By: Kimberly Gomes
The holiday season may be a busy time for families and Realtors alike, but don’t let that fact fool you. Contrary to popular belief data hints that winter may be an exceptional time to list a home after all.
According to Redfin’s December 2013 research, homes listed in winter have a 9 percent increased likelihood of selling, and also sell a week faster than homes listed in any other season. The company analyzed homes listed from March 22, 2011 through March 21, 2013 throughout major metropolitan areas, including San Francisco and San Jose. The results showed that homes listed during winter in the San Francisco area had a 69% likelihood of selling within six months versus spring’s 59% chance. While these figures may vary as individual markets fluctuate, it’s information worth considering.
So, what makes winter such an overlooked, yet opportune time to sell? Well, many homeowners hold off from selling their properties until the spring, a time historically viewed as ‘selling season.’ This trend decreases the inventory in the winter, which consequently lessens the competition for those putting their homes on the market. Homebuyers hunting during the holiday season also tend to be highly motivated, serious buyers.
“There is less competition during the winter and buyers who are out there are real. They have to buy, and they’re going to buy. The houses also look fabulous with the holiday decorations. They smell good. They look good. They feel inviting. So, if you have to sell I think it’s a great time to put a home on the market,” says Mary Gebhardt, Vice President of Alain Pinel Realtors and Manager of the Menlo Park and Woodside offices.
While sellers tend to make a conscious decision to list in spring, today’s competitive multiple-offer market has left many eager buyers still searching for properties. This reality creates continued opportunity for homeowners open to transitioning during the winter months.
Despite these facts many residents still hesitate to list during the holidays for a number of reasons. Given the busy holiday season and family gatherings, out of town guests are coming and going, making it an inconvenient time for moving. Families with kids may also be weary of pulling their child out of school mid-year. Fortunately, a rent back, which is when a seller retains possession of the property after close of escrow, may resolve these scenarios while helping sellers take advantage of the limited winter inventory.
“In today’s seller’s market, buyers are willing to do what is necessary to get the property even if that means providing a seller with a rent back. Sellers have just as good a chance of this happening in the winter as they would in the spring or summer. That is one way of accommodating a child’s need to stay in a certain school until the school year ends,” says Bill Lewis, Vice President of Alain Pinel Realtors and Manager of the Los Altos office.
Sellers looking to have their property listed in March should incorporate 4-6 weeks of lead time to cover the necessary prep work such as: de-cluttering, painting, hardwood floor repair, and staging, as well as inspections for the disclosure packet. Factoring this process in is imperative for those seeking top dollar sales prices.
“It used to be that everyone wanted to wait until after Super Bowl, but that went away a long time ago. Now, the reality is that you don’t want to wait, because you will have more competition in the spring market as a buyer,” says Bob Gerlach, Vice President of Alain Pinel Realtors and Manager of the Palo Alto office.
Naturally, deciding whether or not to sell a home can be tricky during any season. Start by seeking insight from a trusted professional with a notable track record in the mid-peninsula area. This basic step sets you up for success, knowing you’re acquiring up-to-date insight from an experienced, reputable Realtor.