Feel like you missed your opportunity to buy or sell a home now that summer’s over? While it’s true that the months of May through August account for 40% of the average year’s total home-selling volume, both buyers and sellers can find advantages to making the move during winter.
If you want (or need) to buy or sell your house outside of the peak season, here are some things to keep in mind to help make your experience a good one.
Potential advantages of buying a home in winter
There are several great reasons to take advantage of real estate’s off-season, including the fact that you’ll face less competition from fellow buyers and that you’ll likely deal with more motivated sellers.
Given that combination of factors, prices tend to be lower, and you may be able to purchase the same house for less money in the winter than you could buy it for in the warmer months.
What downsides should buyers be aware of?
That doesn’t mean buying a house in the winter comes without challenges. While there may be fewer buyers to compete against, you may find you have fewer options to choose from because housing inventory is lower, too.
Sellers may not want to deal with the hassle of listing their home and potentially moving during bad weather or during the holiday season. In some locales, construction that might add to inventory isn’t possible during winter months.
Bad weather might also make it more difficult to inspect a home as closely as you would like. Snow can cover yards and roofs, and unpleasantly cold temperatures might discourage some from spending a lot of time on exteriors or basements. Be sure your home inspector details anything they aren’t able to look at due to weather conditions.
Potential advantages of selling a home in winter
For sellers, winter could provide a great opportunity to list your home. Keeping your home listed through December and January might help you stand out among competing sellers who choose to avoid listing during these months. Your home could be one of the few available during this time, positioning you to take advantage of a low-inventory market.
Winter buyers may be up against their own deadline, such as relocation or an expiring lease, and therefore motivated to get settled in their new place as soon as possible. They may not want to go an extra round or two of negotiations.
What downsides should sellers be aware of?
In much of the country, one drawback of trying to sell in the winter is the snow or bleak landscapes that impact the curb appeal of your home. Plan ahead, if you can, and snap photos in the months prior, when grass is lush and flowers are in bloom.
Bad or unpleasant weather makes buyers reluctant to pound the pavement looking at homes — so make yours as inviting as possible. If it snows in your area, keep a clear path shoveled for your prospective buyers and take care of any patches of ice by salting walkways. Place boot trays in entryways for wet shoes, and consider investing in a smart thermostat. Not only are smart thermostats enticing for buyers, they also allow you to remotely control the house so that — without having to leave the heat blasting all day — it can be warm when buyers arrive.
Buying or selling a home outside of peak season is certainly feasible — and common! Being aware of the above pros and cons is the first step to working toward making your experience as smooth as possible.