REAL ESTATE: Winter home sales can bring in cold, hard cash

Columnist Freddy Marks explains how listing your property in the winter can have unexpected benefits

Planning a spring listing for your home or property? You might be surprised to learn that there are many benefits to having potential purchasers view your home in the winter months.

The short lull around the December holidays turns into a mid-January movement of seriously motivated buyers. You can achieve profitable results and a lot of interest in your listing during the winter, thanks to three distinct advantages.

Fewer listings means better offers

Most sellers wait until the spring to list their homes, which means less competition for your listing from other sellers. Buyers have fewer options in the winter, and if they choose your house, they’ll be more likely to make higher offers to secure it.

Additionally, the low inventory can create increased competition among buyers, which can result in a higher sales price. Any experienced real estate agent will tell you your home won’t sell if it’s not priced right; for quality properties, the concentrated demand that comes with a shortage of listings will often drive prices up.

Winter brings motivated buyers

Anyone looking at houses during the winter is most likely pre-approved for a mortage and extrememly motivated to buy. The people who book viewings do so because they cannot wait until spring to purchase a home. These are not browsers, but motivated buyers who want to take advantage of a less competitive market and get their hands on their ideal home.

You will also attract buyers who aren’t necessarily restricted by school districts or neighbourhood. That’s because buyers with school-age kids tend to do their house hunting and moving in the spring and summer months.

Online listings mean year-round exposure

With online listings being the go-to platform for real estate, listings now have the same exposure year round. You can help buyers assess the condition of your roof and landscaping with summer photos, and by including winter images, you can provide a year-round perspective that builds confidence in your home’s potential.

Always arrange the winter photos first, starting with the exterior and then interior images. Then add your spring and summer photos to the end of the collection, so your listing doesn’t appear to have been on the market for a long time.

Some final tips

There’s an overlooked advantage to having a winter-ready home. Solid, well-insulated construction with proper drainage for water run-off ensures your home is able to withstand years of harsh elements and frigid temperatures. Show off your easy-to-shovel drivway, fireplace, double-pane windows, new furnace, and well-insulated roof and pipes. This is particularly important with older houses, as it builds confidence in how your home was constructed, its heating efficiency and overall potential.

As always, start with the right real estate agent who will correctly price your home, and help them to create the most detailed online listing. Your agent should have a strategy for targeted market exposure for your property type.

Finally, have a fire going during your showing. Showcase your hot tub or sauna, and highlight the features that wil make the buyer’s life easier in the winter months.

Nothing can be as comforting as arriving to a warm home and finding a cozy fire going with the smell of fresh-baked bread or cookies in the air. People spend a lot of time indoors in the winter, and making your home feel like a great space to spend time in can tip the scales in your favour.

As we come to the end of February, the majority of B.C. will still be under winter’s white cape for another month or longer. With quick action and a solid plan, you can achieve successful and profitable results by listing now, before spring arrives.

Freddy Marks, together with his daughter Linda Marks, runs Agassiz’s 3A Group Sutton Showcase Realty. He has been a Realtor in Canada and Germany for more than 30 years, and currently lives in Harrison Hot Springs.

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