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Is it Worth It to List Your House During the Winter in 2020-2021?


Posted on September 28th, 2020 at 10:51 AM
Is it Worth It to List Your House During the Winter in 2020-2021?

If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably kicking around the idea of selling your home during the “off season.” That’s right: Winter is considered the “off season” when it comes to selling real estate. You may even be wondering if you missed your shot during the summer, or if you’ll still have a good chance of finding a buyer, even with snow in the forecast.

Before we go further, it’s important to remember that selling and buying real estate is as much a personal decision as it is a business decision. Meaning, if you’re in a situation where you need to sell your home, you may not have the option of waiting until the summer. If you want or need to move this winter, a seasoned real estate agent can help you successfully sell your house. To ensure you get top dollar for your home, continue reading this blog post to see how selling during winter might affect your bottom line.

Benefits of Listing Your Home in the Winter

While the summer is the “ideal” season to sell your home, the winter does come with its own set of perks. In few locations are these benefits more applicable than in Erie County for the reasons listed here:

Real Estate Experts: Erie Is a “Very Hot” Market

“The market is very strong in Erie County,” says PA licensed Real Estate Broker/Owner: Natalie Washburn. “It’s the opposite of what I think most people thought it would be.” While Realtor.com predicts that, nationally, prices for entry-level homes will remain competitive and higher-end homes may take longer to sell, it appears that everything is selling in Erie.

“There is a huge uptick in upsizing, and new construction is booming right now,” notes Natalie. “I think a lot of people are thinking the same thing, ‘If we’re going to build bigger and get exactly what we want, now is the time.’”

But what exactly is driving the market? “For one, you have interest rates at historic lows,” says Natalie. “Secondly, people are spending a lot more time at home, and I think they’re realizing, ‘Wow, this isn’t the house we need. It’s time to buy or build a bigger home.’”

Despite boasting winter temperatures that dip well below zero and averaging 101 inches of snow, Erie County’s year-round market is “very hot” according to Zillow’s Market Temperature. Home values rose 4.3% last year, and Zillow predicts they will rise 4.6% this year, and continue well into 2021.

Percentage of Home Buyers Chart

Higher Percentage of Real Buyers Looking at Your Home, Fewer Window Shoppers

Aside from Erie remaining a hot market, there are other perks to selling during the coldest time of the year. While most people want to be curled up under a blanket during the winter months, the buyers that are actively looking tend to be serious about making a move. Zillow says that there are fewer “window shoppers” during the winter and more real buyers looking at homes.

Less Inventory in Winter Means Your Home Can Shine

“The average seller may think, ‘Oh, I need to wait until spring or summer to sell my home. The yard looks great and the flowers are in bloom,’” Natalie says. “But the flipside is, you also have a lot of competitors. During the winter months, buyers don’t have that inventory.”

Essentially, your home may stand out because there are fewer houses on the market during the winter for buyers to choose from because fewer homeowners tend to list their houses for sale during the coldest part of the year. Less housing inventory in your area may create a higher demand for homes that are available.

Buyers planning on making an upcoming house purchase may also be hoping to capture a tax break before the year ends. Homeowners who itemize deductions can generally expect the following real estate transactions to be tax-deductible:

  • Real estate taxes
  • Private mortgage insurance (PMI) costs
  • Mortgage interest

Negatives of Selling in the Winter: Lower Average Sales Price 

Here is the situation: It is more likely that you may get less money for your house if you sell during the winter. Nationally, the best time to sell a house to maximize return and minimize time on the market, according to Zillow, is May 1 to May 15. Homes sold during this period sold six days faster and, on average, for $1,600 more than the average listing.

According to Zillow research, 23% fewer homes are sold in winter than in the spring. Zillow also notes, however, that winter home sales in the United States are increasing, possibly because the housing market is expanding in general, and there are more buyers for each season of the year.

Additionally, you may have to be a bit more patient if you’re selling between December and February. Homes tend to stay on the market a little longer in the winter with a median of 92 days nationwide during 2018-2019 as compared to a median of 76 days throughout the rest of that same year.

According to the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, Pennsylvanian sellers get the best price for their homes from May to August, which corresponds with the conventional wisdom that buyers want to purchase a new house before the school year starts. Of course, not every potential homebuyer has children: you and your real estate agent can assess what demographic will most likely purchase your residence.

However, not every real estate decision comes down to money. If you’ve found the perfect new home for your family and are ready to make a move, selling during the winter might be worth it. Similarly, if you need to relocate for a new job, it wouldn’t make sense to wait until May to sell because you’d have to pay housing expenses on two properties.

How to Sell Smart During the Winter

fireplace

If you choose to list your home while it’s cold outside, optimize your property’s appeal by making it exceptionally warm and inviting. Display minimal, tasteful holiday decorations so potential buyers can envision their family celebrating in the space. Baking cookies before an open house or showing always makes your home smell great, but it’s especially enticing during Christmas. If you have a fireplace, light it. Swap out low wattage bulbs with high wattage ones to foster a cozy feeling and create a warm glow to those driving by. 

Keep walkways shoveled and gutters clear of debris. Make the most of pale winter sunlight by keeping windows sparkling clean. Add strategically placed mirrors to amplify natural light. Consider replacing heavy drapes with lightweight curtains. 

Just as you would during the warmer months, remove clutter and personal photographs. Repaint rooms that need it, or at least wash the walls. Essentially, you want to make your house look so good that you might end up having second thoughts about selling.

Winter buyers who are reluctant to traipse through the snow to visit houses will rely heavily on online photographs to decide which ones are worth seeing in person. Make sure your home’s pictures show your property in the best possible light.

 

Ready to Sell Your House?

Real estate decisions can be daunting. Thankfully, Erie has an agency that knows the ins and outs of selling in this area during every season. “It’s important to have a real estate agent on your side during the winter,” notes Natalie. “A lot of agents have a  list of clients looking for homes in a certain price range, they have tips for making your house more sellable, and from a contractual standpoint, it’s helpful to have guidance through the selling process.”

Maleno, one of the leading new construction and real estate agencies in Erie, PA, has a team of professional realtors who can provide guidance about the perfect time to list your home. If you’re ready to have a conversation about selling your house, visit our contact page today.

Contributed by Matt Flowers

 

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