Conventional wisdom says that winter is a bad time to market your home, but with fewer homes on the market there’s a good chance more buyers will be viewing yours.
“Sellers are likely to achieve sale prices closer to the listing prices, especially for properties that are well maintained. Ideally, the property should be in a good state of repair to make it immediately habitable,” says Sandy Geffen, executive director of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in South Africa.
Dawn Bloch, area specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Lakeside, Kirstenhof and Zwaanswyk says that winter is also a great time to buy. She explains that sellers believe spring and summer are the most popular times to look for a new home and often wait to list their properties then, so buyers may have fewer homes to choose from in winter, but could potentially get a better deal too.
“Homeowners who are selling in this season are often more willing to negotiate,” she says. “Most sellers will appreciate the fact that people willing to brave the winter weather to view their home are probably serious buyers, and their offer is worth considering.”
Three benefits of braving the cold
Less competition – House hunting can be advantageous for buyers willing to brave the cold weather. There will be fewer buyers searching and thus less offers.
Getting a clear picture of the home – When viewing a home in bad or gloomy weather it is easier to see if there are any leaks in the roof and if the plumbing, insulation and electrical systems all work properly.
The move costs less – Because it is a quiet period for removal companies they tend to offer discounts. You will most likely also enjoy more flexibility when it comes to choosing a moving date.
Seven tips for a fast sale
Geffen offers the following tips for sellers who want to get their homes ready for sale in winter.
- Make sure gutters are parallel to the roof edge and not sagging. Clear out leaves and branches and clean out any blockages in downpipes and make sure they are draining properly.
- Scan ceilings for damp marks that may indicate roof leaks. Above floor level, crystallisation and or mould on walls are signs of rising damp, which must be attended to.
- Wooden window frames should be regularly varnished, as rotting and split wood will be a source of leaks, and loose or creaky timber floors may be a sign of structural weakness.
- If you have a fireplace, stack it with wood and pine cones. A gas fireplace may also be a good investment.
- A fresh coat of paint and new carpets or flooring will add a new touch to any home and this cost should be factored into the sale price.
- Staging your home to show it at its absolute best is equally important in rain or shine, which is why your agent should be able to advise you on the proper approach to preparing their homes for show day.
- Finally, remember that less is usually more and it’s the little things that can make the most difference. Make sure wood is polished, your home is filled with elegant aromas rather than the smell of cat litter and always declutter before show day.
Geoffrey Jäck, managing director of waterproofing and construction company Indawo, says you can paint the interior and even the exterior of your home during the rainy or colder season.
“Besides the obvious, like not painting while it is actually raining, or starting to apply your first coat when it is clear rain will start falling in the next hour or two, keeping an eye on the weather patterns will provide sufficient breaks in the rainfall to allow you to apply the first, and subsequent coats,” explains Jäck adding that contractors may even offer discounts or reduced rates during the rainy season to keep their workforce busy.
Insider’s tip: Although the project may take a little longer to complete due to the longer periods required for coats to dry, there could be a financial benefit in commissioning painting work during winter.