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Ask Eli: Should You List/Sell Before the Winter?

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Our family is increasing by one soon and we’re targeting the next six months to purchase a larger home and sell our current home. Is there any truth to the winter being a bad time to sell?

Answer: If you’re planning to sell your home in the next six months, the statistics in Arlington strongly support selling your home before Thanksgiving, but all is not lost if you miss the fall season and need to list during the winter.

Stats Indicate Weaker Winter Sales

From December – February, Arlington home sale trends include lower median sold price, fewer pending contracts, higher discounts from list price, and higher days on market. All clear indicators that home owners considering selling their home soon should push for a fall sale. Take a look at the Arlington trends over the last three years:

Median sold price:

Ask Eli Chart 1 Aug 16 2016

New contracts:

Ask Eli Chart 2 Aug 16 2016

Discount from list price:

Ask Eli Chart 3 Aug 16 2016

Days on market:

Ask Eli Chart 4 Aug 16 2016

Does It Apply To Everybody?

If you have a great view or valuable outdoor space, you’ll almost certainly take a hit by listing in the winter, but if you’re like nearly half of Arlington home owners who live in a condo with little or no outdoor space or view, the effects of a winter sale won’t be nearly as harmful.

Do you have a unique home that appeals to a small number of buyers? Unique homes require maximum exposure to the most number of buyers and with fewer active buyers in the winter, it can be much more difficult to sell a unique home than one with mass appeal.

If You Have To Sell In The Winter

Not everybody has the luxury of timing their sale, so if you’re planning to sell in the winter, here are some tips and stats that work in your favor:

  • Take your (professional) exterior pictures between now and when the leaves turn. It’s very hard for buyers to visualize how beautiful your yard or view can be during the cold, dark winter months so make it easy on them. A picture is worth a thousand words and thousands of dollars!  Don’t forget to landscape first.
  • In the winter, housing supply drops more than demand. The housing demand drops in the winter because there are fewer active buyers, that’s why sales numbers are weaker. However, the supply of homes drops even more, so the supply/demand works out in favor of the seller. See the below chart showing the trend in months of supply (lower months of supply is better for sellers):

Ask Eli Chart 5 Aug 16 2016

  • Active buyers in the winter are dedicated buyers. You’re not going to find many looky-loos when it’s 25 degrees out. Take advantage of fewer competing listing by introducing a strong marketing campaign that attracts the pool of committed buyers or even gets a few “spring buyers” off the bench early and into your home.

Selling your home can seem like a daunting task, but selling in the right market can make all the difference. Feel free to give me a call if you’re considering selling your home and want to discuss what it will take to get it ready in time to hit the fall market.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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