OK, we’ve read the weather reports. It’s the coldest winter since the Pilgrims landed. Snow everywhere. Why would any sane client want to sell their home now? And why should you put time and effort into getting that listing? Here are a few reasons why, along with some tips for getting the job done quickly and easily.
- There’s less competition. Everybody else reads the weather reports too, and some of your fellow Realtors may feel it’s not worth the effort. But you’ve got a business to build. There are people who have to sell, no matter what the time of year or the weather. They’ve been relocated—did you know that more people get job transfers in January than in any other month? Perhaps they have financial issues, or they want to move to where they haven’t seen a snowflake since the Hoover administration. Whatever the reason, sellers are out there waiting for you to find them. Go for it.
- The pond is smaller. And what Realtor doesn’t want to be the biggest fish in the little pond? You might have fewer showings, but you’ll attract more qualified buyers. You’ll have more time to negotiate the best deal for your clients. A buyer might have thirty homes to choose from in June, but now there are only ten that fit their wish list criteria. If they are serious buyers, they will choose one of those ten. It could be yours.
- You can look pretty. During the holidays, the home you’re listing can be the equivalent of the Queen (or King) of the prom. Thanksgiving suggests pumpkins, horns of plenty, scented candles, and a fire in the fireplace. Christmas offers even more opportunities—the gorgeous, sparkling tree, the smell of cookies and gingerbread baking, stockings “hung by the chimney with care.” Potential buyers will picture themselves in this scene come next holiday season and they will want to be there.
Now that you know why winter can be your selling season, here are five useful tips to pass on to your clients as they prepare to welcome potential new owners.
- Keep it clean. If you live in the snow belt, make sure your sidewalks and driveways are kept clear. Shovel every day if you need to. And beware of melting and freezing sidewalks—a definite safety hazard. Have some sand ready to sprinkle and make sure your railings and steps are in good repair. What to do with all that extra snow? Build a welcoming snowman in the front yard!
- Keep it warm. Wandering through a cold house is not going to warm the hearts of your potential buyers. When you have a showing scheduled, keep the heat at a reasonable level (at least 72°) and light a fire in the fireplace before potential buyers show up. Have a place near the front door to hang wet coats and scarves.
- Keep it festive. Have a holiday-themed welcome mat at your front door and a pretty wreath hanging on the door to go with it. Indoor decorations should suit the home and your family’s lifestyle. If there’s no room for a gigantic live tree, try garlands and tabletop arrangements. If there are small children in the home, keep toys and other childish items out of the way. Scented candles add warmth and the smell of baking cookies can warm even the heart of Scrooge.
- Keep it light. A dark house has the same psychological effect on buyers as a cold house. Use lighting to show off the home’s best features. Lamp light is softer and warmer than ceiling lights. If you have late day showings, be aware that the sun goes down at 5 p.m. or earlier on winter days, so be sure the porch and exterior lights are on too.
- Keep it safe. The holidays are prime time for burglars. If the presents under your tree are visible from the outside, make sure the security system is turned on when the open house or showing is over. Open houses are prime targets for thieves. As a Realtor, you can’t be in every room at once and it gives them a great opportunity to “case the joint,” as the saying goes. Don’t let anyone see you when you reset the alarm system either.
To the savvy Realtor, there is no “bad” time to sell. Some seasons may be more challenging and may take a little more creativity and ingenuity than others. But if you and your seller work together, you can cover all the bases and put together a deal that’s a winner for all concerned.