In the midst of one of the worst winters on record, many property owners dismay, erroneously believing real estate buyers do not shop for homes and land in winter. Wrong!
With the advent of the Internet and wireless technology, buyers search online for land and lots year round. In the past, the search for a home or land typically involved a review of local newspaper ads to compile a list of properties for sale that met your criteria, then driving to a diverse array of different locations and inspecting the properties in person. Admittedly, winter weather curtailed this activity.
In the past, buyers did not have access to the same visual resources and Internet search tools available today. Back then; buyers need to do more legwork involving more site visits and wasted time. When winter weather arrived, many homeowners would take their homes off the market, feeling there was little use in trying to sell until spring. Who would want to get out in the snow and cold to look at their property?
Not today! Times have changed. Currently over 90% of real estate buyers search for property online. This method of property evaluation has actually increased more than 250% over the last 4-year period with buyers looking for, researching, evaluating and ultimately deciding to purchase real estate online.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR), a trade association with over 1.2 million members representing the nation’s real estate industry, and Google recently teamed up to research online trends for real estate buyers, and compiled convincing evidence that the Internet is the most important marketing tool for sellers and buyers to use in winter and every season in this age of ever-evolving digital technology.
- Most buyers use a real estate agent and often find them online, with real estate broker-related searches on tablets and mobile devices growing 300% year over the past year.
- The growth of buyers using the Internet, tablets and smartphones to find information on new home opportunities and homebuilders is even greater, growing at a rate of 362% year after year.
The NAR-Google report revealed that the majority of real estate buyers now search for property, homebuilders, and real estate agents from the convenience of a warm and toasty living room, curled up on the couch. Today’s buyers enjoy the flexibility of searching for land or homes property year round, no matter the weather, time of year or where the property is located.
In areas where winter weather keeps buyers indoors, it should be all the more reason to make sure your property is prominently featured online. In fact, the typical seasonal slow-down in property listings means fewer homes for sale, giving your property a bigger chance to stand out and be noticed.
No matter if your landscape is covered with six feet of snow and the roads are impassable, your online listing provides details for potential buyers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When you list your property with a professional realtor, the property is included in Multi-List, a national database of properties for sale as well as being featured on the brokers website. Complete property descriptions, photos, maps, schools locations and local community information provide both local and out-of-town buyers what they need to take notice.
If the property you are selling is in a year-around warm and sunny location, play that up in any advertising copy about your home making sure to mention how close you are to the beach, walking trails and sun-filled recreational opportunities. When winter winds blow, many out-of-town buyers thinking about relocating, are swayed in their decision by a drop in the mercury.
Many realtors offer sellers the added option of adding an online virtual tour of the home that features its selling strongest points. So even if bitter north winds howl, viewers can still see how beautiful your home and surrounding landscape looks the rest of the year.
Work with your real estate agent to ensure that your property is featured on all major Internet real estate listing websites for exposure to the greatest number of potential buyers. Potential buyers are on the lookout for new listings or ones they may have overlook in a previous search. Update photos and information frequently to keep your listing fresh. National real estate listing websites include:
If the exterior photos of your home were taken during the summer months and the property is still on the market at the first of the year, arrange a re-shoot with your real estate agent’s photographer. Try to schedule the shoot on a sunny morning after a fresh snow so the yard does not look drab and dirty. Hopefully the photographer can include some bright blue sky and a bit of greenery. It’s important that photos of your property are current with the season so that the listing does not appear dated.
Forget focusing on the time of year. Focus on the market. For sellers of homes and land, winter may be the best time to list your property for sale. Because of the misconceptions held by many sellers that winter is the wrong time to try to sell, real estate inventories are low. For sellers, this means less competition for buyers.
Dan Green, a mortgage expert writing for TheMortgageReports.com presents encouraging news for sellers and prudent advice for buyers, noting, “Purchasing power is 8% higher than it was last year. With home values expected to rise in 2015, then, the best deals you get in housing may be the ones you find today.”
Tips For Prepping Your Property For Sale In Winter
- Set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature to make ensure your home is warm, inviting and to give the buyer a reason to linger, especially on a cold winter day. Now is not the time to try to economize on winter heating bills. If your home feels chilly and drafty, buyers will not stick around, much less make an offer. “It doesn’t need to be hot; it needs to be not cold,” says Ronald Phipps, immediate past president of the National Association of Realtors and principal broker with Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I.
- Keep driveways, sidewalks and front porch steps free from ice and snow to allow prospective buyers to access your home easily. Also, keeping the property shoveled and salted makes the home appear well maintained. If you are not occupying the property, hire a service to salt and shovel driveways and walkways.
- Make sure windows and mirrors are clean and shinny. During winter, interior space can appear dull and gloomy. Warm up your home with light. Open shutters, drapes and blinds to let in natural light and turn on table lamps and indirect lighting fixtures to highlight the home’s interior features.
Abraham Eways, an established realtor in the Las Vegas, NV market offer sound advice to sellers, stating, “Learn from what others have done, but then carve out your own path, dealing with whatever comes along. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Above all, never give up.”