As the days get shorter, the leaves all fall from the trees and the weather starts to bite, one question I get from vendors considering selling their home is this: "Should we wait until spring to sell our home?" It's a really good question and I'd like to explore a few myths surrounding this common idea.
Myth 1. Our house will look better presented on a sunny spring day.
Firstly, let's be clear, there are lots of very clear, sunny, crisp days in winter...in fact it seems that it rains more often in the spring than in winter. So, blue skies, clear skies and even sunshine are never guaranteed.. But, what we can do, is work with the weather...if it is blowing a gale, torrential rain and bleak out there, then focus your efforts on the things buyers will want to see and feel on a day like this...If they have come out to an Open Home on a miserable cold day...then they are interested, which is great! So show them your home to it's winter best....think cosy throw rugs draped by the sofa, the fire on and roaring, heating on so the house is warm throughout, all the lights on, cosy carpet/rugs in bedrooms underfoot. Show off your insulation certificates/evidence too. The smell of just baked cookies doesn't hurt either in this instance. Create a cosy nook in a spare corner or a cosy warm play space for kids (if appropriate) where the buyer can image their family spending time on cold days. Adding garage carpet can add value and create an extra indoor usable space for some homes. Think of your home as a haven, a refuge from the elements and show it off to it's cosy best. Buyers want to imagine being here and feeling warm, cosy and sheltered.
Myth 2. There are more buyers in the spring.
This is true. There are more buyers around in the spring and summer. This does create demand for property. There is also much more property on the market at this time also. More choice for buyers can mean lower selling prices potentially. Those who sell in winter are operating in a much more limited marketplace with less buyers competing for less properties, but that isn't a bad thing. If your property stands out for all the right reasons, it will be the top of the pick for the buyers that there are in the market at that time and they will be competing for a very limited number of suitable properties. This drives prices up for sellers. So, yes, there are always more buyers in Spring. But.. they have much more property to choose from then which can mean lower prices.
The other factor to consider is that people (buyers) enter the market at all times of the year as life changes for buyers are not limited to Spring. A new career opportunity, a new relationship (or the end of a relationship), a wedding, new babies & expanding families, empty-nesters seeking to downsize, and other types of life events can drive the need to find a new home at any time of year. These winter/off-season buyers are generally highly motivated and ready to buy right now. This is great news for those who sell in the cooler months.
Finally, the selling of your home has to fit your own needs, your own personal time-frame and fit with your own plans and goals. There is no point selling in Spring, if you really need or want to be somewhere else much sooner. The right time to sell is when you are motivated to reach your new property goal and ready to start your next step on your own journey.
Myth 3. There is too much work to do heading into winter.
Selling in fall (autumn) or winter does mean extra care needs to be taken with the house exterior and gardens. All paths and steps must be slime & moss free. Handrails need to be secure and non-slip. Decks and paving areas should be water blasted, moss treated (if required) and have a non-slip surface if possible. Trees can look bare without greenery but gardens and lawns should be presented as tidy as possible. Outdoor furniture/BBQ's, etc should be well presented if on display or else stored away out of view. Having the garden edges tidy and the weeding done will always look good, regardless of the season. It is also a good time to check gutters for blockages, shady areas around a house where moss/damp can grow and fix these. Obviously any leaks need to be attended to. Windows and exterior doors should be clean (both sides) and clear of clutter to allow the view or indoor-outdoor flow to be the main feature even on a cooler winter's day. Provide a clearly identifiable spot for muddy shoes, umbrellas and coats to go, so people can image living here without clutter.
So, the answer to the question "Should we wait until spring to sell?" is a most definite NO. If you are ready now to sell, there is absolutely no compelling reason to wait until Spring. You can feel confident that with less homes for sale over the winter, this creates demand for the best of the available homes and this means a potentially a higher price at the end - this is great news! You will be dealing with less numbers of buyers potentially, but more genuine and motivated buyers who are looking right then for a new home and they may be struggling to find what they are looking for in a smaller marketplace. They are frequently ready to pay a premium in a limited market to get the house they want.
You will also find that sticking to your own required/desired time-frame to sell (rather than waiting for "Spring") will keep you ore focused on achieving your own goals. Buyers are entering the market at the time that suits them and they need homes all year long. With some winter-themed Open-Home ideas and outdoor maintenance taken care of, as noted above, you can be sure your home will be highly desirable to the buyers out there.
So, don't wait for spring when you can be "Sold" over winter and be well on the way to your next move before the first daffodils bloom.
Good luck out there!