Selling a home in winter may be uncommon, but it has its perks. The real estate market is highly competitive, and if you’re looking to sell your home without all the hassle of working in peak season, selling in winter can be a great decision.
Imagine a potential homebuyer driving around your town, passing your place for sale, and not encountering another listing for miles. Being the only listing on the block can increase your chances of landing a sale sooner, and if you’re looking to take the plunge, we’re here to help.
We’ve rounded up the best tips from HomeLight‘s best real estate agents to help you plan for your winter home sale. Read on to learn more tips on selling and preparing your home for winter before planting a for-sale sign in your front yard.
The Off-Season Advantage
While selling in the winter isn’t so common, it definitely makes your home stand out to available buyers. This means in some ways it’s always a seller’s market during the winter season, especially if you fix up your home and make it irresistible to home shoppers.
During the winter months, buyer demand tends to be lower compared to spring and summer. With less competition from other sellers, you have a greater chance of attracting serious buyers who are motivated to purchase a home during the off-season. Your home will have more visibility, and you may even be able to negotiate a better sales price.
If you’re planning on selling your home this winter, here’s what 500 top real estate agents say you should do to attract buyers, according to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Survey.
First off, carefully examine your home from a potential buyer’s perspective. How are the driveway and walkway holding up? How cozy is your kitchen? Do you feel a draft in any of the rooms? How well does your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system work?
These may be difficult questions to ask yourself because the answers may point to the need to spend some money on updates and repairs. However, they’re necessary if you want to make your home more attractive to buyers. Your home may be more than habitable for you, but when you look at the house’s interior and exterior objectively, is it attractive to a potential homebuyer?
Your home’s aesthetic is just as important in the winter as it is in any other season, and if you want to know how to boost curb appeal, there are a few simple ways to make your home look better than ever to potential buyers during the cold season. Be sure to clear snow and ice from walkways, stairs, and driveways to give your home a cleaner look. While you’re at it, double-check that your outdoor lighting is functional, trim back overgrown bushes and trees, and repair any exterior damage. When it comes time to show your home, welcome buyers inside with festive holiday wreaths and lights.
On the inside, try maximizing natural light by opening blinds, replacing burnt-out light bulbs, and cleaning fixtures. Paint the walls with neutral colors if needed and deep clean carpets and floors before showing. When organizing your home, be sure to stage each room by decluttering and arranging furniture to best utilize the space.
Remember, small upgrades can go a long way. Replace old or leaky faucets and showerheads in bathrooms and replace kitchen appliances if they’re outdated. If you’re interested in bigger upgrades, installing new carpeting and replacing hollow-core doors with solid wood doors can help give buyers a great first impression.
Timing the Sale
Selling your home in late fall or early winter allows you to do pre-sale preparation while the weather still permits. You’ll have time to power wash siding, paint exterior trim, landscape the yard, and complete other outdoor projects before it gets too chilly.
If possible, try to have your home listed by early December. This timeframe capitalizes on families looking to get settled before the holidays or winter school break. January and February are typically the slowest months for home sales but don’t get discouraged if you haven’t found a buyer by early spring.
It’s important to understand that homes typically sell for a lower price in winter than during peak seasons. You’ll have fewer buyers bidding on your home, so its market value may be slightly reduced, but discussing pricing strategies with your real estate agent can help maximize your sale price.
Work closely with your agent to determine an optimal listing price and stay up-to-date by making sure you have an accurate appraisal based on recent comparable sales in your neighborhood. When deciding on a final price, don’t inflate your asking price too high, but don’t sacrifice dollars by pricing too low either. Also, factor in any credits or incentives you’re willing to offer buyers. These could include a home warranty, closing cost credits, or other terms to make your listing more appealing.
Preparing for Showings
When showing your home, try to schedule showings around times like mid-morning or early afternoon when natural light is more abundant. Be sure to turn on all interior lights, keep walkways clear of snow and ice, crank up the heat so buyers feel warm and cozy, and bake cookies before guests arrive to create an inviting aroma.
Stage each room by decluttering surfaces, arranging furnishings, and putting away personal memorabilia and valuables.
Don’t underestimate how much a good cleaning can do for potential buyers. Your bathrooms should sparkle and shine, beds should be neatly made, and kitchens and dining areas should be spotless to give buyers the best impression of your home.
When it comes time for buyers to arrive, welcome them at the door and be as friendly as possible. Don’t follow them from room to room, but make yourself available to answer any questions they may have. Make sure to be proud of your home and highlight special features that might not be obvious at first glance. After all, you’re the one who knows your home best, and your input could go a long way toward making a sale.
So, Is Selling a Home in Winter a Good Idea?
Although it requires more effort, selling a home during winter can be rewarding. Your home will stand out with less competition, and serious buyers scouring the market will be more likely to view it. If you put in the work to give your home curb appeal and price it right based on market conditions, you could end up making a great sale. For extra help, partner with a talented real estate agent who excels in off-season sales. Even though winter usually means a slower housing market, it doesn’t have to stop you from making your best sale ever.
FAQs About Selling Your Home in Winter
Should I wait until spring to sell my home?
Waiting until spring can work in your favor if you need time to complete repairs or improvements. However, buying activity picks up in spring, so you’ll have more competition. Selling in winter lets you capitalize on less competition, but there’s really no right or wrong answer. Your individual selling needs will vary, so consider your preferences before listing.
How can I make my home feel warm and inviting in winter?
Focus on stringing lights outside, clearing away snow, adding wreaths to the exterior, and displaying festive decorations. Inside, make sure the home is cozy with adequate heat, lit fireplaces, warm blankets, and holiday decor. If you want to go the extra mile, bake cookies and brew coffee to give your home a delicious smell before showings.
What maintenance tasks should I do before listing my home in winter?
Complete any exterior paint touch-ups, power wash siding, clean gutters, prune trees and shrubs, improve exterior lighting, repair cracks in the driveway, and perform all regular winter home maintenance chores before listing. Inside the home, declutter rooms, deep clean carpets, update your lighting fixtures, paint walls neutral colors, and tidy up personal belongings. If you’re not sure what else to do to prepare, check out these winter home maintenance tips for more options.
Should I offer buyers any credits or incentives if I'm selling in winter?
Incentives like a home warranty, closing credits, or other buyer-friendly terms can attract buyers during the off-season. Discuss options with your real estate agent before offering. Remember, even small incentives can help sweeten the deal and motivate buyers to purchase your home in winter.
How do I set a listing price for a winter sale?
Work closely with your agent to determine a fair market value. Homes often sell for slightly less in winter than in spring or summer, so try to price it right to generate buyer interest, but don’t dip too low in a desperate attempt to sell. Consider implementing winter home decor tips and winter landscaping ideas to boost visual appeal and up your price.