Should you sell your home in winter?

For some vendors, the thought of selling in winter gives them the chills. But there is actually very little concrete proof that winter yields either lower prices or longer sale times.

While traditionalists say spring is the best time to sell and there are usually many more buyers around, this is also when there are the most listings on the market, increasing your competition with other properties. In winter, there are fewer buyers but also fewer listings to compete against, which can sometimes drive up competition amongst buyers and lift prices.

The graph* below shows the variation in the number of listings versus sales throughout the year. While listing numbers in spring are dramatically higher than those in winter, the number of sales are well below the number of listings during this time. This isn’t the case in winter, when sales numbers are much closer to the number of listings.

Winter can even be a time when buyers are particularly motivated. They may have a more pressing need to buy – for example, they may have already sold their previous home – instead of just ‘vaguely looking’ like many a spring browser.

Despite all this, the season doesn’t need to have a huge bearing on your decision about when to sell – there are generally much more important considerations to take into account. What the market is doing – that is, supply and demand – should be a bigger concern. If it’s a buyers’ market, regardless of the season it’s probably not an ideal time to sell. Conversely, a sellers’ market will generally see you do well any time of the year.

Of course, you also need to take into account your own reasons for selling. If the time is right for you and your family – for example, if you dislike where you live, need more space (or less), are going through a divorce, or need the cash – selling immediately may be the best solution for you in the long run regardless of the time of year. If it happens to be winter, you shouldn’t feel constrained by this – particularly since in many parts of Australia, winter doesn’t mean bad – or even very cold – weather at all.

If you aren’t in a rush to sell, you may want to take into account the location of your property in regards to the season. For example, if it’s a beachside home, your spring garden is amazing, you have deciduous trees that come to life in autumn, or you live in a snowy winter wonderland, then it can be beneficial to wait for the season when your home presents itself in the best light.

Whenever you sell, you can always present your property to make the most of the season it happens to be.

Top tips for selling in winter:

  • Think about the benefits of your property during the colder months and show them off during open inspections. Do you have underfloor heating, an open fireplace, a gas fire or outdoor fire pit? Clean and stock fireplaces and keep them lit during inspections.
  • Use thoughtful design and decorations to enhance the winter vibe, such as heavier fabrics on beds, throw rugs on chairs and couches, warm-coloured rugs and mats on the floor. The use of darker colours when decorating can add to the cosiness.
  • Make the inspection memorable by baking. It warms the kitchen, creates a delicious scent and you can leave tasty treats out for would-be buyers.
  • If the weather is particularly cold or rainy, create a useful spot to stow umbrellas, coats and even shoes. This has the added bonus of keeping mud out of your clean house!
  • While gardens typically don’t look their best in winter, make the outside look appealing by bringing out the outdoor table setting, cleaning pool areas, and removing weeds and leaf debris. You want would-be buyers to be able to imagine a summer’s day outside.
  • Choose an inspection time that makes the most of the available sunlight, depending on which way your home faces.
  • Give the house plenty of fresh air during the day so it doesn’t smell musty, but ensure the air is warm inside by the time the inspection is due to start.

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