Seasoned (pun intended) real estate professionals understand that the winter months can be difficult to negotiate (no pun intended) for those in the business of buying, selling, and building homes. The weather in most of the USA is inhospitable, and can put many projects and plans on hold, until the springtime market kicks in and buyers again resume their house-hunting activities. But those who plan for the winter slowdown actually view the cyclical time-out as an opportunity, and sometimes even look forward to it after a hectic year.

Many of us take time out each April or May for a deep cleaning and reorganization of our living space. Similarly, the months of December, January, and February provide a scheduled chance to catch up on errands and strategies related to real estate – and to get a jump on the next year’s market – whether you are buying or selling.

Here are tips on how to make the most of a cooled-off real estate season:

For Sellers

If you are selling, take advantage of the wintertime – especially during the holidays and the post-holiday doldrums – to prepare your house for showcasing it to potential buyers.

  • Clean out the clutter and make your house look more spacious. By simply emptying closets and clearing out furniture – leaving only the minimal essentials to provide a sense of warmth and style – you can boost the perceived value of your property immensely.
  • Freshen up the interior. When it is freezing cold outside you can’t paint the exterior but you can stay indoors and put a new coat of paint on any rooms that need it. Fix the dripping faucets and squeaky doors; refinish the floors, and do other indoor home improvement projects. Most contractors have less business in the wintertime, so it is a good time to hire them. By the time spring rolls around, they won’t even be answering the phone because they will be “off the hook” busy with outdoor construction projects.
  • Get your paperwork in order. Make a file that includes your annual utility bill history, copies of warranties on appliances, and MLS data on your home. Put these things together in an attractive folder and your Realtor can share it with potential buyers. If you need a survey, get it done.
  • Take time to relax. Selling a home in a buyer’s market is sometimes a stressful experience. Instead of worrying that there are no “lookers” during winter, take time for yourself and catch up on reading, yoga classes, or spending time with friends and family. You’ll be rejuvenated and ready to hit the ground running when the ice thaws.

For Buyers

During the wintertime, most property languishes on the market and motivated sellers are more inclined to offer discounts. They are paying stiff heating bills, taxes, and maintenance fees, but may not have many offers for purchase. If you are seriously shopping for property, make offers in the winter and you may have a new home in time for spring planting of flower beds and window boxes.

  • If you have not done so, meet with lenders and get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. When you approach sellers with financial backing in hand, they will be more inclined to accept your offers.
  • Get your finances in order. This is a good time to deal with any budgetary issues that are affecting your down payment. If you haven’t decided on what type of loan is best for you, winter is a great time to sit down and do the homework needed to make your important decisions.
  • Compare and contrast. Have your Realtor provide you with market data so that you can compare prices, options, and locations. You may want to build a new home, or perhaps rehab an existing one. Research helps make this kind of decision easier and wiser, so use the winter to examine your alternatives.
  • Shop ‘til you drop during the holidays, but not at the mall – get out and look at houses with your Realtor.

Interest rates remain super attractive. The best plan is to use the winter months to do whatever is necessary to tip the market in your own favor, by planning ahead. Then, no matter what 2020 presents, you’ll be in the best possible position to take advantage of it. To find a qualified real estate agent, visit www.GayRealEstate.com. The company offers a depth of experience in buying homes throughout the entire USA, and specializes in serving the GLBT community.