Originally Posted by Jessi Hall
In most parts of the country, winter is a slower time for real estate sales. Buyers hibernate, inventory shrinks, and sales languish.
Selling a home in winter can be a bit more challenging, but don’t panic. With a few winter-specific selling tips in your pocket, you’ll be able to put the best face on any winter listing.
Tip #1: Display the year-round beauty of your listing.
Landscaping typically doesn’t look its best during the winter months. Lawns are brown, trees are bare, and shrubs are shriveled.
Give buyers a sense of the year-round beauty of your listing. Display spring, summer and fall photos of your listing along with your open house marketing materials.
Tip #2: “Warm and cozy” is key.
Stepping from the December chill into a warm, snug home will result in sighs of relief. Stepping into a drafty, unheated space will result in sighs of annoyance.
Create a warm and welcoming ambiance to encourage the right buyer reaction:
- Set the thermostat to a comfortable level (between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Don’t start a fire (for safety reasons), but do highlight a functional fireplace.
- Open shades and blinds to let in natural light and warmth.
- Advise sellers to seal window and door cracks.
- Add snuggly throws to seating areas.
Tip #3: Take advantage of the holiday season.
Tasteful holiday decorations can add joy and festivity to any listing. Twinkling Christmas lights or a scented holiday candle can welcome buyers and lift spirits. Take advantage of the holiday season by encouraging sellers to incorporate attractive holiday décor.
Tip #4: Remember that lending will still be tight this winter.
Most industry experts agree that conventional lending standards will remain tight over the winter. The average conventional purchaser maintained a FICO score of 762, and a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 79 percent in September, 2012. Those impressive figures indicate that less-perfect borrowers will have a hard time obtaining conventional financing.
FHA and VA loan programs continue to operate under flexible credit standards, but can’t be utilized for all property purchases.
Keep the tight lending climate in mind when pricing and marketing your winter listings.
Tip #5: Use a smaller inventory to your advantage.
Inventory often shrinks during the winter. With fewer houses on the market, it’s easier to give your listing a comparative advantage.
Review comps and make a list of your home’s unbeatable features. Is your house the only one in its price range with a fireplace? Is your listing the only home available within a preferred school district?
Unique features can be tough for buyers to notice on their own, so don’t be hesitant to boast your listing’s greatness. Those distinct advantages could make the difference between a winter sale and a winter slump.
Best wishes for a productive winter!
Photos courtesy of Lee Coursey, nan palmero, Steenbergs, Images_of_Money and AKZOphoto