While buyer traffic in the winter generally lags behind that of spring and summer, recent severe weather has had an even bigger impact, according to Brad Chandler, the CEO and co-founder of Express Homebuyers, a Springfield, Va.-based real estate investment company.
“Sellers often focus on the holidays for a six-week stretch from mid-November until January,” Chandler said. “With the unusually low winter temps over the past four years, we have seen a decline in traffic when the temperatures drop below freezing.”
According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the unseasonably cold conditions of last year will be back in 2016 over the Atlantic Seaboard, eastern portions of the Great Lakes and the lower peninsula of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, most of the Tennessee and Mississippi Valley, as well as much of the Gulf Coast.
Here are some suggestions on how to sell homes in the winter months:
1. Get back to basics
According to Bruce Ailion, an Atlanta-based Realtor and attorney, the winter months are a great time to keep in touch with the people who know you, like you, trust you, and may have done business with you in the past.
“Winter offers a number of opportunities for a soft touch with past clients and sphere of influence people. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve/Day calls, cards, visits are great ways to reconnect and let people know you are still a resource,” he said.
2. Meet the potential for bad weather, head-on
An agent for 35 years, Chicago-based real estate agent Elizabeth Ballis of Ballis Group, Coldwell Banker, prepares for winter weather by asking her clients to provide salt and a shovel. Ballis purchases slip-on booties that fit over shoes and boots, from Shubee.com.
“And we always ask clients to put a big mat out, so people can take their shoes off and put the booties on,” Ballis said.
3. Make sure to include current photos
Agents must offer photographs that show the current season — even if it means in the dead of winter. Why? You don’t want potential buyers to think the home has been on the market for a long time, according to Ballis.
But she also tries to plan ahead with photos of the listing at more beautiful times of the year, “…so, somebody can see what it would look like if there were not 14 inches of snow on the ground.”
4. Price it right
“Price is the No.1 reason houses don’t sell,” Chandler said. “Price your home appropriately, or aggressively if the weather is bad or you live in a region with bad winter weather.”
5. Don’t shirk on staging just because it’s slow and cold
Regardless of the temps outside, staging is always important, according to Ballis.
“It doesn’t matter the time of year,” Ballis said. “It’s a beauty contest and a price war, so you have to be in the beauty contest and be priced right.”