Typically winter is seen as the worst time of the year to sell your home - especially if that home is anywhere in the Northeast. Sellers believe the holidays will get in the way, buyers don't like the cold, and open houses can be ruined in a blink by a snowstorm. But while the temperatures are continuing to drop this December, the local real estate market remains red hot, offering a unique opportunity for homeowners looking to cash in and sell.
This year has been one of multiple offers and over asking bids. Due to the abundance of transaction activity earlier in 2013, we're seeing buyers who began looking in the spring still without a new home. These buyers are ready to pounce on a property if they can just find one that meets their needs. The combination of dwindling inventory and eager buyers has created an interesting environment for sellers as there is a large pool of buyers who are ready to buy now and less inventory than any other time of the year. In its simplest terms supply is heading to a yearly low and demand is still very high.
What this scenario creates is an ability for sellers to capture the attention of a larger percentage of active buyers with their new listing and stand out in a way that simply isn't going to be possible in the spring. The buyer pool that is still looking for a new home today has, for the most part, been conditioned to come in strong and fast with offers when they see a home they like and are also more likely to overlook small imperfections.
It's Cold Out! How Can I Close Deals Faster?
We real estate agents see it all -- from unmade beds to overstuffed garages to the "what-were-they-thinking-of?!" decor.
Over the years, we've learned why some houses sell while others linger and linger on the market, and why some promising buyers never make it to the closing table. They know how to get a better deal on the mortgage, and how much the other agents stand to make on your home.
The good news is, they want to share. The information is useful whether you're a buyer, a seller or both.
In today's market, sellers are again optimistic about the value and price of their homes -- but buyers aren't. Your challenge as a seller is to price the house so that it is compelling and competitive. What exactly does that mean?
Generally, if you set a price slightly below market value - even just a minuscule fraction - it will make all the difference. For instance: If similar homes in your neighborhood are priced around $210,000, price yours at $200,000 or $198,000. That shows your willingness to sell (not at a loss, but at a healthy profit).
Always remember, the longer a house is on the market, the less likely you are to get fair value. So you'll really want to position yourself to be the one that sells, not the one that ends up bopping around.
For many potential buyers, frugality ends the minute they get pre-approved for a mortgage. That's when they start running up the cards and opening new lines of credit to buy things for their home-to-be. But that pre-approval letter is just one of the first steps in the home buying marathon, not the finish line.
Just before closing, a lender will re-examine a prospective buyer's financial situation -- complete with a recent copy of the credit history and other updated information. If those numbers have changed for the worse (salary decrease, higher card balances, new lines of credit), then the applicant could get clocked with a higher interest rate or even lose the loan. The number of buyers who get denied is significant relative to the ones who've gotten a pre-approval line of credit.
So, what's the moral of the story? Never get new loans or start using credit cards more heavily until after you've actually closed on the home. Even better, retain your frugality until you've been in the home for a few months and have a good sense of how homeownership affects your finances.
If you're selling a home, it's important to understand the timeline. Underestimating the time it takes -- and building a schedule around those unrealistic expectations -- adds stress.
For those curious, here's a quick breakdown of the process:
Getting your home in shape: two weeks
Average time on the market (varies widely with location and price): 2 1/2 to three months
Negotiating after an ?offer: one week
Preparing to close (assuming a traditional transaction): 30 to 45 days
A smart seller allows a ?minimum of four to six months to sell.
If you'd like to discuss selling your home before the spring, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and number, and we will get back to you with a plan to get your home sold for the most money possible and in the fastest time this winter.