Of all the days you’d expect a potential homebuyer to want to tour your listed home, Thanksgiving and Christmas are probably the two you would least expect. But it’s possible, and it’ll happen occasionally.
Before you laugh at your agent’s request to clear out for a couple hours for that would-be buyer to walk through your house while your turkey is still in the oven, consider the likelihood that this tour leads to an actual offer. If a buyer is looking on a holiday when most sellers are at home, “they’re dead serious – they’re ready to buy a house. The agents probably won’t take them out unless they know they’re serious,” says Michael Straley, a Realtor with eXp Realty who’s based in Stafford, Virginia, and has dealt with more than one holiday home tour in the past.
Ultimately, you want to sell your house and for the right price, so passing on such an opportunity for a serious buyer to tour your home could be a mistake that leaves your house on the market for longer than you’d like.
Selling your home in winter, considered the off-season for most of the U.S., leaves you with little room to make mistakes. You may opt to sell your home in winter because you’re on a deadline to move into your next house, or you may simply like the idea of avoiding the competition of all the other properties that put a for sale sign up at the first hint of spring. Either way, you want to be prepared to make your winter listing a success.
Here are four mistakes to avoid when trying to sell your home in winter.
Waiting to list your house. The biggest mistake you can make is trying to time when you put your house on the market. After all, you only need one buyer to make the sale a success, and the right buyer could be looking at any time.
Don’t overlook November and December, says Lou Nimkoff, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association in Florida. While the time between major winter holidays may seem like a period when people wouldn’t want to buy a house, Nimkoff says homebuyers get just as excited to put in an offer on a house as they do to buy gifts during the holiday season.
As much as people are ready to buy rather than shop around for holiday gifts, he says, “The same holds true for (home)buyers with all the craziness that we go through in November and December with the Black Friday sales.”
Expecting zero interest on certain days. Whether it’s a holiday where you normally have a family gathering or a snow day when the kids are home from school, don’t be put off if you get a request to show the house on a day you may consider inconvenient.
“There are people out there that will sometimes want to see your property on Thanksgiving or on Christmas Eve,” Straley says, stressing that the majority of these serious buyers are moving to the area from another state or country and likely have little time to make a decision. That means your home is on their short list, and you don’t want to miss your window of opportunity.
If you’re trying to sell your home in the winter, consider having another family member host the festivities, or at least have a backup plan to make yourself scarce, like going out to a holiday movie or traversing the neighborhood to check out holiday lights. The same goes for days when you’re home due to bad weather conditions. Serious buyers may take the opportunity to look at houses once roads have been plowed, so be ready to head out of the house for a couple hours if need be.
The share of homes on the market throughout the U.S. that have to undergo a price reduction is climbing, according to real estate information company Trulia. In a reportreleased in October, 17.2 percent of all properties on the market in August underwent a price reduction.
To avoid becoming part of the nearly one-fifth of home sellers forced to lower their asking price, make sure you understand the current market and realistically approach pricing your home. Work with your real estate agent and look at the sale price of similar homes that have recently sold – not the asking price of those listed – to see how you can compete with what’s on the market.
Not preparing your home for guests. If your house is on the market, you should always have it ready for a tour – and in the winter, that may require extra preparation. You may have less control over how the grass or trees look in the winter, but you can ensure a safe passage to your front door.
“The last thing you want is for someone to walk up your driveway and slip and fall,” Nimkoff says.
Prepare before you get a forecast calling for any snow or icy conditions, and keep rock salt or ice-melt pellets of some sort on hand to ensure you can keep the sidewalk, driveway and porch or patio slip-resistant. Inside, keep your entryway or mudroom clear of wet boots, coats, hats and gloves.
In addition to the usual organizing and deep-cleaning that comes with staging your property, keeping your home warm and cozy when the weather is cold can help a potential buyer fall in love with your house.