Property experts believe that prospective buyers looking to purchase a home in winter are often more motivated to do so when compared with the Sunday afternoon Show House browsers of spring and summer. Moreover, because spring and summer are popular selling seasons the housing market is saturated with competition – selling in winter places the seller in a favourable position with fewer competing listings. The quieter market may also result in financial institutions processing loan agreements quicker and a faster turnaround time for lodgment and registration of the property at the Deeds Office.
However, the property’s purchase price should still be fair and competitive, in relation to properties of similar specs in the surrounding neighbourhood. Condition, age and location, among other factors, play a key role in determining a property’s market value. A reputable estate agent specialising in property sales has the market knowledge and experience to competently advise a seller on comparative sales, as well as to provide an accurate price valuation in relation to similar properties in the area.
Selling in winter also provides the seller with the unique opportunity to showcase how their home is equipped for the cold – a major drawcard for potential buyers. Does the home have underfloor heating or built-in heating panels? Is there a fireplace crackling merrily in the formal lounge? Are the bedrooms and living areas North- or South-facing, making the most of the warm winter sunlight? Do high-traffic areas boast wooden or laminate flooring that add a sense of warmth?
Selling a home in winter entails selling an experience – something the buyer can connect with personally. The seller should plan and prepare the home in such a way that potential buyers are able to affectively relate to it as their own. Maintaining a warm, inviting atmosphere is as simple as lighting the fireplace or switching the heaters on. The seller may then draw buyers’ attention to these features as they walk from room to room, increasing the home’s appeal.
However, selling in winter does present its own challenges. With a little forward-thinking and adequate preparation, these challenges are easily overcome.
Many apartments and smaller free-standing homes do not boast amenities such as a fireplace or underfloor heating. Urban living spaces often feature tiles or concrete flooring, and these are known to feel colder in winter. In this case, the emphasis should be on comfort. Invest in plush carpets and throws that draw buyers’ attention to the home’s warmth and homeliness. Invite the buyer to imagine the home as their own - a place where they can feel at home - by paying attention to details.
With the sun rising later and setting earlier, the colder months may make a home feel darker. Avoid this pitfall by ensuring that curtains are opened in each room and drawn back to make the most of the available light. Switch on interior lights in every room during viewings and wherever possible, organise viewings during the daytime. If evening viewings are unavoidable, ensure the exterior is well-lit and that the buyers have access to the property listing on the website or a Show Day pamphlet that showcases professional photographs of the property during the daytime.
First impressions are often the most lasting, and the general exterior appearance of the property should be one that attracts offers. Lower rainfall in winter often results in gardens and exteriors looking tired and dry. Regular watering in the early morning or late evening for as little as ten minutes may alleviate the issue. Alternatively, plant evergreen shrubs that bloom in cold weather, water-wise succulents, deciduous trees that won’t lose their leaves or winter-flowering azaleas, daisies, roses or tulips. These will brighten even the most drab garden. More importantly, rake and dispose of autumn leaves before the Show Day or viewing – this will do wonders for the aesthetic appeal of the garden. Leaves left unattended tend to make a moderately green lawn appear dry and lifeless.
Finally, ensure that regular preventative maintenance is completed well before prospective buyers view. In any market, but even more so in a challenging one, the condition of the property is crucial. The overall condition plays a key role in determining market value, which provides a platform for the buyer and seller to negotiate a transaction. Moreover, care should be taken to prepare the property for a sale. For example, clearing gutters, drainpipes and swimming pools of fallen leaves, repairing wall cracks professionally and repainting if necessary, decluttering interior counter tops and tidying surfaces. The appeal and showing condition of the home are critical to a successful sale.