Very often, there’s a good reason why a myth or wives’ tale takes off and gets passed on from generation to generation. Take the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” A United Kingdom study actually found that if everyone over the age of 50 ate one apple every day, there would be about 8,500 fewer heart attacks every year. Other myths, however, don’t really stand up to scientific scrutiny. One such tale is: “Never list your house in the winter.” That’s based primarily on the idea that families don’t want to move their children during a school year. It turns out, though, that this adage may be so wrong as to be upside down.
The real estate tech firm Redfin debunked this myth in 2013 when it discovered that between 2011 and 2013, homeowners had a nine percent greater chance of selling a house in March than in any other month. Additionally, those houses sold in winter got a 1.2 percent higher sales price. So buck tradition and list your house in the winter!
Why List Your House in Winter?
Houses on the market in winter months spent an average of 26 days on the market, compared to 32 days in the summer. Those same Redfin researchers found that the numbers held true in every part of the country. From temperate to frigid climates, there was little difference.
And while you may be able to list a number of reasons why homeowners may not be interested in playing the real estate game in the snow (think icy sidewalks and drafty attics), you may be surprised at the overwhelming evidence that supports the wintertime sales. When you list your house in the wintertime, you’re winning the real estate game.
Consider Homeowners’ Selling in Season
The most compelling reasons to list your house in the cold may not be true for every home seller, but there are enough reasons to push you to give it a try. For example:
- Winter lookers are serious buyers. No one really wants to move their kids mid-school year. Everyone agrees that snow and icy roads are reasons to stay snug inside your current residence. But winter house-hunters usually need to move. Health issues, family responsibilities and work transfers top the list of motivations moving winter buyers.
- Mortgage rates may be sitting at a record low. Talk to your independent mortgage broker about his predictions. Even though he can’t know for sure, trends may show that if you wait much longer, interest rates may start to creep up come spring. Of course this varies from year to year, but very often rates spike in warm weather.
- Offers tend to be firmer in the winter. And you’ll usually be in a better position with fewer shoppers around. You can list your house at a fair market price and expect to get it in the winter. You won’t have to price low, in other words, to get the offers to come in.
- Show off your winterization upgrades. When buyers come looking in winter, they want to talk about heating costs, which makes it an ideal time to talk about the new windows, insulation and sun-catching views of your home. It’s hard to make those features shine in the summer.
- It’s easy to create excitement with holiday décor. While your house may have awesome curb appeal in the spring and summer with your gardens or lawn, you can highlight the interior in the winter with holiday decorations. Overcome any perceived outdoor or indoor deficiencies with holiday aesthetics. And if your yard is less than desirable, no worries! Winter snow can hide many inadequacies.
- Set a welcoming tone with winter staging. Listing your house in the wintertime provides an opportunity to have a roaring fire in the fireplace, throw comfy blankets over the sofa and set a warm ambiance with additional indoor lighting. It’s a little more difficult to sell “cozy” in the summer.
- You have way less competition. It’s true that more homeowners list in the spring and summer. And that means more competition. In the warm months, you have to pay more attention to marketing, pricing and staging when buyers have so much more to compare.
- Late winter gives you a head start. Another tactic is to list your house in February to get a head start on the spring and summer buyers who may start their searching a month or two before they plan on getting really serious.
- Realtors can give you more attention. The most popular (and successful) Realtors in your area aren’t inundated with new listings in the winter and so can give your property a little more attention. Others who don’t have quite the inventory to show their clients will beat a path to your door. Literally.
- Stand out and make your own rules. As anyone who works in the real estate industry — like Zack Adam of Prime Mortgage Lending of West Asheville (dba PrimeRate Mortgage Lending) — will tell you, there really aren’t any hard and fast rules about when to list your house. Do what works for you and don’t let any old wives’ tale or real estate myth govern your decision.