Don’t worry about Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of six more weeks of winter — that doesn’t mean you have to wait to sell your home…
When most people think about listing their home, they imagine green grass and flowers framing the sign on their lawn. The “Spring Market” is the holy grail of real estate and most of us – I include agents here – are conditioned to believe this is the best time to sell or buy a home. However, there’s a lot to be said for listing your home in January or February.
At this point you are probably picturing mounds of grey snow and cold grey skies, icy sidewalks and muddy boots – and yes, all these things have to be factored into a winter listing. BUT…
In the last few years we’ve seen a trend where buyers who did not secure their home in the spring market reached their limit and dropped out of the equation by late summer or fall through the holidays. But come January, they are chomping at the bit to get back out there and buy. Combine that with the slew of new folks whose New Year’s resolutions include buying a home, and you’ve got a great pool of potential buyers.
Better still: no competition.
In the height of the spring market in any given week there may be five to ten or more properties vying for the same group of buyers. Now granted, in a low-inventory market like ours, the buyers will still outnumber the listings. But time and again, I’ve seen the same situation repeat itself: the majority or even all of the buyers flocking to one property (whichever is perceived as “best,” or often what is priced the lowest) while the others may get only one or two or even no offers. Everybody wants what everybody wants.
But when you list your home BEFORE the spring market, it’s likely you’ll be the only game in town, which means more buyer traffic and more potential offers.
This is what happened with the single family I listed in Arlington last week – it’s a great house with lots of charm, amazing light, a nice large, level backyard and is located in the most popular school district in town. It surely would have interest any time of year. However, if we had waited to list in March, there may have been other great houses in the same neighborhood – and if any of them had say, slightly larger bedrooms, or a garage, or were priced $50k less, we may not have had the interest we did (more than 100 parties through in just three days!) or received nine great offers.
A colleague of mine had similar success with a recent condo listing in Cambridge – it was a two-bedroom, one-bath with street parking – beautifully staged and in a great location, but nothing so unusual that it wouldn’t have some good competition in mid-April. But in January… it was literally THE ONLY new-to-market two-bedroom listing in the entire city and unsurprisingly, received 20 offers.
None of this is to say that you should try to plan your sale for January or February, but if you’re ready to sell and thinking you should wait til the snow melts and the flowers come out… well, maybe not.