For starters, buyers during the winter months are usually more serious as a group. Running between a car and the front door in the pouring rain and dark to view a house with the heat turned off isn’t a lot of fun. After a few houses it becomes a chore so its a clear indication that they are committed to finding a home. It might as well be your home they find.
The decision should be easier with a vacant house. A showing of a vacant property will not interrupt your life. You’ve got monthly holding cost regardless of whether the home is listed or not. I do recommend keeping the heat at a comfortable level; not living temperature but at least warm enough where the buyer is likely to linger and not want to bolt for the car because it is warmer outside in the miserable weather than it is inside. There also needs to be enough lighting that no one kills themselves trying to get to the front door so there are some extra utility costs involved during the winter months. I am considering a seller owned sale, not a bank owned property. We want to stand out, not blend in with those properties.
As a seller in this market you’ve got to be willing to have your house shown when that call comes in and it might not be with that much notice. That can be a real pain. I’m not saying that you have to stop the prep for your dinner party for 16 in three hours but you do need to work with the buyer’s agent to get them in the door. Agents understand (at least deep inside) that your world does not revolve around them but they are also the bridge to connect you with the buyer so that you can move on with the next stage of your lives. Working with them to get the buyer in is a lot more productive than rescheduling the appointment. Some Realtors are working with relocation buyers and they might not be in town next week to look at your home.
Try to “live in it like it is listed” for a week or two. That means that each time you walk out the door the house is ready to show? You don’t need to leave all the lights on or take the dog with you. The idea is that you could run home, turn on the lights and pick up the dog without needing time to clean. Try it. If you’re like most of us it’s harder than it sounds. Always have rugs at the door ways, this will catch any snow and salt.
During winter months buyers are more likely to overlook less than perfect landscaping. If you have a stellar yard that blooms in the spring that’s a consideration. If you have a yard that needs work you’re going to need to do a more through clean up in the spring than now. Curb appeal matters more in the spring and summer, but do consider front door appeal.
With a vacant property, I usually recommend listing it as soon a s the property is ready to be on the market. Real estate slows in winter but dozen’t stop. People often have more time off or are in town for family. If you’re holding the property vacant and off the market you either have the utility costs to hold it safely or need to winterize.
Please make sure that the property has all walkways and drive-ways clear for potential buyers. They will appreciate it and will help your home stand out from the foreclosed ones.
An accurately priced and marketed home will sell at any time of year in any type of market. If you are ready and committed to selling, go for it. You might not be able to paint now but the price will reflect that. Winter time means less inventory for the sellers that are willingly to list now. It means serious buyers and offers on your home.
There has to be some consideration to the fact that inventory is usually higher in the winter but that is usually not because the number of listings increases but the rate of sales decreases. This in turn may result in more days on market. Please feel free to call me and we can discuss what your goals are and make the decision that makes the most sense for you and your family.