estate tech giant Redfin released a report revealing that homes listed in winter are more likely to sell faster and at a higher asking price than summertime sales. In fact, homes listed between December 21st and March 21st fared the best out of homes listed during any other season.
Data Source: 2013 Redfin report
Anecdotal evidence holds to the trend as well. One of my recent listings, a three-bedroom craftsman in the desirable Columbia neighborhood of Bellingham, went under contract after less than a week on the market.
So what’s really going on here? With so many eager buyers shopping in the summertime, why are we seeing sales trends that seem to directly contradict our expectations?
Fewer Buyers are Looking, But Winter Buyers are Serious
During the summertime, open houses are plagued with swarms of “lookie-loos.” These well-meaning visitors may be in the market for a new home…. someday. They might also be enjoying a sunny afternoon spent exploring the neighborhood and looking for redecorating ideas.
A well-attended open house is a great sign of a strong listing, but it’s not an offer on the table.
When you list your home in the wintertime, you put your listing in front of a different audience of buyers. Winter buyers tend to be more serious and motivated- they are looking for a home because they need to buy a home, not because they want to buy.
This sense of urgency translates into fewer days on market and higher sales prices, as sellers have a stronger negotiating power when working with buyers who aren’t in a position to walk away as easily.
Your Listing has Less Competition
Most home owners do buy into the idea that summer is the best time to sell, and so they either hold off on listing or take their homes off the market. With less inventory, serious buyers have fewer options and are forced to make more open-minded choices about which homes they decide to see and which offers they decide to make.
If you’re not sure what a huge difference this can make, request a comparative market analysis. This service is free and can pinpoint your local competition, as well as predict how your home would compare in a winter versus summer market.
Winter Listings Take Less Maintenance
Between cutting back grass, keeping up with the landscaping and cleaning up between showings, summertime selling involves a lot of work.
During the holiday months, creating curb appeal for your listing is much simpler. You may have to shovel or salt occasionally, but there’s not nearly as much pressure to make an impression with your landscaping. In fact, a cheerful wreath, few strings of lights and seasonal welcome mat do most of the work in creating a welcoming first impression for you.
Real Estate Agents Have More Time to Advertise Winter Listings
During the busier summer months, agents spend more time out of their offices, showing properties and hosting open houses. Full time brokers have to balance our time between dozens of buyers and sellers, prioritizing hundreds of tasks on a weekly basis.
But in the wintertime, we get to spend more time working one-on-one with clients, creating new marketing campaigns that more effectively reach potential buyers, and looking out for the best investment opportunities on the market.
It’s our time to get a little more creative, and a lot more personal. Homes that have had trouble selling in summertime may get a better shot with the added broker attention and decreased competition.
If you’re ready to sell your home, don’t wait until the spring to get it on the market. Take advantage of serious winter buyers, decreased competition and low-maintenance listings and get your home sold quickly and for the right price.