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Listing Your Home During the Winter

Posted October 10, 2012 in Advice Column, Clive

A common real estate misconception is that winter is a terrible time to try to sell a home. The myth goes something like this: There are virtually no buyers once the first snow hits the ground. After all, who wants to move in the cold, during the school year or during the holidays? Makes no sense, right?

The reality is actually more complex.

First, there are always buyers looking for a quality home, regardless of the time of year. Granted, fewer buyers are out looking during the winter for many of the reasons stated above. Nonetheless, job changes still occur requiring people to move, the school year isn’t a deciding factor for all buyers (not everyone has school-aged children), and simply put — “life happens” to push people out into the market who either want or need to buy a home.

Second, and equally important, the amount of listing competition is greatly reduced during the winter months, meaning buyers have far fewer options. As a result, a quality, well-priced home in market ready condition can easily stand out.

In years past, the Des Moines market has typically averaged around 5000 listings at any point in time. During the winter months this average often declines to around 4m000, which equates to a roughly 20 to 25 percent reduction in competition. And many of those homes have already been on the market for a long period of time due to overpricing, poor condition, or both.

Additionally, the pace of sales (the percent of homes that sell) does not reduce drastically during the winter.

In the month of December, for example, the sales pace for the last three years has been 12 percent, 10 percent and 9 percent. This compares quite favorably to the overall years’ sales pace of 11 percent, 11 percent and 12 percent. So again, while the absolute number of sales is down in December, the percentage of homes that sell is not significantly reduced.

The 2012 home inventory has been down compared to past years as we’ve hovered around the 3,500 to 4,000 mark. If we remain consistent with previous years, I would anticipate somewhere in the range of about 3,000 total listings this winter; meaning the amount of homes to choose from in any single location and in a specific price range should be limited compared to past years.

The savvy seller can leverage this opportunity to outshine the competition, capture interested buyers, and sell at a fair market price — even during the challenging winter months.

Information provided by Ted Weaver, ReMax Real Estate Group, 271-8281,

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