Goodspeed: How to sell a home in the winter
QUESTION: We just put our home on the market and would really like to get it sold before the end of the year. Everybody says the market cools off after the summer. Do you have any tips for us to try and get our home sold before the winter months?
ANSWER: Yes, the market usually cools off in the fall and winter. But as long as you are realistic about your expectations, selling your home in the fall and even winter months is still very possible. There may be fewer buyers in the market, but there are usually fewer homes for sale as well. The key is “realistic.”
Be realistic by starting with correctly pricing your home. Rely on comps, not your emotions or hearsay about bidding wars, 24-hour listings, etc.
Many sellers want to set a high sales price initially, thinking they can always lower the price if no one bites.
Research shows that sellers who price their homes too high, then lower the price end up getting less for their home than if they had priced it correctly to begin with. Ask your real estate agent to do a comparative market analysis of comparable homes to yours that have sold in the last three months.
Listen to the agent and his/her recommendation of a price for your home. You are paying them for their expertise, so use it.
Also, ask your agent for buyer feedback about what people like and do not like about your home. Based on buyer feedback, there may be small fixes you can do to improve its marketability.
De-clutter, clean and organize. Remove big pieces of furniture, clean out closets, basement and garage.
You want your home to show as large as possible. Remove all personal photos and other items. Do minor repairs and touchup painting. Keep your home constantly picked up and ready for any last-minute showings.
Make sure your agent gets some topnotch photos of your home and property, and that your home is featured on all the top websites – realtor.com, zillow.com, even your Facebook feed. Most buyers start their home search on line. Don’t let them just click past your home. Good, quality photos will help make them want to take a second look.
Another good strategy is to get an optional home inspection. This will alert you to any potential problems that you can fix ahead of time and will induce confidence in the buyer knowing that the home has already been professionally inspected and has no major flaws.
Many buyers will want to get their own home inspection, but some may be willing to accept your inspection. This happened to my sister. The buyer for her house accepted her home inspection and the sale breezed through.
Whether or not the buyer accepts your home inspection, a seller inspection can speed up the process by giving you prior notice of any flaws and the opportunity to fix them ahead of time or to negotiate them with the buyer.
Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.