Do Houses Sell in the Winter?

When counseling people at this time of year, particularly people who are thinking of selling their homes, I am commonly asked if this is a good time to sell a house. Here is my take on the timing for both selling and buying.

For People Selling a Home
While the real estate market typically slows down during the winter, and particularly during the holidays, the fact remains that houses sell all year around. I see several advantages to selling at this time of year.

First, there are fewer houses for sell, so there is less competition. A well priced and well staged home will really stand out. The time of year also gives you some staging opportunities with holiday decor and lighting. It needs to be done tastefully. You don’t want your house to look like a holiday garage sale. Choose your decorating carefully and don’t over do it. Please do turn on every light in the house for showings.

Second, if a corporation aligns its fiscal year to the calendar year, it means that more executives get transferred at this time of year. Corporations like to plan for the year end and expense out as much as possible. So if you are a seller at this time of year, you may find more highly qualified executives on the move.

Third, people who are shopping for a house at this time of year are MOTIVATED. It is certainly easier to move during nice weather and when your time is not consumed by holiday obligations. So while there may be fewer buyers, the quality of buyers is quite high.

"A Walk in the Rain", Marcel Germain
“A Walk in the Rain”, Marcel Germain

For People Thinking of Buying a Home

This is an absolutely optimum time of year to buy, for several reasons.

First, historically interest rates are lower in the winter than at other times of the year. Mortgage companies need to be making loans to be making money. When the market slows down, lenders tend to lower interest rates to make lending their money more attractive to buyers. So you may be able to get a better rate at this time of year than you will next spring.

Second, there is no better time of year to do a home inspection. If there is a water issue, it will be more likely found during the active rainy season. That is not to say that a good home inspector won’t find evidence of water issues in the bone dry days of July. Water does after all leave water marks and stains. But in the full throws of winter, water is actively engaging with the house and it can be very easily seen and figured out.

Last, if a house looks good at 4:30 on a gray November day, it is going to look sensational on a 75 degree day in May. Seriously, a house that looks good in the winter will knock your socks off in the summer.

What it really boils down to is do you need to be making your move now? If you do, don’t hesitate to get into the market to either buy or to sell. This is a great time of year to do both.