Spring is prime time for real estate, but the choice to put a home up for sale or hunt for a new one is not always dictated by the seasons.
In fact, agents say that while the colder months come with disadvantages — including lower attendance at open houses and difficulty showing off attractive outdoor amenities, such as patios or pools — they can also provide some advantages.
“When you have buyers come to your house in a snowstorm, they are serious buyers,” says Kate Dunn, an agent with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.
Sellers tend to get less money in the spring because of supply and demand, says Gail Carillo of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Ronkonkoma.
On the flip side, winter buyers also have a slight edge when it comes to price negotiations, says Dina Powers of Coach Realtors.
“They know that sellers realize the buying pool is smaller and tend to be more negotiable when they get an offer,” Powers says.
New York City residents looking to move to the suburbs may also be more eager to pull the trigger on a purchase, as private preschool tuition deposits are due in February and March, says Maggie Keats of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
Benefits aside, here’s some advice for handling the challenges of a winter real estate market.
1. Take care with weather
Make sure driveways and walkways are shoveled and clear of snow and ice, keep plenty of ice melt on hand and have towels near the front door so that visitors can wipe off wet shoes. If you want prospective buyers to remove or cover their shoes, Dunn suggests making sure there’s a comfortable place for them to sit while they do so.
“You don’t want people to feel like they’re going through security at JFK,” Dunn says.
Powers notes that if there’s snow on the ground, buyers should be mindful of the fact that they might not get an idea of the true condition of decks, patios and pavers.
2. Show off interior amenities
Winter is an optimal time for showcasing a gas fireplace or a large formal dining room, which can be important during the holidays.
“You might have a fabulous mudroom, which is not as important in the summertime as it is in the wintertime,” Dunn says. “But when you have slushy boots and scarves and hats, it’s really nice to have that room.”
3. Highlight water views
While there may not be much attention on the outdoors, clear trees mean waterfront views may be more on display, Keats says.
“Winter is a lovely time to sell,” Keats says. “For waterfront homes, the vistas are just so clear, and it’s just a pure light that comes into the house.”
4. Tone down holiday decorations
When you’re selling around holidays, make sure not to over decorate, as it clutters the house and may add too much of a personal touch, Carillo says.
“It’s an emotional purchase, and people want to envision themselves there,” Carillo says.
5. Don’t use old photos
While it might seem better to have listing photos with a lush green lawn, it’s actually counterintuitive because old photos date a listing, Carillo says.
“The other houses that are competing with you also look like that,” Carillo says.