Selling your home in the winter can be a positive experience. Proper preparation and motivation to compromise can help a seller move their home quickly while still realizing a good asking price.

Springtime is considered the beginning of “selling season” for single-family homes, with good reason. Potential buyers consider moving over the summer, while kids are out of school, the days are longer, meaning more daylight viewing opportunities, and for most parts of the country, there’s no snow or slush to trek through – and track in! – while home shopping. Putting your home on the market may seem counterintuitive at first, but it could actually be the prime time – and here’s why.

Reed Wilson on … Do Homes Sell in the Winter?


White toy house wrapped in a red scarf on a white table

Do Houses Sell In the Winter…November and December?

The short answer? Yes. Do you stand a better chance of a “bidding war” in the winter? That depends on your market. Hiring the right real estate agent, one with a deep knowledge of the area, its trends, and comparative pricing is key to securing those desirable multiple offers. Buyers in the winter often have more of a sense of urgency than spring and summer buyers. Sudden job transfers and unexpected changes in a family dynamic are the most common reasons to list a home in November or December.

Many sellers take their homes off the market in the late fall, whether because they believe that wintertime is a bad time to sell or they don’t want the added stress of showing their home during the holiday whirlwind. This leaves a smaller selection for motivated buyers. Recent reports indicate that about half of the home buyers now don’t have children, so concerns about school schedules wouldn’t apply. Eager November and December buyers aren’t fazed by shorter daylight hours or viewing homes on a cold day.

Meet Reed Wilson, Broker, The Wilson Group


How Do I Sell My Home On The Holidays?

Buyers squeezing in showings between Black Friday sales, holiday recitals, and gift-buying are probably very serious. While these buyers are serious, most people have less time to browse and tighter schedules in November and December than in the spring and summer. This means you, as the seller, may have to be more flexible about home viewing times than in other seasons. Consider visiting relatives or taking a vacation over the holidays – this opens your house up for your realtor to show, as well as takes some of the pressure of both showing a home and hosting visitors off you, the seller. If you do travel, hire a housekeeping service to dust and vacuum during your absence.

Don’t forget the importance of marketing your home in the winter. First impressions matter, so when placing your home’s photo collection online, consider a mix of shots. Pictures from the spring, with bright flowers and green grass, have better curb appeal than barren winter trees or gloomy skies, while indoor shots in December may evoke a more emotional response from buyers. Consult with your real estate agent about the right tone to set when placing your online listing.

cartoon image winter holidays car with suitcases on top

Decorating for the Winter

Take advantage of the cold temperatures and the festive air that Thanksgiving and Christmas bring by making your home a cozy showpiece. Turn up the thermostat a bit higher than usual – buyers tromping around from house to house will appreciate the warm air. A small, welcoming fire crackling in the living room and soft holiday music add a sensory element of home and comfort. Sugar cookies and apple cider make lovely treats to offer during an open house, adding to the homey feel. Allow winter staging to be your friend by draping soft throws across furniture and replacing your bulbs with brighter, warmer light to welcome those evening viewers.

Most importantly, make sure that potential buyers are physically able to get to your home This may mean extra shoveling for you, but keeping the path to your house clear of snow and slush makes it more welcoming – and also less messy for you afterward! Invest in thick doormats that absorb much of the winter slush and be sure to keep your sidewalks salted to prevent dangerous ice. If your home has street parking, consider keeping one or two places shoveled so buyers don’t have to hop over snowdrifts to reach the sidewalk. If you don’t already have a coat tree or umbrella stand at your front door, buy one. Buyers will appreciate having a place to hang their wet coats; plus, not having to carry them invites them to stay longer.

Selling Your Home During the Holidays With Home Staging


Do I Decorate For Holidays If My Home Is On Market?

The short answer? Yes! A better answer? Yes, but make sure you keep it neutral. When staging your home for winter buyers, definitely play up the warm, cozy feel of the season with stacked logs by the fireplace, decorative pine accents, and winter accessories and linens. Avoid too much personal dΓ©cor – while children’s handmade ornaments are a treasure, placing too many of your own family’s personalized holiday decorations out makes it more difficult for buyers to picture their own family celebrating there.

Winter staging gives you a little more leeway, although think “mountain lodge” instead of “Christmas Party.” Avoid dΓ©cor that centers too much around a particular holiday celebration, especially a religious one. When showing a home, keep the kitsch to a minimum. Too much can end up making a home look cluttered – instead of lawn displays and a thoroughly decked hall, opt instead for one tree with neutral white lights and a few (fake) gifts beneath.

Are Homes Cheaper In Winter?

Selling a home during the winter isn’t a lost cause; in fact, some markets command higher prices in the winter versus the summer. Tighter inventory can mean buyers have less room to negotiate, which could end up with an offer at or above list price. On the other hand, fewer buyers may make sellers more likely to accept offers below their list price. Markets vary widely by region, but most experts agree with Forbes that wintertime may be the best time for a great deal on a house. Some buyers may also have the added incentive of getting the home purchased before December 31, allowing them to take advantage of tax breaks in the spring.

 

scrabble pieces spelling tax deductions with a coffee cup

Real Estate Market

Richmond, VA, follows the average trends in the real estate market. Home prices have been increasing an average of 1%, or $2000, year over year, with an average increase of $10 per square foot over a five-year span. Reports indicate that the number of homes sold in late fall through early winter over the last few years has been lower than any other time of year; however, average prices are higher during this time than many other months out of the year. In November of 2017, Richmond homes sold at over 99 percent of list price. This indicates that while not as many homes are changing hands during the winter, those that are, tend to be priced higher. Your real estate agent at The Wilson Group can help you better match your own property to your community’s comp set.

How Do I Prepare My Home For Cold Weather?

Winter may be a better time for buyers to assess the energy efficiency of your home – small drafts are more noticeable curing colder months and little leaks may be more apparent. Before putting your home on the market, make sure to have it “winterized” – bulk up or replace insulation where needed, have your HVAC tuned up and change the filters, and consider having your fireplace professionally cleaned. Clear the gutters of leaves and fall debris and if weather allows and even consider sealing your driveway to enhance curb appeal.

Many real estate agents recommend having your home inspected before placing it on the market – and they’re right! Hiring a professional to ensure that your Richmond home is ready for snow and winter storms adds another layer of authenticity to potential buyers. Make sure that you document the upgrades and repairs that you do, so that you’re in a better position to avoid concessions at closing.

More About Inspection…


What Is The Best Month For Selling A Home?

November, according to Forbes Magazine is the best month to sell a home in the winter. Buyers and sellers both tend to prefer to have the home sale finalized and ready for closing before the end of the year. People moving in the wintertime, even those without children in school, find it easier to complete the process before December. Inventory is tighter in many markets, and buyers in the late fall tend to be more motivated than those in the spring and summer.

Are You Ready To Sell Your Home?

There’s a difference between needing to sell your home and wanting to sell your home. Ideally, your house should be an investment that can help fund your life changes – increasing family size, extra funds for retirement – as well as make you a little profit and build your credit and financial history. While you might be ready to sell your home by necessity, being ready to sell your home to get the most value from the process is something different.

 

hand drawing question mark and caption reads: are you ready?

Are You Really Ready?

Consult with a professional real estate to take an inventory of your current home’s value in your housing market, then determine your current equity using your own mortgage statements. If you have less than 20 percent equity, it might be wise to wait another year and build up more. Ideally, you should have enough equity to pay off your current mortgage and afford at least a 20 percent down payment on your new home. If you have enough equity to cover more than 20 percent for a down payment in a new house, you can avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), saving hundreds each year.

Once you’ve realized enough equity, it’s time to take a hard look at your own finances. If you’re out of debt and have a comfortable 3 to 6-month cushion in savings (not including retirement accounts), then you should be ready to fund the move on your own. This includes movers, any deposits, transportation, and all the incidental costs that come along with moving to a new home.

How Can I Sell My House Quickly?

The short answer? Be willing to compromise. The better answer? Selling a home fast, versus selling a home at the maximum value, may mean two different things. Enhancing curb appeal and giving the interior a quick upgrade, including fresh paint and small repairs, can go a long way to making a better first impression. However, motivated sellers may not be able to wait for multiple offers, or may have to offer concessions at closing to ensure a quick sale. If you’re prepared to be flexible with buyer requests, then you’ll stand a better chance of moving your home quickly.

Consider selling your house as-is. You may not be able to list it as high, as there are some cosmetic or other repairs needed, but the lower price may attract a buyer on a budget or a talented DIY investor. Getting your home sold fast means getting it out in front of people, so hire an experienced Realtor and make sure that everyone in your social circle knows you’re ready to sell.

The Wilson Group

The Wilson Group has a long history of helping Richmond families buy and sell homes. Whether you’re looking for a starter house or ready to invest in your forever home, we have the knowledge and experience to make the home selling and buying process as stress-free and seamless as possible. Visit us online for more information or give us a call. We’re here for you! See below for some of Richmond’s available home now!


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