Winter home sales in cold regions of the country can be challenging for even the most seasoned real estate agents.

“The seasonal patterns vary somewhat depending on climate and location, but peak shopping typically starts around mid-February and goes through about mid-June,” according to Adam DeSanctis, economic issues media manager, National Association of Realtors.

Harsh winter weather puts a damper on sales when they might have already slowed because many families time their home buying based on the school year.

“Traffic is lower in the fall, with higher levels of singles and childless couples as a market share, which also causes the median prices to decline each fall,” DeSanctis said. “When the holiday season begins, home shopping drops to annual lows – generally between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That causes January and February to be the slowest months of the year for sales closings.”

Adam DeSanctis

Even so, holiday slumps can be short-lived and open the door to opportunity.

“The first part of the year is an excellent period for singles and childless couples to begin shopping for a home (the close of the year might be also, except for lower inventory and the holiday distractions),” DeSanctis said. “Sellers who’ve been out the market for a while may be more willing to negotiate price after the beginning of the year, and there is less competition from other buyers.”

Real estate winter market fluctuations vary greatly around the U.S. A case in point: While Atlanta’s real estate market mirrors seasonal trends in housing, the capital city has few unique distinguishing factors, according to Bruce Ailion, an Atlanta-based Realtor and attorney.

“As a leading relocation market, many companies move people for the first-of-the-year transition, so there is buoyancy created by these end-of-the-year sales,” Ailion said. “Atlanta has a large young population that is not bound by the school’s-out summer move. These buyers can buy in the winter when there is typically lower competition for homes. In many hot markets, there is a less than two-month inventory, so homes are selling quickly.”

Agents who are in less than optimal climates can read these experts’ suggestions on how to sell homes in winter months in our upcoming article, “5 tips for winter home sales.”