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Winter Listing

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Does the real estate market hibernate for the winter? Does it make sense to list your home in December (and in the long winter beyond)? Should you wait? For sellers, there are only 2 questions to consider; Do you want to list in the winter? Are there buyers looking?

Here’s the thing, if you decide to try to sell your house in the winter (actually, anytime) it is an inconvenience. And if you’re not ready or willing to put up with that inconvenience then it’s fine to hold off for you. Winter certainly poses a few extra challenges, like snow, darkness, and the holidays. Let’s start with the holiday season as we are currently knee deep in it. Houses can show beautifully when they’re all decorated. It can be warm and welcoming and make a potential buyer picture themselves there. However, it can also make showings all that more stressful for the seller. So if that seems like too much for you, that’s ok. Maybe hold off until the first week of January, assuming you’re ok with the other challenges a North Country Winter brings.

For me, the dark, cold, world in the winter makes me tempted to come home, put on my cozy pants, and not go out again. Maybe that’s just me…. However, if you decide to list your home, you’ll still need to leave for showings. You need to be prepared to leave the coziness of your home to allow others to fall in love with it.

Now, maybe your house is vacant and you’re thinking, well this might just be perfect timing. Then comes snow. Whether or not you are occupying the house that is for sale, you will need to make sure snow is removed and it is safe for buyers to come and go. You’ll also want to make sure you or someone you trust is around to make sure the house remains heated, etc. An unheated house is very unwelcoming. I highly recommend that even if you drain the water, that you still keep it heated.

So are buyers looking in the winter? I believe real estate slows down in the winter because of sellers, not buyers. Meaning, buyers are still looking, there are just less sellers willing to put up with those inconveniences. Sure, there are challenges for buyers too and they are a little distracted with life from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day (understandably), but for the most part, if a buyer is looking for a house, the need hasn’t changed just because of the weather.

Often the need hasn’t changed for the seller either. If you want or need to sell, yes, there are buyers out there. And yes, there is no reason to wait. If you choose to list before January, I recommend you ask for your real estate agent’s honest opinion of your decorations (you should really be asking them their opinion of any decorations/décor, etc. any time of year). But be willing to listen. Chances are some of those items are sentimental, that’s ok. Our job is to help your house appeal to the largest pool of buyers possible, which involves making it less personal to you. Talk with your agent about what is expected in terms of snow removal and what the protocol is for a last-minute storm, etc. so that buyers/buyers’ agents can be informed quickly. All goes more smoothly when we’re all on the same page.

Many buyers will still want to see houses in the evening (when it’s dark) because of their work schedules, but often weekend showings get increased during the darker months. Sometimes that means 2 showings, one after work during the week and then another quick outside one on the weekend just so they know what it looks like during daylight.

Because winter is historically a time when less sellers list their homes, it can be a great time to list with less competition. Ultimately, it comes down to you to decide what is best for you and your family, but your real estate profession is there to help you navigate the process along the way.

I hope you all stay warm and have a happy and peaceful holiday season!

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