Here in New England as the temperatures drop, so goes the traffic of buyers. Or at least that is the traditional belief of many real estate professionals. While it is true that buyer traffic does drop off in the cooler months, nobody has proved that transaction volume drops by similar numbers. In my opinion it is a perception issue. Qualified motivated buyers remain in the market year round. Time and individual circumstances dictate this from a buyer point of view. So the perception of less traffic makes one feel as if it is harder to sell in the offseason. At the end of the day, it is easier for the listing agent and the seller to sell in the offseason since there are fewer tire kickers, or nosey neighbors in the market. As a REALTOR, I would always prefer to deal with a handful of quality buyers than a plethora of buyers that are a mixed bag of indecision and motivation.
The only legitimate issue that doesn’t help with selling in the winter months is the lack of quality outdoor photos. Outdoor photos tend to be more gray and less colorful than their spring and summer peers. However this can be easily remedied with some advance planning by taking the exteriors shots in the summer months. Most homes exteriors show very well in the spring and summer with the yard plantings are green and full and not so well in the winter months. But, a well-educated buyer can usually see past the less than full bloom yard.
Expectations for this year’s fall & winter markets.
This fall and into the winter holds a different dynamic than years past. For the past several years we have had the benefit of super low interest rates. Many of the pundits seem to agree in the popular press that interest rates will rise in the near future as the economy gains positive momentum. This is widely noted. Thus many buyers are scrambling to get a home under agreement and lock in what are historically low interest rates before the perceived rise in interest rates and diminish the buyer’s purchasing power. This unique dynamic is creating an interesting scenario in the market today, and should have a positive impact on demand for the “offseason” selling months. These buyers are not going away, as they appear to have a time sensitive motivation.
How will this offseason be different from last year.
See above, but last year did not hold the specter of rising interest rates, sometimes known as borrowing costs, or the cost of money.
What are the pros & cons of attempting to list a home in “the offseason?”
The pros of listing in the offseason are clearly the lower competition from a lower inventory point of view. With the common perception that the spring is the best time to list and sell a home, many homes come off the market in the fall or around the Holidays. Hence as a seller there are fewer homes to compete with for buyers. The lower inventory could be attributed to the lower buyer interest in the market. This also allows for serious buyers to appear above the noise of the curious buyer.
On of the cons of listing in the “offseason” is the perceived lower traffic, having buyers trek through your home during the holiday season, and having to keep an above orderly home during the holiday season, a time where such demands can be a challenge. However those buyers that are looking at this time of the year tend to be much more serious and motivated. And this can make it well worth the effort to show your home as a seller.
Advice for successfully selling in the winter months.
The first thought that comes to mind is odor. In the winter months here in New England, it is harder to let fresh air in the home while maintaining the heat. However, little rover’s odor can be a huge deterrent to a buyer. It is important to keep your home smelling fresh and clean. Air purifiers can be a huge help, followed by clean carpets, and if possible, and air exchange device.
The second thought is to use the holiday season to market your home. Why not put a note on the back of your holiday cards letting people know that your home is for sale. Or host a holiday open house using your home decorating to showcase how well your home functions for family gatherings, etc.
Mistakes should sellers avoid during the winter months.
The winter months, time for the holidays. Over decorating your home for the holidays can be a family tradition, and you may deem it wonderful, but the same may not ring true for your buyer. Keep your home happy and cheerful, but don’t let the holidays over run your home.
This is a guest blog post from Bill Tierney, an internet savvy REALTOR who covers the South Shore real estate market for William Raveis Real Estate in their Scituate, MA office. Bill can be reached via email at William.Tierney@Raveis.com or by phone at 781-545-1533. Bill has been a licensed real estate agent since 2004 and has extensive experience.