Monday, November 30, 2009

12 Winter Home Selling Tips

Yes Virginia, people do buy homes during the Winter.  December - January may not be the highest selling season but there are still buyers out there if you know how to entice them to view your home.

Here are a few ways for-sale-by-owner sellers can capitalize on the season.

1.  Focus on no children families.  "In mid-winter there are fewer buyers with kids. The reason is simple; the children are in school." according to Bob Irwin, Best -selling FSBO author  "Most buyers with families wait until late spring and summer when the kids are out of school to move. That means that your most likely good buyer is either going to be a mature couple - empty nesters looking to downsize or move sideways - OR, first time buyers - young couples without families."   Target your marketing toward these buyers

2.  Keep your driveway clear.  In snowy regions a packed driveway will make your home feel locked in and un inviting.

3.  Make sure the thermostat is on high when buyers visit, now is not the time to save on gas when you are showing people your cozy house.

4.  Point out winterized features.  Do you have new thermal windows?  Is it easy to get in and out of your local street even in heavy snow?   Every home has some winter advantages, take a minute to change your online listing to reflect these.

5.  Use comforting words.  Toasty, Warm and Cozy all sound great when it's cold out and will comfort buyers that your home will be a haven for them year round

6.  Update your photo with a few fun holiday decorations.  Do you put lights on your house?  We don't recommend over doing it, but a few lights will liven up your primary photo of you home in the period between now and New Years.  Just remember to change the photo back after the holiday season.

7.  First time buyer help.  As we mentioned first time buyers often are young couples with no children and they are still looking mid winter.   Consider offering to carry a second seller financed mortgage if you are able to.  If this works for you don't be shy about pointing this out in your listing - it can be a real advantage over other options for new buyers.

8.  Create holiday cards featuring your house to post in local grocery stores, bulletin boards and around town.  Buyers will feel you are a friendly seller and be comfortable calling directly.

9.  Ignore low-ball offers.  The truth is during winter you can also get a lot of bottom fishing buyers - the type who are looking for a deal and will make a super low-ball offer.   In the past we have suggested you not ignore any offer, but treat these offers with a heavy grain of salt.  We suggest that you reply in a friendly manner that the offer is well outside your range and with them very good luck finding a home.  They might come back with a better offer or just move on.

10.  Keep the Christmas clutter and entry area mess to a minimum.   It is easy to leave coats, boots and scarves all around the entry area, but this still is the most important place for a first impression.   Keep it clear when showing a home so that it is easy to hang your buyers' coats up without blocking the view.  Same advice for holiday decorations; by all means decorate, but consider a few touches in specific areas.  This will leave most rooms open to your buyers imaginations.

11.  It sounds corny but be sure to offer buyers a warm drink of cider and a treat.  It breaks the ice and gives you a good chance to describe your home. Then be sure to leave them on their own to wander around with their mug in hand.  They will feel more at home right away

12.  Finally don't panic.  This is an unusual year for sales and with spring just around the corner your buyers could be coming your way sooner than you think.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Home Sales Continue to Rise

Home sales hit a 2 1/2 year high based on October's housing numbers according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).     Home sales produced a 10.1% month over month gain last month driven by the expiring federal tax credit for first time buyers as well as historically low interest rates.

The paragraph in this story on that caught our eye was from NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun  "Home prices are almost there. We are seeing less of a decline in house values,"  He said the Realtors group expected strong sales for November, related to the federal tax credit.

Prices continued to be affected by foreclosures which typically sell for 15% - 20% below other homes as well as a surge in first time buyers buying at the low end of the market taking advantage of the Federal tax credit.

Full article at

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Internet listings... "vital" to real-estate sales, says the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission once again has shown how important a low cost MLS listing is for consumers with their recent decision on November 2nd.

Internet listings have become "vital" to real-estate sales, the FTC said maintaining their long-term position that consumers must have access to the MLS to be able to sell efficiently. Over the last 18 months the FTC has supported the rights of home sellers to be able to list their homes on the MLS using discount listing services such as and not pay full-service brokerage commissions. 

In a case regarding the Detroit area MLS Realcomp II, the largest real-estate listing group in Michigan, the FTC's opinion stated that the group had violated federal law by restricting some discount real-estate listings from its own and other publicly available websites.  

"Given the market structure and competitive dynamics of the residential real estate industry, we find that Realcomp's policies harmed competition and created a likelihood that valuable rivalry among real estate service providers would be suppressed", Commissioner William Kovacic wrote in the opinion.

Because 90% of homes for sale are listed on the MLS we firmly believe at that it is critical for consumers to have access to listings without having to pay a full 3% selling agent's commission. The fact that the US Federal Government agrees with us feels pretty good about helping our customers and home sellers nationwide!

More about the FTC and the MLS
Full Opinion FTC vs Realcomp II
FTC says Consumers save thousands using a Flat Fee MLS Listing
More about the MLS on