Why you can, and should, sell your home in the winter – Boston.com

By Robyn A. Friedman — Globe Correspondent

Are you thinking about listing your home, but hesitant to put it on the market during the winter because you’ve heard spring and summer are the peak selling seasons?

According to a May 2022 analysis of home sales over the past 11 years by ATTOM, a real estate data firm, more homes are sold in May, June, July, and August than in other months. Sellers who closed in May, June, and July also realized premiums of 10 percent or more above market value.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t list your home in the winter if that’s when you want — or need — to sell.

“Everyone says April and May are the big months to sell, and they are because that correlates with school, but what we’re finding now is that we’re selling a lot quicker in February and March,” said Beth Chandler, a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Boston. “There’s less competition then, and the buyers actively looking would rather buy in January, February, or March so they’re in their new home and can enjoy it for the summer.”

Since there’s less inventory on the market in the winter, there’s also less competition, which is good news for sellers. Plus, agents say that people shopping during those months are more likely to buy as well.

“Buyers who are out trudging through cold weather and snow are very serious,” said Dave Costello, a real estate broker and managing director of Advisors Living/Luxury Portfolio, a brokerage in Boston. In other words, there are fewer “lookers” attending open houses merely to check out their neighbors’ décor.

But selling during snowy months requires an agent to have the experience and knowledge to overcome challenges that don’t exist in the balmy days of summer.

“You can certainly put deals together in the winter, but there are some weather-related obstacles you have to work around,” Costello said.

Here are tips from the experts:

Create a warm, inviting atmosphere. Sellers should create warm ambiance, both literally and figuratively, when buyers tour the home. Turn on the heat. Warm rooms not only encourage buyers to stay longer but also evoke a feeling of coziness and a positive association with the property. Consider lighting a fire if the house has a fireplace. Chandler suggested having a football game playing on the television or cartoons on for the kids. “It’s important for people to be able to imagine themselves in the house,” she said.

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Consider professional staging. In its 2021 Profile of Home Staging, the National Association of Realtors reported that 82 percent of buyers’ agents said that staging a property made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Indeed, proper staging can make all the difference, particularly in a vacant property. Barb FitzGerald, a home stager with FitzGerald Home Interiors in Needham, recently staged a vacant one-bedroom condo in Boston that was listed for $950,000. She used rugs and throws to warm up the empty unit, as well as photographs that showed a happy family enjoying the home. “It all boils down to making it as homey as possible without clutter,” she said.

Protect the property. Safeguard the home against snow-covered boots and muddy shoes. Make sure there are door mats at entrances, and leave a note asking that visitors remove their boots. You can even supply disposable booties.

Remove snow and ice. Make sure driveways and walks are clear of snow and ice, not just for aesthetics but also to ensure that guests can easily and safely get from their vehicles into the home.

‘Buyers who are out trudging through cold weather and snow are very serious.’
Dave Costello, Advisors Living/Luxury Portfolio

Don’t ignore curb appeal. Yes, it’s likely your property will be covered with snow if you’re selling it in the winter, but do what you can to enhance the exterior. Illuminate pathways, and make sure exposed areas have fresh coats of paint. Display photos of the property in the spring and summer, showing off the landscaping. Put sleds and snow shovels in the garage, and store holiday decorations.

Gather documentation. Home inspections can be challenging in the winter. The roof may be covered with snow, and the air conditioning can’t be tested. Costello suggested that sellers provide photos of relevant systems to the inspector, as well as documentation of the age of the roof, air conditioning, drainage system, or sump pump, as well as their service history to demonstrate that the systems have been well maintained. He also said many buyers have concerns about the cost of home heating oil as well, so sellers should disclose the age of the boiler, as well as the average cost to fill it and how many times it’s filled each winter.

Robyn A. Friedman has been writing about real estate and the home market for more than two decades. Follow her @robynafriedman. Send comments to [email protected].

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