Ending the Debate about Entering the Local Listings in Winter

If you intend on listing your town home sometime soon, this is the time of year when you may well be uncertain about whether you should go ahead right now, or hold fire and wait. The question is whether winter is a reasonable time to enter the local listings when, after all, it’s common knowledge that spring and summer are the most active real estate seasons. Is that fact alone reason enough for not listing now?

I happen to know the answer (it’s “maybe”). But since that’s only my opinion, in the interest of including a wider sampling of opinion, here are some experts’ ideas gleaned from extensive research on the subject. (Okay—there are 155,000,000 Google entries for ‘should I list my house in the winter’, but this research only took about five minutes):

  • From some sources: yes (“Homes listed in winter sell faster–46 days vs 55 days”—Redfin).
  • From the other sources (especially when you ask in spring): no.

As is clear from that extensive research, expert opinions are divided, probably based on when you’re asking. If you come to the conclusion that no conclusion is likely to be valid, I share that. But that doesn’t mean you have no basis for making your own decision. Here is why ‘maybe’ is not just a correct answer—it’s also a helpful one.

The fact is that winter (actually, fall and winter) are seasons when the number of buyers drops off, which results in fewer total sales. The same fact creates an atmosphere that causes fewer sellers to decide to enter the local listings. In fact, some sellers who have had properties on the market actively withdraw them from the listings, figuring that they might as well wait until spring to reintroduce them. Fewer properties for sale also means that buyers see less variety available, so some of them also decide (you guessed it) to give up the search until spring.

If this sounds like a vicious circle, it is.

But there is also a counter fact that’s easily overlooked. Those who begin house hunting at this time of year are more likely to be more determined to find a home, pronto. Those who are doing their real estate scouting amid all the holiday hustle and bustle are likely to be responding to some kind of time pressure. And from the sellers’ standpoint, there are fewer local listings— thus less competition. Serious buyers …less competition… EUREKA!

So winter is the best time to list a local property, right?  No. The answer is still ‘maybe.’

The reason has to do with your own individual situation. Because there are fewer buyers actively looking, there is a lesser likelihood that THE buyer will find his way to your door. The one who appreciates your home enough to snap it up is more likely to be shopping when there are more shoppers. Other cautions have to do with whether you are willing to put your home into top shape for sale in winter weather—as well as being willing to be ready for showings during the holiday season.

The bottom line is if time is a factor—and you have reason to want to sell now rather than at some time in the future, this winter is the right time to enter the area listings. If there is no pressing reason why it’s important sell as soon as possible, you could as easily hold fire until later.

That’s why ‘maybe’ is as valid an answer as you are likely to get. And no matter how you decide, when you are ready to sell (actually, a bit before you’re ready) it’s definitively the right time to give me a call!

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