There is a lot of advice that home sellers get when they’re starting to think about putting their property on the market, but not all of it is worth following. We often hear from sellers in the fall and winter months who are eager to get their home listed, but have been told to wait until the market picks up again in the spring.
It’s common enough advice, but we encourage our sellers not to listen to it. For as it turns out, there are actually a few big advantages to listing your home in the off season. Here are four of them:
Less competition in the marketplace
The off season, particularly in the fall and early winter months, is when the lowest amount of inventory enters the housing market. There are typically less buyers competing for homes during this time of the year as the days grow shorter and colder, but fewer buyers doesn’t mean zero buyers, and listing your home in the off-season means less competition compared to the rest of the year.
People need to buy houses all year round, though heavy buying cycles tend to coincide with academic calendars. Considering that those off-season buyers are out there, wouldn’t you rather compete with a fewer number of new listings?
Buyers are less stressed
If you’re selling a house, that likely means that you have also been a buyer at some point, and you’re probably familiar with the high levels of stress associated with the role. Buying a home can be an overwhelming process, even in the best of conditions. However, during peak season, buyers often have to deal with heavy competition for prime properties, the hustle and bustle of crowded open houses, and the relentless fast-pace of a market dictating that if you don’t act on a property now somebody else is going to snag it first.
Certainly a crowded buyer market is great for sellers, but in the low pressure off market season, buyers are calmer and more comfortable. The general environment is a little kinder, and while buyers are no less motivated to purchase their ideal property, they’re not contending with the chaos that’s typical of the spring & summer months.
During the summer months, many homes are occupied by vacation tenants, which can make it difficult to schedule viewings around the buyer’s schedule. In the off-season, properties are typically vacant, meaning that buyers have significantly more flexibility in coming to see the home and sellers have less worry over having to clean, stage, and/or rearrange existing furniture and décor.
Depending on your personal financial situation, selling your home at the end of the year or early in the calendar can lead to some potential tax advantages.
Property taxes are pro-rated, meaning that even if you sell your home during a specific calendar year you are still going to pay taxes on the portion of the year that you owned it. Buyers take over the taxes on a property starting on the date of sale, so if one of your goals in selling your home is to lower your overall property tax rate or to avoid an upcoming property tax increase, you’re better off doing it in the off season, when the date of sale will be close to the beginning of the year.
The one thing that always matters
The best thing you can do as a seller, whether listing your home in the off season or in the peak of market chaos, is to work with a knowledgeable agent that is as dedicated to getting your home sold as you are. For the right agent, the time of year that you list your property isn’t going to matter. Motivated buyers are out there twelve months a year, and an experienced agent will help you connect with the right one and get that sale made by the time you’re ready to hang up your winter coat.