The Advantages of Selling Your Home in Winter

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 05/08/24 •  5 min read

The housing market is definitely cooling. If you find yourself struggling to sell your home for the price you want after seeing your neighbors sell for crazy prices just a year ago, you may get advice from your real estate professional to take your home off the market in the winter to “refresh” the listing for the new year, and then re-list the home in the spring. 

But I would argue that if you want to sell your home, it should absolutely be on the market during the winter.

It’s Not the Hassle It’s Made out To Be

I’ve helped my in-laws sell their home close to the holidays (well, ok, Dan helped and I just offered my two cents here and there). They were worried, unsurprisingly, that they would be put out by showings during the holidays if their home is on the market.

The truth is that all they had to do was to tell their agent to put them on a “winter showing schedule”.

Your agent can field all calls for showings, pre-approve buyers, and arrange showings for them around your schedule, that’s their job.  

You can even designate certain times and days that the house will not be available, and during those times you should be undisturbed unless a very serious buyer wants to see the home and the agent has personally scheduled it (with your ok).

The Advantages of Selling During the Winter

The truth is, homes on the market in winter, are actually more likely to sell, sell more quickly, and sell at less of a discount.  Here’s why:

Changing Dynamics in Home Buyer Searches

Real estate professionals used to discourage home sellers from winter listings because of the lack of potential buyers, mostly for logistical concerns.  People go on vacation, there’re fewer daylight hours to view homes, and bad weather inhibits buyers from taking extensive tours of homes for sale.

But in our post-pandemic world, this is a very minor issue. 

In fact, 95% of recent home buyers used online tools during their home search, according to the National Association of Realtors.  They’re searching at night after dark.  They’re browsing real estate websites while out of town, at Grandma’s after a long Thanksgiving dinner.  They’re driving around their desired neighborhood, viewing available homes on a mobile phone, in the safety of their warm vehicle.

The way buyers search for homes has changed, and their location, the time of year, and the weather have even less effect on their ability to view homes than they used to back when we hadn’t used the internet for everything for two years.

Changes in Home Buyers’ Mobility (Particularly in Cold Climates)

Maybe even more significantly, the home-buying population today has become far more mobile.  North Americans move to new cities at a far greater rate than in generations past.  These home buyers move at all times of the year.

Though it’s true more homes sell in the spring, the percentage of homes sold in winter compared to total sales has risen significantly over time.  Home buyers’ changing employment and mobility situations have lessened the seasonal effect that we’re used to quoting in real estate circles. 

There are certainly still fewer sales in winter, but that brings me to my next point.

Competition Is Lighter in Winter

This is one of the most significant factors that I don’t believe most home sellers think about.

While it’s true that if your home isn’t on the market in winter, a potential online buyer won’t see it and will thus buy another home.  But that same situation for a home seller who is on the market is magnified.  Your competition is nowhere to be seen. 

While the buyer may have had 30 homes to choose from in June, there may only be 10 homes that fit their criteria in January. If they are motivated to buy, they will choose one of those 10 homes.

Sellers who stick out the market through the winter actually increase their chance to sell significantly.  When the smaller number of winter sales are compared to the smaller inventory of available homes, you’ll see that an individual home seller may actually be just as likely to have their home sell in winter as in summer.

Inventory Is Already Down

This effect is multiplied when inventory is already unnaturally low, as it is this year.  The inventory of homes for sale is still below the level of need for most large cities in North America, many people are put off by the cooling markets, and a lot of folks may need to downsize thanks to higher interest rates.

Available homes for sale this winter will be even more scarce than in recent years with new home sales slowing (thanks to building material inflation, borrowing rates going up, and slow sales), and reasonable listings will likely sell at a very high rate.

Conclusion: Don’t Let the Slow Market Detur You!

The common thought was that more homes sell in the spring.

But this may just be a case of real estate agents needing to use more updated marketing practices than they’ve had to in the past few years.

Home sellers today who adapt to our changing situation, the new, slower real estate landscape, and the modern buyer’s online searching habits put themselves at a significant advantage over their selling competition–even in the winter.

References

Highlights From the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. (2021). National Association of REALTORS®. Retrieved October 28, 2022 from: https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers

thewriteDuffy

At home, April is a mom, wife, and DIY darling. Among other home projects, she helped her husband Dan renovate their 1986 bungalow and is currently designing and decorating the 2023 custom home they are building themselves. Professionally, April is a writer, author, and online marketer with 15 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines, building online authority websites, and publishing books.