Listing in Winter?
WINTER…LIST OR WAIT TILL SPRING?
“Isn’t winter a bad time to list a home?…people don’t want to buy…the market dies”
That’s a question many Sellers ask, as a matter of fact, that is an objection many of us are faced with at listing presentations.
Many sellers consider winter the off season and choose to sit on the sidelines during the colder months. A long-standing practice of some agents is to take a home off the market in the winter to “refresh” the listing for the new year, and then re-list the home in the spring. Some will even tell a homeowner who is thinking of putting their home on the market in winter to wait until the spring, since more homes sell at that time of year. That is obviously not wise. Why advise a Seller to list later and possibly with someone else at that time? With the right preparations, smart Sellers can list now and sell quicker than expected.
Let’s start with some TREB stats. Historically, sales in the winter months , as a percentage of annual sales are significant, being, 5% in December, 5.2% in January and 7.5% in February, totally almost one fifth of an agent’s total annual income. That is not to be sneezed at. And even more important is that those winter months lead right into one of the busiest months of the year, March where 9.8% of annual sales are effected.
WHY IS IT A GOOD TIME TO LIST NOW?
1) Winter presents a lower inventory of homes or less competition from other Sellers. With fewer houses on the market in winter, there is more demand for those listed. When the smaller number of winter sales are compared to the smaller inventory, an individual home seller may actually be just as likely to have their home sell in winter as in summer.
2) Consumer confidence is still high with Buyers realizing that values are increasing and the time to buy is now, while they can still get historically low interest rates on their mortgage making for a better deal on their dream home.
3) The pool of prospective Buyers may be smaller, but those in the winter are usually more motivated and serious. These buyers, out in the cold, looking at homes are not “tire kickers”. Motivated buyers tend to feel more pressure to pull the trigger on something they like rather than wait for something better to come along. While the buyer may have had 30 homes to choose from in June, there may only be 10 homes that fit their criteria in January. If they are motivated to buy, they will choose one of those 10 homes.
4) This year has been one of multiple offers and sales over asking prices. Due to the amazing activity in 2013 we’re seeing Buyers who began looking in the spring still without a home. The combination of less inventory and still eager buyers creates a good environment for Sellers. What this scenario creates is an ability for Sellers to capture the attention of a larger percentage of active Buyers with their new listing and stand out in a way that simply isn’t going to be possible in the spring. The Buyer looking today has, been conditioned to come in strong and fast with offers when they see a home they like and are also more likely to overlook small imperfections.
5) There is a changing dynamic in the way Buyers search for homes. Buyers and agents would argue in the past that people go on vacation, there are less daylight hours to view homes, and bad weather inhibits buyers from viewing homes for sale. Today, this is a very minor issue as nine out of ten home buyers search for their home online. They’re searching at night after dark and they’re browsing real estate websites while out of town. They’re driving neighbourhoods, viewing available homes on mobile phones, in the safety of their warm vehicle. The way buyers search for homes has changed, and their location, the time of year, and the weather have far less effect on their ability to view homes than it used to.
6) And of course, during the festive season, houses tend to show well when decorated tastefully for the holidays, giving Buyers a sense of home and warmth.
There, I’ve listed some objection handlers I could think of that I hope will give you some ammo when talking to listing prospects and I’m sure you can think of more.
Bottom line is, let other agents miss the winter market while YOUtake advantage.
William E. Doutsas, Broker / Manager
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