Buying & Selling in the Winter: YES!

Housing markets all over the world experience winter’s wrath. When I first started in real estate, you would always hear seasoned Brokers complaining about the arrival of winter. Though, as a motivated new Broker, nothing would keep me from holding homes open or marketing like I would during the summer. The reason is simple; everyone’s situation is different. Maybe their lease was ending and they wanted to purchase. Maybe they found the home of their dreams and wanted to buy it. Whatever the reason, I believe the winter housing market is misunderstood.

Since much of the U.S. is facing blizzard-like conditions in the next day or so, I thought I would clear-up a common misconception of this season. It’s not uncommon for interest rates to rise during the winter and lower in the summer months. There are more factors at play than just the weather though, such as the stock market, economy, labor market and consumer confidence. As a Broker, I see steady movement of client transactions during the winter. Why wouldn’t you buy or sell during the winter? Consider these factors: Less competition, less available inventory, Buyer’s market vs. Seller’s market.

One of the chief complaints I hear from clients is, “If I sell in December-February, I may get a reasonable offer, but where will I go?” It’s true, there is less inventory on the market during the winter. I always ask my clients to do the following if they plan to sell: 1) Watch the market for months in advance to better understand the fluctuations; 2) Focus on an area, not areas. 3) Be prepared (pre-approval, staging, etc.). If you plan to sell, stage your home and keep it ready at all times. Find an area where you really want to live and watch it for new listings. You can watch, but don’t focus on several areas as this can cause indecisiveness. Lastly, have your pre-approval at the ‘ready’. When it comes to mortgages, pre-approvals are generally good for up to four months. Try not to wait until the last minute to get pre-approved. You can easily watch the home you hope to buy be sold right before your eyes.

Winter can be both a Seller’s Market and a Buyer’s Market. Inventory is typically low which benefits Sellers. However, people tend to move more ‘sluggish’ in the winter. What I mean is that you shouldn’t always expect to receive multiple offers on your home in the winter, which is generally contrary to what happens in the summer. This can make winter a Buyer’s market.

No matter what you decide to do, keep this guidance in mind. These tips can make the buying or selling process a little more enjoyable regardless of what the weather is doing!