Anytime you sell your home, it’s stressful. It’s doubly stressful in the cold winter months as grass is damp, trees are empty and there is less daylight to showcase your most prized possession.
For some folks, listing a home in the spring or summer is not an option and winter selling is a must. Therefore putting a little more effort and thought into the home selling process is an obligation.
We spoke with four local realtors in East Contra Costa County to provide advice this holiday season for those of you who are selling your home or looking to purchase. In this economy and this time of year, it’s not as fast of a process as some may think.
According to Aaron Meadows, Aaron Meadows Property Management, he states that the inventory seems like its sitting longer in the winter months. He also shared Brentwoods inventory is higher than it’s been in a while Oakley has remained about the same.
“It’s concerning a little bit right now, but we are still in a historically low inventory period but if the trends continue it will make me more concerned,” said Meadows. ”Wintertime historically is the slowest time of the year for transactions. When I am talking people looking to sell, I am honest and tell them that December is the slowest time of the year while July and August is best time for selling and renting.”
Cathy Daniel, Ridgewater Real Estate Services, explained while the wintertime is traditionally slower, there are many advantages. She believes anytime you are ready to sell your home is the right time.
“One of the advantages of selling at the end of the year is that there are many investors out there looking to consummate a deal before the drop of the ball on December 31,” explained Daniel. “That means that offers may be much more aggressive and geared toward giving a seller what they want, and less time will be spent on haggling over the minutest of details.”
She further explained that little repairs that may hold up a sale is waived to speed up the process. Also, investors are willing to let the seller rent back after close of escrow so you are not forced to rush out of your home for the holiday season.
“If you are not fortunate enough to have an investor want your home as their next big purchase, then you will probably find someone who wants your home to be theirs before the holidays. They are buying because they envision the holidays at their own table, in their own dining room with Grandmas finest tablecloth underneath the turkey,” says Daniels.
Regardless of the theory in selling a home, it always starts with finding the right realtor for you.
Monica Malcuit, owner of Signature Partners Realty, suggests interviewing multiple agents until you are comfortable. She recommends selecting a realtor who is well connected and actively involved in the real estate community.
“The home buying process is complex so working with the right professional is crucial,” says Malcuit. “You have to do your homework on agents and the real estate market”.
Meadows, agrees and also suggest interviewing multiple agents and find one that best fits your personality.
“You have to work with someone that you can build rapport with. You need to be comfortable with whom you are working with, both he agent and client needs to work together in building rapport. It doesn’t hurt to interview multiple agents to find the best fit,” says Meadows.
Once you select your desired agent, and then comes the hard part of trying to sell your home in the winter.
Jill Fister, Coldwell Banker Guidance Realty, suggest you begin with improving your curb appeal because that is what gets buyers into the home. Such things as bare trees can expose more of the exterior paint so make sure to touch up weathered paint and clean gutters.
“Give house hunters a place to escape from the biting cold by making your home feel cozy and by having it warm with a crackling fire in the fireplace,” says Fister.
Fister believes when you encourage buyers to spend more time in your home, you give them more time to fall in love with it. She also recommends when decorating for the holidays don’t go overboard. She says decorations too large or too many can crowd your home and distract buyers from true amenities your home has to offer.
Since you are in the holiday season, its suggested that you limit the amount of holiday decor which may create distractions from your home.
“You want to show them more of a model home than one you live in. Historically, you want to take personalized effects out of the house such as family pictures and want people to imagine them living there, not your family. Religious items should also be a concern. It is okay to decorate, but just don’t go overboard. Less is more,” says Meadows.
Daniel suggests that sometimes decorations do work in you favor, but do so within means of reason. In fact, Daniel stated that she and her husband have sold their own home twice which occurred during Christmas time.
“The buyers told me that they had to have my house after they saw all the glittery lights, smelled the cookies in the air, heard the Christmas carols and noticed the stockings hanging on the fireplace. So in effect what I did was sell them the dream of what could be,” said Daniel. “I still made sure the house was immaculate which almost killed me with two active boys and a husband who travels all the time.”
Which brings up the next piece of advice which is regardless of the time of year, one must ensure their house is clean each day it’s on the market. It’s suggested that you clean your windows, no dishes in the sink, cloths are put away, pet hair is swept up, and your home does not smell like fish or any other odor that can act as a deterrent. Remember, people buy with all of their senses.
For all the challenges presented during those winter months, Fister advises sellers to remember that there are advantages to the season as well.
“I happen to think there are actually advantages to the season, taking advantage of a lull in competition. Perhaps one difficult part is weather and that people are focused on the holidays. It’s a great time actually, as competition is lower,” explained Fister. “Pricing your home competitively will bring more traffic and opportunity for someone to fall in love with your house WHICH WILL equal more offers and opportunity to counter those offers.”
Fister advice to you is to ensure your agent gives you realistic comparable sales and is straight up about value. If your home is too high, you will see other homes sell before yours.
“Beware of agents who flatter with value to win the listing job,” says Fister.
According to multiple agents that we spoke with, they advise those completing a short sale before the end of the year would be wise with the Federal Mortgage Tax Debt Relief Act may be expiring where forgiveness amounts may soon be counted as income and taxed accordingly if this is not extended by Congress. It is currently in place until end of 2013.
When selling your home, there is always no replacement for doing your own homework, but we encourage you to find a real estate professional who will help guide you through the process and one that will protect you from the pitfalls of a real estate transaction.
“No matter what the season is, she thinks, buying a home can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster so buckle up and be prepared to go with the flow,” says Malcuit.
*Date was provided on Oct. 23, 2013
Aaron Meadows Property Management
Cathy Daniel, Ridgewater Real Estate Services
Jill Fister, Coldwell Banker Guidance Realty
Monica Malcuit, Signature Partners Realty
By Michael Burkholder
Tami Wannamaker contributed to this story
What the chart is showing me is Antioch is the real bargain in East County? I’d love to see their advice on how to sell a home that is around Section 8 and high crime.
Yes, Antioch is one of the bargains in the East County area, but bargain is relative to what you can afford.
I believe ANY home can be sold. Unfortunately when it comes to TRUE “high crime” areas price will be the only motivating factor. I (as an agent) would contact various groups and charities and see if they are interested in the area, or even….gulp…..the dreaded investor! My fiduciary bond is always to my client. That being said, my client is ALSO the City and the Community I serve so I would do my best to bring in the best buyer for the area. I never ever want to create blight.
As for section 8, I can tell you FROM EXPERIENCE that not all section 8 renters are bad. I have a section 8 house just down the street from my house, and another just around the corner. No problems. Section 8 is a wonderful program for some people (my Grandmother for example) but unfortunately is TERRIBLY abused.
I hear the anger and pain in your question, and I completely understand! I’m from Detroit, I get it. There are ways to change ANY situation. One neighborhood in Brentwood banded together and bought video cameras and posted them throughout the neighborhood to a 4TB hard drive. When they did that they posted BIG signs everywhere, guess what? No more shenanigans. Is it the perfect solution? No. But it’s better than nothing.
If I can be of any assistance in helping you find a way to move on, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for the detailed information. What most people don’t want to admit is, that it isn’t the city necessarily that is driving Section 8 rentals.
It is the landlord/homeowner. If the landlords don’t want to use the Sect. 8 program, they don’t have to. No one holding a gun to their heads.
Landlords cannot discriminate, however The law does not require any owner to participate in the Section 8 program.
Let me state it again; The law does NOT require any owner to participate in the Section 8 program.
If you don’t like Sect. 8 in your neighborhood, don’t blame the city, blame the owner of the property!
Yes, selling a home in the period of winter is stressful, but I want to tell buyers that this is actually a perfect time to buy. In this period you can see walk through the home you want to buy and can easily identify how efficiently the house is shielding itself from the season and snowfall which you can’t identify at the time when the climate is good or on a sunny day.
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