Traditional real estate wisdom has it that spring and summer are the best time to list your home, but winter selling has some advantages that a lot of people aren’t aware of. There’s less competition, and buyers are usually more serious and more motivated. Although the number of homes for sale nationwide typically drops about 15% in November and December, sales themselves remain fairly steady. But you do have to be more savvy and aggressive, as well as cautious in some ways in colder climates, to get in on the winter-selling benefits. Here, then, are 5 things to watch out for when selling in colder climates such as Los Angeles.
1. Pricing for the Off-Season
If you don’t adjust your pricing strategy, you may be leaving money on the table for winter selling, especially people selling in colder climates such as Los Angeles. As we just mentioned, there are fewer homes for sale, and buyers are often more motivated. So you should probably price slightly higher, or at least test the waters with a higher price and see how it goes.
Buyers are more serious and motivated for a couple of reasons. “Job transfers occur often around the holidays as businesses get ready for a new year, plus families want to get their kids settled before a new semester starts.” Your local real estate agent can help you hammer out the best cold-climate pricing strategy. (To find out more, call 562-881-9811.)
2. Leveraging the Internet
The Internet doesn’t know any difference between summer and winter, warm climates and cold climates. That’s why whatever the season or temperature, almost all home buyers (93%) search for homes online. And that’s something people selling in colder climates such as Los Angeles should take advantage of.
Because serious buyers are always searching for homes online, you need to make sure your online listings are the best they can be, especially when it comes to the listing photos. “Buyers will try to minimize travel time in winter and will look online first. It’s essential to have professional photos with proper lighting.” You should also try to include photos that “showcase your home’s landscaping in other seasons.” Your agent can help you craft a top-notch, compelling listing even for selling in colder climates.
3. Doing What It Takes to Attract Buyers
Another thing people selling in colder climates such as Los Angeles need to watch out for is making sure they are doing everything it takes to attract buyers and keep them around for a while. This includes, the pros point out, seeing to some staging matters and emphasizing certain selling points, such as:
- Using judicious seasonal decoration – You should decorate in the line with the particular holiday season to make your home warm and inviting, but don’t overdo it. You want “to create an environment where buyers can see themselves celebrating.”
- Using plenty of lighting – “An abundance of exterior and interior lights are essential when showing your home at dusk or later.” This entails “putting in higher wattage light bulbs that provide a warm but not harsh light. Not every light needs to be on, but you should have at least one light in every room.”
- Making your home cozy – Begin by de-cluttering and cleaning, and then work on coziness by using soft blankets and extra pillows and lighting the fireplace.
- Showcasing energy efficiency – Energy efficiency will be particularly important for buyers in colder climates. So go ahead and point out all your energy-efficiency improvements such as the triple-pane windows and extra insulation in the attic. And don’t be shy about providing proof of your low utility bills.
4. Pushing for a Sale Before Year’s End
An important deadline people selling in colder climates such as Los Angeles should watch out for is the year’s end. Buyers who make their home purchase before the end of the year will be able to enjoy certain tax benefits, which become even more important when utility bills are on the rise. So don’t neglect to capitalize on the fact that many buyers will be motivated to close before January 1.
The typical home-purchase expenses home buyers can write off include mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance (PMI), and property taxes – all of which provide an incentive for a buyer to close before the new year. And added bonus is that if, in addition to selling your current home, you intend to buy a new home, you too can take advantage of these tax benefits if you beat the year’s end.
5. Using an Agent
As we mentioned above, there are several areas in selling in colder climates such as Los Angeles where a good real estate agent can be an invaluable asset. Colder weather and colder climates present more selling challenges – there’s just no way around it. So sellers who choose not to use an agent really are taking a risk.