The Truth about Winter Real Estate


Some call it the off-season for real estate, but successful agents know better. Winter is actually a great season to sell a home. If you aren’t telling potential clients about the winter real estate advantage – right now – then you will have an off-season this winter.

Numbers Don’t Lie – Winter Isn’t so Bad

The truth about winter real estate – why it’s not a bad time to sell a homeNational Association of Realtors® statistics tell us that fewer homes sell in winter than spring. Their studies show that in November, home sales slide about 8 percent. In January, they slide even more – 27 percent to be exact. These numbers make sense: Fewer homes are on the market in the winter, so naturally, fewer homes sell.

The media often steps in and trumpets these statistics, adding their own take as to why. If they told the whole truth, I have a feeling we’d have far more winter clients.

What is the whole truth about winter real estate? Homes are more likely to sell in winter than at any other time of year. Not only that, they sell quicker and they sell for more money. These statistics hold, at various percentages, whether the home is in balmy San Diego, Calif., or snowy Washington D.C.

In fact, according to a late 2013 study, the likelihood of selling a D.C. home within six months in the winter is 67 percent, while it’s only 57 percent in summer and 60 percent in spring.

NAR does us no favors by claiming that the reason for the winter sales slump is because of January’s “cold, dark weather” across most of the country. Sure, that’s part of the reason, but most of the slide in sales may be due to the media helping to form public perception that winter is a horrible season for real estate deals.

Less Competition From Other Sellers

“Just your luck – you have to sell your home in winter, the slowest and dreariest sales season of all,” begins a column on winter real estate from USA Today. “Winter can be the toughest season to put a house on the market,” claims a writer at Fox News before he goes on to give tips to increase “chances of a winter sale.”

Naturally, many homeowners read these news items and decide to hold out until spring. Worse yet are the homeowners who take their homes off the market as winter approaches, aiming to re-list in spring. Sadly, they may be missing a prime opportunity to finally get the home sold – and for top dollar. Because other homeowners took the bait, however, there is far less competition for those that do list, and homeowners are definitely in the driver’s seat in a winter transaction.

Buyers Are More Motivated During Winter

What would motivate someone to buy real estate in the dead of winter, especially in areas with wicked weather? Job transfers are high on the list of reasons, so if you practice real estate in an area with large influxes of transferees, winter is an even better time to sell.

“It’s true that if your home isn’t on the market in winter, the new Microsoft manager relocating from California won’t see it and will thus buy another home,” writes Seattle agent and broker Sam DeBord for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“But that same situation for a home seller who is on the market is magnified. Your competition is nowhere to be seen,” he continues. “While the buyer may have had 30 homes to choose from in June, there may only be 10 homes that fit their criteria in January. If they are motivated to buy, they will choose one of those 10 homes.”

Spread the Word to Your Prospects

Do your prospective sellers know the winter real estate secret? The time to let them know is right now, and one of the best ways to do that is via your blog, social media networks or newsletter. Bust the winter selling myth and bash the media’s ill-conceived perceptions.

The call to action? Even though they won’t be listing until winter, urge them to allow you or your photographer to snap the marketing photos now, while the sky is still blue and the trees still have their leaves. Even California has deciduous trees and flowering perennials that look much better now than they will in a few months.

Winter doesn’t have to be the off-season, but it takes agents educating homeowners about the benefits of the season to make that happen.