What You Need to Know About Selling a Home in Winter

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If I told you that selling a home in the winter was a good idea, would you think I was crazy? For longest time I thought it was a crazy notion. I figured that your chances for selling a house in winter were practically zero. Because, probably like you, I’d always heard that the best time to sell a house was spring, not winter.

Until I sold a house in winter. And the experience completely changed my mind.

Pros and cons of selling a home in winter

There are definitely pros and cons to selling a home in the winter. Truth is there are pros and cons to selling your home at any time of the year. But let’s focus now on this coldest of seasons.

Pros of selling a home in winter

Some of the pros include the fact that you won’t have as much competition. People simply do not try to sell their homes in the winter time.

Additionally, buyers who are out looking during winter are serious about buying. The lookers come out during warm weather; the real buyers come out during the coldest months.

Less pressure on curb appeal

While curb appeal is always important, in winter you have a bit more flexibility. That is, if you live in a colder climate, you don’t have to worry about mowing the lawn or keeping the landscaping looking fresh. In winter no one expects fresh flowers in the soil.

Here are cheap ways to improve curb appeal

Add to that the fact that if it snows, everything is covered in snow. That’s a good thing, because everything is pretty when there is snow.

Cons of selling a home in winter

I mentioned that having snow on the ground can be a pro for putting your house on the market in winter. It can also be a con.

With snow comes the need for shoveling and plowing, and ensuring that your walkways are free of snow and ice. The last thing you need is a prospective buyer or their real estate agent slipping and falling at your home.

Winter weather challenges

Another con is that during winter you might be dealing with ice dams. If you’ve never experienced an ice dam, it’s when snow builds up on your roof. At the same time ice builds up in your gutters.

As the snow begins to melt, it has nowhere to go–because of the ice-filled gutters. So, it seeps through the roof and down into your home.

Dealing with an ice dam

The house that we were selling in winter. Well, weeks before we put it on the market, we had an ice dam form. So, we had to bring in a repair person to deal with that issue. We had to file an insurance claim, and then we had to list that ice dam on the seller’s disclosure forms.

Even with these pros and cons, we did end up listing our house to be sold in winter. The house went on the market the last weekend in January. Two days later we had two offers over asking price.

What it’s like to sell a home in the winter

We were one of only a handful of houses for sale that winter. So anyone who wanted to move to our town, which has a highly desirable school district, walkable downtown and is commutable to both New York City and Philadelphia, had few options. Therefore, our house was in high demand.

Lucky for us, in the days before we went on the market, we had a big snowstorm. It added to the picturesque quality of our colonial-era town. Plus, when the photographer arrived to take pictures for our real estate listing, all the show was fresh and pretty.

Tips for selling your home in the winter

I’ve shared my story of selling our house during winter. So, let me move on to sharing 5 tips in case you are interested in putting your home on the market during winter. This includes tips for selling a house with a pool when it’s winter.

1. Put color outside your house

While fresh snow in the winter makes everything look clean, it can also make the front of your house look boring. So be sure to add color to the outside of your home. This could be painting your front door a new, bright color, or adding a colorful wreath to that same door.

What about a bright new doormat outside? Or colorful, winter accessories, such as a vintage sled or skis tied together with a bright bow?

I know these latter suggestions sound like they would only work during the holidays. However, if you’re selling a home in a place with a vibrant winter sports community, they could make sense until the first thaw.

2. Make your home look and feel warm

You want your home to look and literally feel warm and inviting. First order of business: If you have a fireplace or wood stove, always have a fire going for showings and open houses.

At the same time, even if you’re frugal with the thermostat, splurge and raise it when people are there to look at your home. You don’t want anyone visiting your home to feel a chill. Also, that could read “drafty house” to potential buyers, and that’s not the vibe you want.

3. Green up your home inside when selling in winter

It may be winter outside, but that doesn’t mean you can have fresh flowers or other greenery inside. A great place to put those fresh flowers is in the entrance hall or on kitchen counters–or both. They can really brighten up your home and make all the difference when selling a home in the winter.

4. Create a mudroom area at the entrance of your home.

Consider creating a makeshift mudroom inside your home’s entrance. Furnish it with a dark-colored, washable absorbent mat for catching shoe debris and a bench in case people want to take off their shoes. If there isn’t a coat closet nearby, bring in a coat rack or put up a peg board up for coats.

selling a home in winter mudroom

Not only does this help keep your home clean, but also buyers with children will appreciate an entrance hall that’s functional like this. Then, they can envision the kids coming home and having a place to put their book bags, shoes and coats.

5. Since your pool is closed in winter, showcase it in pictures

As luck would have it, the aforementioned house we were selling had a pool. Obviously, the pool was closed and covered by the time people started coming for showings that winter. However, we wanted to make sure that prospective buyers could appreciate what an asset that in-ground, kidney-shaped pool was to the backyard.

We took pictures of our backyard pool when it was open, knowing we would be selling in the winter, when it would be closed.

Therefore, we had the foresight to have pictures taken of the backyard the previous summer. It showed the pool in all it’s glory.

We made sure that the Realtor included those pictures in the real estate add. Also, we printed out and framed some of those pool-scape pictures. We placed the frames in the kitchen so anyone walking through could see them.

You can sell a house in winter, really

So, is selling a home in the winter harder to do? Yes and no. Yes if your home has warm-weather features like a pool. Then you have to plan ahead for how you will showcase that when there’s a foot of snow on the ground. And no, because there are likely fewer houses for sale at the same time.

With reduced supply, your home, like ours, could have greater demand. For us winter turned out to be a very good time for us to sell our house.

As I mentioned, within days of listing our home, we had competing offers, all over asking. Within 72 hours of listing our home, we’d accepted one of the offers, and we closed a month later. In fact, the new owners had already moved in before spring even began.

What are the chances that you’ll have a similar experience with selling your house in the winter? If you price things right and work with the right real estate agent, I’d say your chances are pretty good.

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