Sellers Ask: Should I Wait Until Spring to Put My Home on the Market?

About this time of year I like to remind readers why winter can be the best time of year to put their home on the market.

First of all, there is less competition because, frankly, most sellers don’t know that homes sell well year-round. If your agent says you should wait until spring, get an agent who understands this!

Second, buyers continue to get alerts of new listings year-round.  You know this yourself if you’ve been looking at listings. Nowadays every serious home buyer has asked their agent to set up an MLS alert matching their search criteria, or done it themselves on Zillow, and these alerts are generated 24/7/365 — even on Christmas morning!

This is a change from years past, when buyers depended on their agent to monitor the market and find listings that matched their buyers’ needs and wants. No more! Buyers do their own searching, even if it’s on Zillow, and call their agent when they want to see a listing which appears to meet their needs and wants.

Third, you won’t be bothered by lookie-loos.  Only serious buyers, ready to make an offer, will be asking to see your home in the winter. The buyers who just like looking at other peoples’ homes are less inclined to go out at this time of year.

Fourth, you’ll have your agent’s and mortgage broker’s full attention.  With less traffic in the winter, these professionals can give you their undivided attention.  Others, including title officers and home inspectors, are also less busy in the winter, which is to your advantage.

Fifth, you can light your fireplace. I love going into a warm, cozy home when it’s cold outside. Unless your home is drafty and cold, this makes for great staging!  And if you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s even better. I love the smell of a wood-burning fireplace, don’t you?  Also, put some cider on the stove, with cinnamon sticks in it and have a ladle and cups next to it with freshly baked cookies, and you’ve made my day! Your visitors will feel like they are in their new home!

Sixth, holiday decorations are good staging, too.  Most stagers will urge you to depersonalize your home, including removal of crucifixes or other religious symbols, but this is Colorado, and people of all religions enjoy our Christmas holiday decorations. Again, like the fireplace and hot cider, holiday decorations can add a welcoming, homey feeling to your home.

Remember, buyers need to move year round. The concept of selling during the children’s summer vacation may be valid for a limited segment of the population, but even in that case many families move locally, and the MLS allows us to set up searches based on school district or even specific elementary, middle or high school service areas. Other moves are triggered by job changes, health changes or seniors moving to be closer to grandchildren, and these needs arise year-round.

Call any of us at Golden Real Estate — our phone numbers are below — if you’d like a free market analysis of your home or for any other reason.

Jim Smith, Broker/Owner –  303-525-1851

Jim Swanson — 303-929-2727

Carrie Lovingier — 303-907-1278

Kristi Brunel — 303-525-2520

Chuck Brown — 303-885-7855

David Dlugasch — 303-908-4835

Andrew Lesko — 720-710-1000

Carol Milan — 720-982-4941

Should You List Your Home During the Holidays? The Answer May Surprise You

The national real estate media and blogs have finally caught onto something I’ve been saying for several years — that winter, even during the holidays, is a great time to put your home on the market.   The lead article this week on RSImedia’s “Housecall” blog, for example, promotes listing homes during the upcoming holidays, writing as follows:

“With the colder temperatures and many people heading on vacation, it may seem like an inopportune moment to list your house, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Although it’s true that there are fewer buyers looking for a home at this time of year, the pros far outweigh the cons. There are fewer, yet far more serious buyers searching for homes in your market, and there is less competition with fewer homes on the market, and transactions proceed more quickly….”

The blog post gives three reasons why the holidays are a good time to list a home. First, sellers needn’t worry as much about staging the home. “Homebuyers who shop during the off-season are typically very serious about getting into a house. They’re unlikely to waste their time viewing homes that don’t already suit their criteria, and will be able to look past your child’s messy playroom.”

Second, the article states that transactions move more quickly, since inspectors, lenders, appraisers and title companies have less of a backlog.  (Personally, I don’t see this being so significant.)

Third, the article points out what I think is most important — there are fewer homes competing for attention against your home.   Sellers should particularly appreciate the fact that buyers who want to see listings at this time of year are probably serious about buying. “Lookie loos” are most often fair weather visitors. So, fewer people are likely to want to see your home during the holidays, but those who do are typically of the highly qualified and highly motivated variety.

What the RSImedia blog post fails to address is what changed to make the holiday season a good time to list a home, because that wasn’t true years ago.  I believe it is because of how the internet has changed the relationship between buyers and their real estate agents.

In the past, agents would do the looking, contacting their client when they identified a home they think their buyer would like. With today’s MLS systems, agents can enter their buyers’ search criteria into the MLS, which triggers an email alert whenever the system identifies a listing matching those criteria.

Thus, while agents might lose focus from time-to-time, the MLS computer never stops watching and alerting. The minute a suitable listing is entered in the MLS, buyers are alerted.  Some of these folks are sufficiently motivated that if the listing “checks enough of their boxes,” they’ll call their agents to request an immediate showing — even on Christmas eve.

Buyers can set up similar alerts themselves on consumer-facing real estate websites such as Zillow, but they can’t use nearly as many search criteria as their agent can.  For example, I don’t know of a single consumer-facing website that allows a user to search for main-floor master suites, fenced yards, homes with mountain views, or homes with full-but-unfinished basements.  The MLS system on the other hand, allows its member agents to search for all of these criteria – and more.  If it’s a field on the MLS, it can be a search criterion for us agents.

If you aren’t able to search for exactly what you want on those consumer-facing websites, ask us or your agent of choice to set up the search for you.  It doesn’t cost the agent or you anything to create these alerts. 

In previous years I’ve published statistics showing how well listings sell in the winter.  You can find those columns at www.JimSmithColumns.com.