How can I possibly claim that winter is the best time to sell a house? I’ll share my experience plus my best tips for selling a house in the winter!
Was the title of this blog post shocking to you? Are you firmly in the “I must sell my house during spring” camp?
If so, I’m not surprised, since this is such a common misconception. In fact, I held firmly to this belief as well before the circumstances of our last move dictated that we list our home in January here in Northeast Ohio (where the temps are frigid and the snow is plentiful that time of year).
Although we had some trepidation about selling a house in winter, the experience was nothing short of fantastic. After one open house and a crazy number of house showings over the course of three days, we received multiple offers and went under contract immediately.
The view from my car as I spied on our Open House activity
Compared to our experience with selling prior homes during the spring and summer seasons, we are now firm believers that winter is the best time of year to sell a house.
Why Winter May Be The Best Time to Sell a House
Planning a move in the new year?
Since winter is fast approaching, it’s the perfect opportunity to chat about why I believe that the winter months are the best time to list a house and the best months to sell a home.
Here are my top 3 reasons to sell your home in the winter.
1. Fewer Sellers (aka Less Competition)
Since everyone else is waiting until the spring to list their home, you’ll find that the competition you face as a home seller is significantly less compared to other months. We definitely found this to be the case.
And compared to all of the other homes in our area selling in our price range, our home was the most appealing to buyers. This was the direct consequence of all of the hard work we put in on the front end with getting our house ready to sell during the prior fall and staging it properly.
2. More Serious Buyers
Although there are far fewer active home buyers during the winter months, the ones who are looking are serious buyers. As a consequence, you won’t find yourself wasting time courting people who really have no intention of purchasing a home anytime soon.
Unlike the casual buyers of spring and summer who frequent open houses for fun (or to just be nosy), the winter buyer means business. There’s usually a compelling reason that’s fueling their house hunt during these frigid months. More times than not, it involves some form of hard deadline (a relocation, the end of a lease, etc.).
The people who attended our open house definitely fell into the category of serious buyers. Many of them scheduled a second showing within 12 hours of the open house. Of those who completed a second showing, most of them put in an offer within the following 24 hours.
3. More Attention from Your Real Estate Agent
Since home buyers and sellers are more scarce during the winter months, real estate agents tend to be less busy. This can benefit you as a seller in many ways. If an agent is hungry for your business, they may offer you a reduced commission in order to win your business.
Since their client load is light, your agent is likely able to spend more time creating an effective marketing plan for your home. As winter sellers, we definitely benefitted in the form of increased personalized attention from our Realtor during the selling process.
It’s simple math. You’ll get more attention when your home is one of a handful the agency is marketing in the winter vs. one of several hundred they are marketing in the spring.
Selling a House in Winter? Follow These Tips
Winter Home Selling Basics
Eliminate Winter Hazards
With all of the benefits of listing a house to sell during the winter months, there are a few drawbacks to selling a house in winter if you live in a cold climate. The weather can create a series of winter hazards that can be dangerous.
You’ll need to make eliminating winter hazards a priority. Clear dangerous icicles from your property and always maintain a clear walkway from the driveway to the front door. The last thing you need is to have a potential homebuyer or agent get injured while viewing your home.
Protect Your Floors
If you live in a cold climate, you’ll need to take some precautions to prevent home buyers from tracking snow, slush onto your floors (especially if you had your carpets professionally cleaned as part of your pre-home sale prep).
When preparing for an open house or a home showing, set up a shoe removal station in the entryway. Not only will it protect your floors, but it will also send a message to potential home buyers that you take care of your home.
Highlight Key Exterior Features Using Seasonal Photos
One of the pros of selling a house in winter is that the labor-intensive task of keeping the lawn and landscaping pristinely manicured is eliminated. On the other hand, a blanket of snow prevents you from showing off your home’s exterior. And that can be a huge bummer if some of your home’s greatest selling features are exterior ones.
For example, it was difficult for buyers who visited our home during January to envision themselves enjoying the large vinyl deck and pergola during the summer months.
In order to make sure buyers didn’t look past this awesome selling feature, I displayed a photo book during home showings that contained photos of our awesome entertaining spaces — the deck and the stamped concrete patio — in their summer glory.
Your Winter Home Selling Decorating Plan
Make Warm and Cozy Your Winter Home Selling Mantra
Creating a warm and cozy atmosphere for buyers helps them to envision themselves enjoying the home during wintertime and future holidays.
Simple ways to evoke that warm and cozy feeling include:
- making sure the thermostat is set to a comfortable temperature
- accentuating a fireplace if you have one
- using soft throw blankets and winter pillows in your home decor
- displaying candles (high quality LED candles are a great addition)
- having comfort foods such as mulled cider or freshly baked cookies available.
Say YES to Seasonal and Holiday Decor
Many people wonder if you should decorate your home for the holiday season if your home is on the market during this time. I say absolutely!
The key to holiday decorating during the home selling process is to keep it simple, avoid decorations with a religious connotation, and use decor that spans that work for the holiday and across the winter season (get more specific holiday home staging tips here).
Let’s take a peek at specific examples of appropriate seasonal decor.
The front entryway is a key area to focus on when it comes to setting the winter scene. You can never go wrong with a tasteful wreath and porch pots full of seasonal greenery (you can easily DIY a winter porch pot with this tutorial).
I used more neutral winter decor items to highlight the built-in shelving in my office space:
This simple vignette adds a touch of winter flair without screaming “Christmas”:
Need more inspiration? Check out this collection of winter decorating ideas you can keep up all season long.
So did I convince you that winter is the best time to sell a house? Have you listed a house in the winter? How did the selling process unfold for you?
I truly hope that these tips for selling a house in winter will be super helpful as you embark on your winter home selling adventure. Once you have that signed contract, be sure to check out this comprehensive guide to organizing your move!
More Valuable Tips for Home Sellers:
- How to Get Your House Ready to Sell
- Pro House Staging Tips for Sellers
- Open House Checklist for Sellers
- Home Upgrade Cheat Sheet for Sellers
- Creative Repurposing Ideas for Home Staging