Housing MarketSelling November 21, 2015

It Pays to List in Winter

Spring may still be peak home-shopping season, since most families want to move when school is out. Yet it actually pays to list in the winter, when buyers tend to have more urgency. A study by online brokerage Redfin found that average sellers net more above asking price during the months of December, January, February, and March than they do from June through November, even in cold-weather cities like Boston and Chicago. And homes listed in winter sold faster than those posted in spring.

For a seller listing a home now, these ideas from money.com can help make a great cold-weather impression:

Price It Right

The quieter winter market brings special pricing considerations. Unlike in spring, when there are more shoppers, you’re less likely to receive multiple offers during the winter months. The best advice is to take a conservative approach and price at market value.

Schedule a Tune-Up

Winter buyers are particularly attuned to issues related to heating and maintenance. Get the furnace, HVAC, and roof inspected, and make any necessary repairs. Also on the to-do list: clean the gutters, change air filters, and weather-strip the windows.

Many cold-weather house hunters will also be thinking about heating costs. Consider low-cost upgrades like insulating the attic or installing energy-efficient windows, which can cut utility bills.

Brighten Your Home

Snow and gray skies make for a gloomy first impression. Warm up curb appeal with basic landscaping, and add inexpensive cool-weather plants like holly to invigorate outdoor space. Fix chipped paint, caulk windows, and repair cracked window seals, which can cause condensation that freezes over and looks bad.

Compensate for the season’s poor natural light by painting the house off-white throughout. It will set a consistent color palette and makes the space feel larger.

And create a sense of warmth throughout the home, starting with the living room, where staging can have the greatest impact, according to a NAR report. Items such as a throw blanket can set the tone of warmth and coziness. To stay neutral during the holidays, use seasonal touches like stacked wood by the fireplace rather than holiday decorations.

As always, de-clutter and depersonalize. It’s a good idea to put away family photographs so that buyers can see themselves living in the home; instead display pictures that show what the property looks like when the temperature is warmer, like the garden in full bloom or the backyard in the summertime. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean buyers can’t appreciate what the home has to offer year ’round.

Thanks to Tammy Pollard for sending this to us.