Spring may be the traditional sales season in real estate, but the truth today is that the property market is open for business year round. Every season brings unique benefits – the challenge lies in making the most out of them. And winter – gloomy weather notwithstanding – is no different. All that’s required is a little research, some savvy staging and a good sales pitch.
Winter is often overlooked by property sellers in favour of autumn and spring. Autumn has the back-from-holiday appeal, and spring has long been known as the peak season for selling. Wherever you are in the world, there are fewer properties on the market in winter, fewer people searching and fewer sales completed.
However, the smaller number of property listings in winter brings about a drop in competition for buyers’ attention. Real estate agents will have less on their plates, too, allowing them to better focus on your property. The effect on value is positive: data from the US housing market in 2017 shows that January and February are both among the top five months of the year for properties selling above their list price. Winter buyers are serious, and will pay a premium for the right property.
Curb appeal becomes less of a consideration when the weather is frosty. With no flowers in the window box, the key to earning that premium is showing the buyers that your property is a safe investment. That means ensuring your property is in perfect condition, as well as warm, dry and cosy from the moment they walk through the door.
Buyers will search for structural flaws in your property – especially in the roof, doors and windows. They will also scrutinise your heating system, so it’s wise to service your boiler and complete other essential maintenance before listing your property. Luxury features shouldn’t be completely overlooked, however – just make sure you tailor them to the season. Underfloor heating, a steam room or heated outdoor areas are all ideal highlights for a winter sale.
Far from keeping buyers away, holiday festivities can actually boost your property’s appeal. If you’re near a Christmas market, for example, winter could well be your time to shine. Bear in mind that this sort of benefit might not be immediately obvious to buyers, so let your estate agent know about any nearby attractions. That way, they can highlight them during the viewing.
When it comes to staging, avoid common missteps such as bold colours and over-personalising. Instead, use a light touch to accentuate the property’s charms. A tastefully decorated Christmas tree may appeal, but gaudy tinsel and fairy lights are more likely to put off buyers. Each item of décor should draw attention to your property’s best features, not distract from them. When its most attractive qualities are highlighted, a property can sell for as much as 20% more. That’s the value of staging.