The Winter Marketplace
Selling and buying in the "off season"
Wintertime in the real estate market brings some special conditions, so here’s some thoughts for buyers and sellers. Now is the time to decide if you are going to be selling your home or entering the market as a buyer or both. As a seller, you should take a good look at your home and yard or acreage before the snow flies and assess what you need to do inside and out to maximize your property appeal and value.
If the outside grounds can be made to look good in the fall and winter, then they should be a knockout in spring and summer. Go through your home and make sure that your non essential furniture and collections of “things” (we all have them) are not overcrowding the house and that shelves. While you’re at it, see that windows and light fixtures are clean and all the lights and lamps have working bulbs. Winter is gloomy enough without adding to the atmosphere.
It’s a good time to fix up the garage and outbuildings (if you have them) by making sure they are all neat and tidy. Also, if you have firewood, make sure it is stacked and organized. For fire safety, don’t stack firewood next to your home.
Winter grounds-keeping is important and shoveled pathways beat tracks in the snow or mud when someone is coming to view your property.
Back inside the house, winter is a great time to do a little wallpapering or some painting along with some furniture rearranging to create a changed look that helps brighten up a part of your home for winter showings. As you get into spring, if your home is still available then, you should assess your property price for the market as well as getting ready for spring.
Remember that while the winter market can be a good one, it is not usually as fast as the warmer months. On the plus side, there are not as many places on the market and it can be a great time to be available for sale.
If you are shopping, wintertime can bring great opportunities, especially if a property you like has been for sale since the past summer, as the seller may respond better to a good offer but at a lower level.
When you shop, view those properties that have been around for a while but not moving. See what they could do for you, and at what cost, to make it your special place.
Then review those factors, check out the market and make your offer - see how the seller responds. Maybe you will get it and get ready to move. If you can’t come to terms on that one, take a look at the market to see if there is another that might work. If there is no other place that hits your fancy, tell your agent to keep you informed and watch the marketplace yourself. Eventually, you’ll find what you want.
However make sure you are on top of values so that you and/or your agent are not wasting time with offers that are so low sellers won’t even respond.
In any season you need to be practical in buying or selling real estate. Don’t over-value as a seller and don’t under-value as a buyer. Work with a real estate professional who is on top of the current market and who provides you with realistic data to help you. Proper pricing as a seller and realistic offers if you are a buyer are the key to a successful real estate experience.
Happy shopping and or selling. Keep your wits about you and be realistic- you’ll get where you both need and want to be.
Steve Van Horne is an associate broker with Coldwell Banker Resort Realty in Sandpoint.