Timing the sale of your home can make a big difference in how long it’s on the market and what it sells for.

In the past, about half of all houses that sold were sold during the spring and summer months. But the stats are changing.

If you need to list your home in the fall or winter, don’t be discouraged. In fact, there can be some surprising advantages.

Deals happen quickly

From October through December home closings can happen quickly because people want to be in their new home for the holidays.

If they are shopping for a home over the winter, it could be that they want to -- or need to -- move soon. They are less likely to stall or drag out negotiations.

This article in the Washington Post points out that listed houses stay on the market less time in winter than during the so-called more popular selling seasons.

It's a time for fresh starts

Maybe your future buyer is starting a new job in the New Year, or has decided, with the holidays behind him, to begin his house search ahead of house-hunting season.

Maybe he’s made a resolution to improve the quality of his life with a better home.

These buyers are motivated, and there is less competition because many home sellers (your competitors) are waiting for the “busy season” or are too involved with the holidays to list their home mid-winter.

According to sources like Fox Business News, November through January is prime time for home sales. Statistics show that while families with school-aged children used to make up the bulk of home buyers, today many home buyers are unmarried or without children, so the theory that most buyers prefer to move in the early summer is a myth.

And, not every family with children is looking outside its present school district, so timing isn’t critical for them.  

If you plan it right, your holiday wreath can take you
from Thanksgiving all the way to New Year's Day.

The serious buyers are ready 

During the cooler months you won’t be bothered so much by lookie-loos, folks who are just curious or window shopping for a dream house they’re not prepared to purchase. Spring and summer bring out the people who open-house-hop on Sundays for fun.

But, winter brings out the qualified buyers. They are the ones prequalified by their lender, the ones ready to make a purchase offer.   

Labor is more accessible 

It can be easier to get on the schedule of contractors like carpenters, roofers, painters, home stagers, and landscapers to do your repairs and upgrades. You might even get discount rates. Local home inspectors, lenders, real estate agents, and lawyers may have more flexible schedules and rates during the fall and winter (although things grind to a halt the week between Christmas and New Years Day).

Consequently, your budget goes further in the slow season. And your schedule moves along more quickly, saving carrying costs and annoying delays. 

Sentimentality sells

People are nostalgic about winter holidays, family traditions, and the school vacations they’ve taken when they were young. You can stage your home to capitalize on that warm and fuzzy feeling of a home that’s special, inviting, and approachable. Seasonal decor plays an important role when you stage your home.

During a home showing, a man will be pondering where the big-screen television will go, while his wife will be wondering where the Christmas tree will go and whether the dining room is large enough to accommodate extended family for Thanksgiving. If you traditionally stage for the winter holidays, she'll have her answers.
Even if you do not stage specifically for your particular holiday,
staging a dining room so that homebuyers can envision celebratory meals
makes an impression and gives them ideas and information. Photo: Candice Olson

Buyers are on vacation

People travel during the winter holidays. Do you live in or near a travel destination? Most of us have visited a place or traveled through a town, and thought, “I would love to live here!”

No matter where I am, when I meet new people I always ask them why they moved to where they live. It’s interesting how many times I’ve heard the same story. “We were on vacation and we fell in love with the place.”

Let’s not forget that people buy second homes. If they are financially comfortable, a home that offers amenities unlike their primary residence is a serious option for many. So, even if your home isn’t on the water, or in ski country, it could have features attractive to buyers such as proximity to family, tax breaks, being close to recreation areas, or simply offering a different local culture, a new view, or another lifestyle.

People with the finances to afford a second home often travel for the holidays,
and they could be coming to a town near you. Are you ready? 

The climate can be a draw

If you live in the Southern U.S., winter could be the most attractive season for your particular brand of buyers. Northerners relocating, retiring, investing in properties, or shopping for a vacation home are actively looking all year. Winters in Tampa, San Diego, Atlanta, Tucson and similar hot spots (and in neighboring small towns) are still prime time for buying and selling.

Because people shop online more during bad weather, your web listing is especially important. It helps to have online photos that show off your property favorably in all seasons. 

Buyers are looking for a tax advantage

A person looking for ways to lower his income taxes could be your perfect buyer. By purchasing before the end of the year, he’ll be able to deduct what he spends, including points, interest, and property taxes. If he happened to sell his residence during the summer and needs to reinvest that money, he’ll be motivated to close in order to avoid paying capital gains tax.
So, if you want to list your property during the "slow season," there’s no reason to wait. Home buying doesn’t stop and start when a calendar page flips over. Stage it, price it right and they will come. But don't stage your home before downloading my eBook, DIY Home StgingTips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar.