- #1: Take advantage of the fact that there are fewer buyers in the marketplace at this time of the year ~ In a balanced real estate market (versus a strong Seller’s market as we have here in the Denver area), the winter season can mean more leverage for buyers. Sellers who keep their homes on the market during the winter months are generally “motivated,” and need to sell their home (for example, a job relocation that requires them to start on January 1st). This translates into more negotiation power for the buyer – a discount on the list price, inclusion of the appliances, or more flexibility on the closing date.
- #2: If you can’t start your home search until the Spring, use the winter months to start lining up your real estate team ~ Now is the time to start interviewing the people who will help you with the different facets of your home purchase: your Realtor (you can connect with me and/or search the Denver MLS at www.SuburbanDenverProperties.com), lender, home inspector, and homeowner’s insurance provider. We always recommend that our clients have their prequalification letter in-hand before we start looking at homes so that they can be in a stronger position when they find their dream home and want to move quickly on an offer. So, when the year rolls over to January 1st, start working on your taxes so that you have the prior year’s information ready to hand to your lender rather than waiting until Tax Day approaches – your accountant will also thank you!
- #3: Buying during the winter months allows you to evaluate a home’s “winter fitness” ~ It’s hard to tell if the windows are drafty if you are looking at a home in the middle of a heat wave, so take this opportunity to see how a home holds up during the winter months. Are the builder-grade windows drafty? Does the heating system have zones, or will you be unnecessarily heating the entire home each time the thermostat turns the heat on? Are the streets well-plowed after snowstorms?
- #1: Take advantage of the holidays to enhance your home’s staging ~ During this time of the year, you have the opportunity to show buyers how warm and inviting your home can be. Before they walk through the front door, your sidewalk and walkways should be snow and ice-free (or, if you don’t have snow, pick up any remaining fall leaves). Put up some tasteful outdoor lights and holiday decorations. Put a holiday welcome mat outside the front door. Inside your home, open the blinds, play some Christmas music and put out a few decorations so that buyers can envision themselves building holiday memories with their own families and friends in the coming years.
- #2: Show buyers some of your home’s best summer features ~ When your home is on the market during the winter, it can be hard to communicate some of your favorite things about the home – whether it is your beautiful rose garden, the professionally-landscaped yard, or the outdoor entertaining space. Choose some summertime photos that highlight the best features of your home and put them in a photo album so that buyers can see beyond the sparse branches and the grey landscaping.
- #3: Start thinking about your next home ~ Some Sellers wait until their own home is under contract to start thinking about their next purchase, but now is the time to start getting your own finances in order so that you can hit the ground running once you have secured buyers for your own home (See Buyer Tip #2 above). At the very least, start looking at homes online (in the Denver area, you can get access to the live MLS at my website, www.SuburbanDenverProperties.com) to get a better feel for the price range and area that you want to buy your next home.
Michelle Walters is the Owner of Suburban Denver Properties, a residential real estate brokerage and investment firm. If you are looking to buy, sell, or invest in real estate you can find her at www.SuburbanDenverProperties.com.