After working in real estate I learned that the market follows a few distinct patterns. For example, home sales peak in the summer when the weather is nice and slump in the winter. Many buyers take a break from looking at houses, or wait to start looking at all, until they get passed the holiday season and the weather gets a bit nicer. That doesn't mean that you can't sell your house in the middle of December though, you just have to take a different approach. Here a few tricks I've learned about selling in a slow season.
Increase Your Advertising
During peak sales months, you can advertise in fewer places and still draw in plenty of potential buyers. During a slump, you don't have as many buyers looking in the ads, so you need to advertise in as many outlets as possible to reach the buyers that are looking in the winter. For example, when I meet with new sellers, I suggest that they advertise in three ways: in the local newspaper, on real estate websites, and either through flyers placed outside of the house or in a printed real estate magazine. Doing this much advertising will cost more, but you'll reach more buyers this way.
Avoid Holiday Decorations
I once worked with a home seller that decorated her entire house, and her yard, for Christmas. While she thought the decorations were beautiful, I had more than a few buyers tell me that all of the flashing lights and dancing Santa's were a turnoff.
You don't have to miss Christmas entirely while you are trying to sell your house, but keep your decorations to a minimum. Remember that buyers who tour are there to see how the house looks every day, not just during the holidays.
Pay Attention to the Weather
If you live in a northern state where snow is a frequent occurrence, you will have to plan your open houses around what they're saying on the Weather Channel. To play it safe, avoid any days where there is a 30 percent or more chance of heavy snow. Also, make sure that your walkways, driveways, and porches are treated for ice. If a buyer were to fall on your property, they could sue you for their medical treatments and possible pain and suffering. It probably would never happen, but it is best to play it on the safe side and keep your potential buyers safe.
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