Conventional wisdom states that the winter is the worst time to buy or sell a house. After all, no one wants to go out looking for homes or move when it’s cold, dark, and rainy, fewer homes are for sale, and people don’t want to unsettle their family just after the holidays, right?
In fact, the winter months are some of the best times for both motivated sellers and savvy buyers, as amazing deals and efficient transactions abound. That was the conclusion of a study by a noted large national real estate site, which tracked thousands of real estate sales and purchases for a four-year period. Their data revealed:
Houses sold in the months between December 26th and March sold faster than homes listed in other months and for more money
74% homes sell within 90 days on average, and 13% sell for more than asking price during February.
To compare those numbers, only 61% of homes listed in September sell within 90 days, and homes sold in October only go above asking price 5% of the time.
The data remains firm, even in cities with cold or inclement weather.
So what are the underlying reasons home sales are so lucrative in the winter?
If you are in the market to buy, here is why winter may be the best time:
1. Less competition
Fewer buyers mean less competition – and better deals. There are far fewer buyers checking out homes in the winter months, as the bulk of homes sales occur in the hotter and more favorable spring and summer months.
2. Motivated sellers
It’s more likely that someone listing their house at this time doesn’t just want to sell but needs to sell. There are plenty of possible reasons that could motivate winter sellers, making them more likely to consider lower prices.
3. More room to negotiate
By that same token, sellers during the winter months are more likely to submit a counter offer instead of outright rejection of offers. Once the negotiation starts, all kinds of great terms, amenities, conditions, and of course, a price that’s favorable to the buyer, are on the table.
4. No time to waste
You can usually get your offer accepted, get into escrow, and close a deal a lot more efficiently in December, January February since sellers are extremely eager and value every serious offer. Sellers in the winter months tend to be far more realistic since they don’t have time to waste – yours or their own.
Consider selling your house in the winter because:
1. Serious buyers
Sellers may be highly motivated to sell during the winter months, but so are buyers, who wouldn’t take the time and energy searching for homes and writing offers if they weren’t serious. Many buyers want to close a sale in December for tax purposes or get into a home as soon as possible to enjoy some of the holidays if possible.
2. Your home will stand out
Since far fewer homes get listed for sale in winter months, that can be a significant advantage for a smart seller. Make sure your home is priced fairly, staged well, and well maintained. It’s far easier to shine and attract buyers in the winter months as opposed to spring and summer when home listings increase exponentially.
3. Faster closings
Don’t things always take longer during the holidays because of days off and more distractions? The real estate industry is the exception since this is the off-season for agents, loan officers, underwriters, banks, appraisers, home inspectors, and title and escrow professionals. That means they can get to your home, file sooner and finish their job quickly. When both parties are working together and motivated, winter closings can sometimes go surprisingly fast.
4. Fewer contingent buyers
While there is a time and place for contingent offers, sellers are wise to avoid them if possible because of the guesswork and uncertainty involved. In the winter months, you’re far less likely to run into buyers who make contingent offers, which means they have to sell their own home first. During the winter months and the holidays, buyers are largely ready to go with non-contingent purchase offers.
C.J. Lauria is a Real Estate Investor since 1988. He is also a Realtor, Author, Speaker, Educator and Director of Invesdoor® Real Estate in El Dorado Hills, CA.