Recently I was emailing back and forth with a prospective buyer who, like most people, needs to sell her home first before making a future purchase.
She was excited to see a new bank-owned property on the market but disappointed to learn that the bank has no incentive to accept a home sale contingency. Being that her house is not even on the market currently makes this scenario moot however she was disappointed that she did not put her house on the market in the Spring in the hopes that she would be an actual buyer for current Fall inventory. Her mentality begs the question ... can you list and sell your home in the Fall or Winter with success?
While the traditional rule of thumb in Chicagoland Real Estate has been the market heats up post-Super Bowl and it's wise to put your home on the market when the weather improves, this mentality has become a myth to some degree. The market, during its trying years, has become less calendar-dependent due to seller and buyer circumstance.
Instead of dimissing the idea of putting your home on the market when the weather turns bad, consider the following factors:
1) If you list later in the year, there should be less competition in your neighborhood and price range
Many sellers who have been on the market throughout the year and do not sell may become frustrated by Thanksgiving and may consider pulling their house off the market through the holidays with the idea they will come back on the market at some point in 2012. Consider this - in 2010, the amount of homes for sale in Naperville (both single family and attached housing) were 25% higher in the second quarter versus the fourth quarter of the year while there were still sales to be had during the fourth quarter (269 homes under contract, to be exact). Similar statistics ring true for 2009 as well. While it's true there are less homes going under contract during the Fall and Winter versus the Spring and Summer, it is also true that there are less homes for prospective buyers to choose from, hence seller opportunity.
2) Buyers who are viewing homes when the weather stinks must be serious, right?
While it's safe to assume that foot traffic at a Winter open house should be less than during a temperate Spring day, the same may not be true for serious buyers gracing your door during the same months. Corporations are still relocating their clients to and from the Naperville area and their motivations are not exclusively based on time of year. If an employee is being relocating from Texas to Chicagoland in November via Navistar, for example, they are going to need a home ASAP. Perhaps that frustrated seller who has had their home on the market for most of the year happens to have the perfect condo for the relocating Navistar employee. Perhaps that same seller is now a move-up buyer and your single family home offers them a great opportunity. I see this type of scenario happen every Fall and Winter.
3) Mortgage rates remain impressive
There are a lot of people who are renting right now who are considering becoming first time homebuyers and want to strike while mortgage rates remain impossibly low. While it sounds like a broken record, it's unlikely these rates are always going to stay so low which is a motivating factor for buyers of all styles of homes and price points.
If you, as a seller, are motivated to sell your home because you would like to downsize or move up, I would encourage you to consider the idea of putting your home on the market during the mythical "off" season. Sure, your professional landscaping is going to be replaced by the occasional snow bank or clump of leaves but if your home is presented and priced right you may be rewarded by attracting a ready and willing buyer.