Helping sellers with their January listings

December 10, 2018

When people are looking to sell a home at this time of year, they might have certain trepidations. Fortunately, agents can do more to make sure their listings stand out and garner interest, even in a season when activity slows down.

Experienced real estate professionals know the good news to reassure selling clients about first and foremost in the winter months: There just aren't a lot of homes being put up for sale. According to U.S. News and World Report, there are a lot of benefits to selling just after the calendar flips to a new year, not the least of which is that buyers are also getting a little more scarce in the market.

That may sound like a negative to would-be sellers - fewer buyers necessarily means fewer bids, at least in theory - but in actual practice, it means both sides of a potential traction are motivated to make the real estate sales process not only happen, but progress quickly.

What needs to be done?
Of course, even if people are motivated to buy, homes don't sell themselves, so owners and agents need to work together to make it as attractive as possible. For one thing, it's vital to boost curb appeal on the home - clearing the front lawn of debris even if you can't do much about the lawn - and also make sure the online listings for the home show it during warmer months so would-be buyers can picture themselves living in it year-round.

And when hosting an open house, agents should also work with owners to make sure every room is nice and bright, the house is warm throughout, and there are plenty of candles scented with the traditional smells of the winter season - such as evergreen, fresh-baked cookies or gingerbread - burning in every room.

Weed out the maybes
The simple fact is that if agents and owners work hard on an open house at this time of year, it's far more likely to result in a quick sale, according to the National Association of Realtors. Again, the people shopping and selling throughout the winter are equally likely to be quite serious about getting a deal done at a price that works for all involved. Agents should impress upon owners that these conditions, therefore, might even be preferable to what might come along in the spring.

"When I have buyers looking for homes in January and February, they're real buyers looking to make a purchase - especially if it's a great house," Jennifer Baldinger, a licensed associate real estate broker based in Scarsdale, New York, told the NAR. "They don't want to take the chance of waiting until spring and losing out on the home. There may be less people at these open houses, but I would rather have 10 real buyers come through than 20 people who are just curious."

The more agents can do to sell owners on the idea that now is still a great time to put their homes on the market, the better those clients are likely to feel about the process and, by extension, the agent who helps them through it.