Anyone looking to list their home might think the smart thing to do is wait until spring arrives, but a new study by the online real estate agency Redfin suggests otherwise.
Contrary to popular belief, Redfin’s research shows that winter is often the best time to sell, shop for or buy a home. After looking at nationwide data of home listings, time on the market and sale price between 2010 and this past October, Redfin found that listing a home in December, January, February or March is the ideal time for homeowners to receive more than their asking price, according to the Los Angeles Times. In fact, 17% of home sales from December of 2012 were above asking price, which was the highest for the year.
The study also found that 66% of homes listed in the month of February sold within 90 days, making it a good month to sell for homeowners who are in a hurry. After the first two years of the study, researchers concluded that winter was the best time to list a home for sellers in all 19 major U.S. housing markets, including cold-weather cities like Boston and Chicago.
While there are advantages to selling in the winter, they are not monumental compared the spring and summer selling season. Still, the benefits of winter home sales keep the cold season competitive with the warmer months.
Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson says that part of what makes the winter a great season for real estate is that unlike the spring and summer months, winter home shoppers are more serious about actually purchasing a home. It also helps that many sellers take their homes off the market over the winter and wait for spring to list them again. This makes for less competition among those sellers who keep their houses on the market throughout the winter.
For home shoppers, winter also presents an opportunity to get a bargain on a great home. Many winter sellers are more willing to negotiate prices over the winter, especially if they didn’t get an offer during the fall.
“One of the best reasons to sell a home in the winter time is that even though the buyer time is down, the buyers that are out there doing open houses and shopping around are actually qualified buyers. Another reason is that during the holiday season is when most people’s homes are in the cleanest conditions it’s been in all year, preparing for family, friends, guests to visit and such. Thirdly, a lot of families that are looking to move mid year start looking during Christmas break because it’s when they have time and their kids have already finished half of the school year. All in all, winter is a great time to buy/sell a home.”
Temperatures may be cooling down across the country, but for home sellers and shoppers willing to stick it out during the cold winter, things are just heating up.