The first sign of snowfall isn’t the time many would consider to be ideal for mounting that ‘for-sale’ sign on the lawn.
Spring and fall are the hottest times of the year to buy and sell real estate — the weather is sunny, buyers are more active, your garden looks lush, and the market is ripe with inventory. But, what if you needed to sell your home in the middle of December, or heaven forbid, January? Will the freezing cold and eternal darkness doom your selling prospects for months? That’s unlikely, according to market trends and some real estate professionals.
“It’s an interesting time of year,” says Arianna Codeluppi, an Oakville-based real estate broker with Re/Max AboutTowne. “I would say some Decembers have been my best months of the year.”
Winter is coming, but your hopes of selling and moving shouldn’t be dashed by a few snowflakes. Here, Codeluppi debunks a few winter-selling myths and tells us why entering the market in the cold won’t leave you frozen out from buyers.
Where are my buyers?
“Let’s book a vacation in August! It’ll be a perfect way to cap off the summer before the kids go back to school,” says every buyer in the entire market at the same time.
When we think about the worst times of year to sell a house, winter quickly jumps to mind because we assume the weather will impact our chances of finding a buyer. In reality, the mid-to-late summer months prove to be a much more difficult time to sell — many prospective buyers travel or go on vacation before school or work picks up again.
“Personally, what I’ve experienced and the trends that I’ve seen over the years, more and more, is that July and August are probably the worst time to sell,” says Codeluppi. “People think it’s the summer — the house looks beautiful, people have time to sell a home. But once school ends, we kind of see a screeching halt, then we see people just enjoying their holidays.”
Ironically, Codeluppi finds that December is one of the busiest months for buying and selling. While inventory may be lower, the cold weeds out any maybe-buyers and instead brings in super serious clients who want to close on a property before spring. December to February are very important months for first-time buyers, Codeluppi explains, especially those who are getting married when winter ends.
“I find that it’s a good month because you don’t have as much competition as a seller and the buyers are very motivated to buy a home,” she says. “December [to] January can be a fabulous month to list a house.”
Keep in mind that the weather can be a factor in determining when the spring market begins and ends, creating a ripple effect on December and January’s performance. As Codeluppi explains, if a huge snowstorm hits in January, buyers that are actively looking may slow down their search and stay indoors, then pick back up later on.
Show in the snow
Showing your home is challenging as it is without the added hassle of dealing with wintry weather. Yet, a sprinkling of snow and a well maintained exterior can make for a stunning presentation.
While it is nicer to see flowers and green grass, Codeluppi says that a lack thereof shouldn’t deter buyers. Trees and foliage dusted with snow can add charming character to your home. Snow also works like a magic blanket: Lumpy grass? Begone! Plain backyard? Now it’s fabulous! Dead bush? We don’t know her! Just be sure to touch up your door and trim with a lick of paint before the cold temperatures hit to really make first impressions count.
“The house, if it shows clean and neat and beautifully presented, it will shine through the weather,” says Codeluppi.
Be sure to also keep the front entrance clear of any boots and coats. Keeping winter garments out in the open can make the home seem cluttered and lacking of storage, so Codeluppi recommends storing these items away in other closets during showings.
Black Friday Madness
Listing your home in January seems like a death sentence when there isn’t much inventory on the market to begin with. If Black Friday shopping chaos videos have taught you anything though, it’s that limited supply attracts competition — homes listed in the winter don’t sit on the market forever.
“A seller would not have to worry about their home being on the market for too long,” says Codeluppi. “I think the only time you have to worry about that really is if you’re really overpriced or there’s a real problem with your property.”
Particularly for homes in the entry-level housing price bracket, Codeluppi says that they sell like hotcakes. If your home is priced appropriately and in good condition, multiple offers and interested buyers can be expected, regardless of the season.
“Good property, well staged, well priced — you’ll sell.”