While winter is not considered the traditional home selling season in most areas, Lake Tahoe’s seasons are what draw many buyers to the area. With recent snow and ski areas open from Christmas, retailers and lodging providers are gearing up for the busy holidays and winter weekend visitors. A new wave of interest in home buyer often occurs in winter months at Lake Tahoe, spurred by good snow conditions at the ski areas, for snowmobiling, winter festivals and family activities. These are a few of the reasons why listing a home in winter may offer Sellers a better opportunity for a strong sale.
Less Competition There aren’t as many listings now on the market to compete with on pricing. If a Seller waits until Spring to list, there will be more listings for Buyers to choose from. Some of these may be homes that were previously listed and withdrawn or the winter that may relist for a low price and drive pricing pressure. Nationwide, there is about 20% less inventory during the winter months and inventory around the Lake drops even further as so many Sellers have the misperception that Buyers are not looking in the winter. Most Sellers don’t put their homes on the market during the last or first couple of months of the year. So, as Buyer activity continues to be strong this winter, Sellers may be at an advantage selling when most others are waiting.
Serious Buyers A higher percentage of Buyers looking in Winter are serious about buying. The number of showings decreases in Winter, but sales do not decrease proportionately. Many Buyers who are looking in warmer months enjoy seeing homes, but do not end up buying.
Stronger Pricing A serious Buyer will boost pricing. With less competition, by marketing a home ahead of the spring listing season, a Seller may be able to secure a higher price. While the Buyer may have had thirty homes to compare and choose from in June on the Nevada side of the Lake, there may only be ten homes that fit their criteria in January. If they are motivated to buy, and Incline Village is their desired location, there is more leverage with pricing.
Tax Planning Some buyers may be eager to establish residency and need to move quickly to enjoy the majority of the year in Nevada and vesting their interests here. Tax incentives for Buyers can justify paying more for a home when they are up against the clock to make their move.
January is the Biggest Transfer Month More corporate moves happen during the month of January than at any other month of the year. Corporate transferees, who need to buy a house now, may not wait until spring.
Reinvestment Opportunities By selling a home during the winter, a Seller may have the opportunity of selecting from a larger inventory on the buy side, if they intend to acquire another property in the spring or summer. While Winter may be the best time to garner a higher price in the sale of a home, a Seller can turn around and take advantage of the more selection and pricing pressure to get a great deal a few months down the road.
Nuisance Showings With many Buyers “just looking” at homes and greater numbers of visitors in summer, numerous showings may just be lower level interest buyers. Showing the home is an inconvenience for Sellers and often warmer months bring showings on “short notice”. Sellers will endure many more showings in the Spring and Summer that don’t bring in any offers, which can become a burden if the home is occupied.
Search Technology Shorter days and bad weather may seem like two barriers inhibiting Buyers from wanting to see homes, but this rationale is not as relevant as it was in the past. According to the National Association of Realtors, nine out of ten home Buyers search for homes online at their workplaces, on their smart phones, and from the comfort of their homes after dark. Many Buyers come to Tahoe looking for ski homes, and others come to get away from crowds in places like the Bay Area. Winter is an ideal time to target these Buyers who may spend more time indoors, and searching online.
Anticipated Rise in Mortgage Rates Seasonal fluctuations and long term anticipation of rising rates offer good buying opportunities now. As the Federal Reserve retreats from its stimulus, mortgage rates won’t stay this low forever. There are a higher proportion of cash sales in the Tahoe area, but high net worth Buyers often use home equity for other investments and low borrowing rates make second home purchases very attractive.
Positive Press Driving Sales Although home prices have not returned to their pre-recession highs, pricing has climbed in the past couple of years and buyers seeking value may not want to wait much longer as inventory continues to decline, overall.
Marketing Advantage As there are fewer listings on the market in Winter, there are also fewer properties being advertised. Your listing will garner more exposure in media and print outlets, as fewer properties are taking up ad space.
National Data Supports Strong Winter Sales A nationwide survey done by industry professionals analyzed homes listed over the span of two years and found that those listed in winter have a 9 percentage point greater likelihood of selling, sell a week faster, and sell for 1.2 percentage points more relative to list price than homes listed in any other season.
Although a Seller may have specific reasons to wait until Spring to list, there can be many advantages not to put off the listing until the warmer months. Many buyers will understand that landscaping and lawns won’t be visible in winter, but snow covered grounds and Tahoe’s abundance of evergreens brighten up homes and offer some great photography opportunities for marketing. Many Sellers may see the advantage of targeting the winter Buyers, who bring a new opportunity in Tahoe’s prime season.
Content by Lexi Cerretti, Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty
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