What to Consider When Selling in the Winter
Popular wisdom would tell you to never sell a house in the winter months. Your house will not show as well (especially here in Michigan), there are fewer buyers looking for houses, and you will take a big hit to the value of the house as a result. And while there is some merit to waiting until the spring to list your home for sale, I can also tell you there is plenty of merit to listing your house when you are ready (or need) to sell, regardless of the time of year. At the end of the day, you need to make the right decision for your family and your finances. And if you are planning to buy a bigger home because you’ve outgrown your current one, you just might find a great deal out there.
If you can wait until April or May, could there be some advantages? Sure. But I’ve seen many clients have their homes wind up in bidding wars in the heart of the winter for all the reasons people tell you not to sell now. Inventory is low and buyers are scarce. But the buyers who are out there are probably out there because they have a true need for a house. They are going to pay what it takes to find adequate shelter. Similarly, there is a dearth of supply in the winter, meaning you could have limited or no real competition in your area and price range. So if 2 buyers need to buy your house, you could do very well in the winter.
And if you are upgrading your house, you will find many sellers in the winter are selling out of a need. This means you can usually negotiate well and find a steal. So if you do it right, you might sell for more than you expected and buy cheaper than you thought possible; that sounds like a good plan to me.
But if you are selling, be cognizant of the market, of what is for sale around you, and how you compare to the other houses. If you are listed well above market, you may not get the traction you are hoping for because there are fewer buyers. You also need to properly stage your home, which is where a qualified Realtor can help; you can’t leave anything to chance or up to the buyer. And finally, do your best to keep the snow off of walkways, driveways, back patios, and anywhere else people can walk. The snow can be limiting, but if you show a fully shoveled out home it will make it seem easier for the next person to deal with. If you don’t clean up all the snow, it leaves the impression it was too much effort because it was too much work, leaving potential buyers afraid they will have the same issues (like a buyer thinking the storage space is limited because of packed closets or leaves in a yard were too hard to keep up with).
So if you need to sell your house, don’t be afraid, just make sure you are working with a qualified Realtor who can help you. And if you can’t find one you trust, ask a mortgage officer you trust; they usually have a list of highly qualified real estate professionals at their disposal.
If you have any questions about buying or selling a home in the winter or about getting preapproved for a mortgage, please contact me. If you have any other tips for potential sellers in the winter in Michigan, please leave a comment.