Though spring is traditionally thought of the optimal time to both buy and sell, there are some great reasons to start your house hunt or put your home on the market in the winter! Both of our home purchases have actually been in the winter. When we began our home search in the SOMA area, it was December. We had some time off during the Holidays, and our realtor picked us up at the charming Maplewood train station. Instead of seeing the usual slushy crosswalks and dirty snow that were so commonplace in The City, we drove around Maplewood and South Orange and saw kids skating on ponds, young families building snowmen in their front yards and little children peering into the tiny windows of Dickens Village. After a day of looking at potential houses, each one more charming than the last, we grabbed a drink and bite at the cozy pub in town. Sitting at a table near the fire, we signed our first offer letter with hope and excitement. As we left to head back to the train station, a soft snow began to fall and we knew that we were making the right choice. While sunshine, trees and flowers are beautiful and plentiful in the spring, December is a magical time of year, here in SOMA.
Our personal experience aside, winter can be an excellent time to either buy or sell. If you are on the fence about the time of year, here are some points to consider:
- Sellers who list their homes in the winter often have a greater need to move quickly, thus making them motivated sellers. Also, who wants to keep their home so clean during such a crazy time of year?
- Since many people wait until the spring to begin looking, fewer buyers also mean less competition, thus improving your odds in a multiple offer market.
- Less inventory on the market means your house will be in demand. Come spring, when the market is often flooded with new inventory, you could become a small fish in a big pond. When buyers have more homes to choose from, they simply become more choosy! If there are challenges, (busy street, needed updates, proximity to power lines), they become more pronounced when there are more options, which could mean less money in your pocket!
- Buyers looking in the winter are often more serious, motivated by a desire to move swiftly.
Need evidence? Here’s a chart demonstrating the number of listings on the market each month for the last year compared the number of accepted offers. You can see that the ration of business being done to new listings is higher in November, December and January! (incidentally, there was a spike in July and August – also a time of year perceived as being slower for real estate).