9 Tips – Why Winter Can Be The Best Time To Sell

1. Inventory levels are dropping. Buyers indicate there is not enough inventory on the market–they’re looking and their choices are limited. Therefore, as a seller you have a distinct advantage in selling your home this winter season. There are interested buyers in the market looking for the right home. The Realtor.com Winter Home Buyer Report revealed that 45 percent of buyers indicate that there are not enough homes on the market within their price range. According to data available from the Midwest Real Estate Data there were 38,471 single family homes and condominiums listed for sale in November compared to 54,853 last year; inventory has dropped 28% from a year ago. Buyers in the market are looking for their right dream home and the biggest challenge for the housing market is a decreasing supply–your home may just be what a buyer is seeking. The National Association of REALTORS® reports inventory levels are at 13 year lows. The supply/demand is tilted to the seller’s advantage in most markets.

2. Time on Market is shrinking. The Illinois Association of REALTORS® data reveals the average days on market for homes in the Chicago PMSA area averaged 69 days through October, down from 91 days during the same period a year ago, a decrease of 24.2%. With strong demand, homes are moving faster on the market.

3. Mortgage Interest Rates are Destined to Go Higher: If you are looking to sell and purchase another home, you will want to lock in mortgage interest rates at the lowest level possible and as quickly as possible–waiting until spring may mean you will face higher rates. Right now interest rates remain historically low. NAR reports state that mortgage interest rates could reach 5.3% in 2014. That is a full percentage point higher than where they stand today at 4.31% according to Freddie Mac. On a $275,000 home locking in today’s mortgage rate at 4.31% for a 30-year fixed rate-mortgage means–an average monthly payment would be $1,362.51. Total Interest paid over life of loan = $490,503.60. Waiting until 2014, when interest rates could reach 5.3% or even higher for that same house, that same house payment could average $1,528.50. Total Interest for home paid over life of loan = $550,260.00.

4. Beat the Rush. Many sellers choose to stay in their homes in the winter and wait until spring to place their home on the market to increase their likelihood it will sell quickly. If the 2014 spring is anything like the spring 2013, there will be many more sellers ready to list. Why sit and wait until Spring when the competition will be more fierce? Keep in mind there are buyers during all seasons including wintertime. People just don’t shut off their interest in buying. Buyer demand is continuing. Don’t miss the chance that a buyer is looking to purchase in your neighborhood. Your home may fit the right parameters for a buyer today. Get motivated and ready to list your home to sell this winter. If there is any urgency here, it is buyers who are looking for the right home with limited inventory levels.

5. Prices are on the rise. Constrained inventory levels are pushing up home prices. Therefore, if conditions remain the same, sellers looking to move up in the market may face the fact they may pay higher prices for their next home if they delay their purchasing decision. The Chicagoland median home sale price was $175,000 in October, up 14.4% from October 2012. The national median existing-home price for all of 2013 will be up just over 11%, to about $197,000, and then is expected to increase nearly 6 percent next year.

6. Price It Right. Make sure you price your home competitively. A REALTOR® can help to advise you on pricing your home based on comparative market analysis and other market assessments. Tighter inventories means you also may stand a greater chance of gaining the price you are seeking for your home. There’s more competition for properties based on decreased inventory. It’s not uncommon to see multiple offers on properties. When you reach your optimum selling price, that gives you more money in your pocket when you go to make your next home purchase. Hire an expert to help you in the process. Be ready to negotiate when the offer comes knocking.

7. Take advantage of winter views. People have more time in the winter for their home search and to spend on-site at properties. Make sure you stage your home to make it comfortable, peaceful and cozy always. Indoor aromas are especially important and lit fireplaces can make your home a serene setting (never leave a fireplace unattended). Put a festive wreath on your door. Scented pinecones, potpourri and winter fragranced candles can deliver a memorable aroma experience to your home, but don’t overdo it! Winter also provides more natural lighting to a home that is not always apparent in the spring or summer with leaves on the trees and unobstructed views out windows and doorways. Let the sunlight in–open the shades and draperies. Make sure your windows are clean in all rooms of the house. Be sure to clear all walkways of snow and ice.

8. Homebuyers Love Energy Efficiency. Showcase how you are keeping your house warm in winter and cool in summer as economically as possible. According to the NAR Community Preference Survey, 85% of buyers say heating and cooling costs are “somewhat” or “very important” to them. Look for ways to make sure your home provides energy efficiency to appeal to more buyers. Now is your chance to show off your energy-efficient appliances, insulation, lighting, and any other investments and you’ve made to improve the energy efficiency in your home. Display any appliance manuals where buyers may see them. Learn more about energy tax credits available through December 31, 2013.

9. Get Settled Before Spring. Now is the chance to make your winter move before spring and summer when you’d rather be doing something else other than moving.

December 11, 2013

By Tracy Polgar, MORe Now

Taken with permission from Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS