Received wisdom says that you shouldn’t try to sell your home over the winter. But is this an old wife’s tale or is there something to it?
It’s perfectly true that sales over the winter are lower than they are at other times of the year – that’s not surprising when Christmas is slap bang in the middle of winter. But sales don’t come to an end by any means. Allowing for a long break over Christmas, sales in west central Scotland are likely to run at about 1,500 or more per month even in deep mid-winter.
And when you think about it, that makes sense. Buyers, and you may well be among them, don’t stop looking for homes to buy just because its winter. Would you turn down the chance to buy your ideal home just because it was November? No and neither would I.
Even if the number of transactions does decline at this time of year, prices generally don’t. In the 13 years from 1999 to 2011, prices declined between the third and fourth quarters of the year on five occasions, rose on six occasions and showed no change on two occasions.
So the market doesn’t go to sleep over the winter after all.
Moreover, there are distinct advantages to putting your home on the market in winter. For a start, there is less choice for buyers because sellers have adopted conventional wisdom and decided not to put their home on the market until spring. That can help your home to stand out from the crowd and, with less competition for buyers, you have a better chance of selling.
Moreover, some properties look positively inviting in the winter. Lights shining from windows and a roaring fire (if you have one) give a homely feel and a reassuring impression that your home is warm and cosy. This is especially true in well established residential locations, particularly those with a high proportion of flats and terraced homes where gardens are a less prominent feature.
Just a note of caution, however. Whatever you do, don’t have photos of your home taken with the Christmas decorations up. They look out of date the moment you get to January. If you are thinking of selling, get the photos taken before you decorate your home and take the decorations down as soon as possible after Christmas.
That said, there are some properties that really should be marketed during the spring or summer to show them off at their best. If your home has a lovely garden, an outstanding view or any other external feature that is an important selling point, it’s probably best to wait for a bit of light.
If that doesn’t apply to your home, the winter might be a better time to sell than received wisdom might suggest.