Real Estate Winter Blues
As I watch the soft light snow fall this morning, I stop to enjoy the beauty and peace of the covered tree limbs and the smooth white blanket that graces the ground. The streets are quite and the snow adds a color (not vibrant) but still a stark difference from the leafless trees and brown bland ground we have been looking at these past few months.
I am quickly brought back to reality with a 6:00am phone call from an exceptionally chipper pre-school teacher indicating that school will be closed today. I guess I just lost all hopes of sleeping in this morning. It doesn’t take much longer before I hear the pitter patter of footsteps running down the hallway into my bedroom informing me that “it snowed”. I hesitantly get out of bed and realize this is going to be a very “long” day.
Snow, snow, snow, when did I stop liking the snow? I used to ski every weekend during the winter months. I would be making snow men, snow angels and sled tracks around the house before breakfast was on the table. I even enjoyed shoveling the front steps. What happened? When did it all change? Oh, I remember, when I became a Realtor.
The Northeast, specifically New Jersey is a state that enjoys all four seasons. Although, some seasons have been getting shorter and others longer, the fact that we have changes in temperatures during the year is one of the benefits of living in this part of the country.
However, selling real estate in New Jersey during the winter months can be a challenge. Let’s take the 800 pound gorilla in the room out of the equation – the current market conditions- and just focus on the difficulties sellers experience when their home is on the market during the unpredictable Northeast winter.
Appearance: Making a home in winter look inviting and pleasing to a buyer is not an easy task.
Exterior: There is nothing that makes a home feel like a home like brown grass, old matted down mulch, dead plants, covered pools and empty flower boxes.
Interior: How do you make a home look bright and full of light when there is a consistent grey tone in the sky? Opening the window shades/curtains doesn’t make the sun appear.
Extra Clutter: Where to hide the puffer jackets and snow boots cluttered around every doorway.
Open Houses: It is difficult to predict if an open house will be successful in the winter. If it is a chilly raw day most prospects will hesitate to venture out opting for a more pleasing day.
Safety Issues: I can’t forget to mention the obvious, slushy/icy, puddle filled driveways and walkways which can be a hazard to all prospective buyers and their shoes.
These are just a fraction of the many hurdles that present themselves to sellers and their agents during the winter selling market. As nature predicts, the “survival of the fittest” will make it through to the spring market. The Realtors who use innovative marketing tools that lie “outside the real estate box” will be prosperous. The typical 80-20 rule applies, 20% of realtors will overcome the winter real estate market low while the remaining 80% will feel the harsh winter cold.
While I continue to write this article and watch the snow pile up on my front steps, I wonder how many realtors are thinking about homeowners today.
As a Realtor, I understand the importance of a strong marketing campaign. With statistics showing that 90% of home buyers utilize the internet for their home search, (According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors) marketing is extremely important. However, I believe that tailoring a marketing program according to the season the home is either placed on the market or is active on the market is equally as crucial. Marketing programs need to be revisited and reinvented according to the change of seasons. We can’t deny in this market homes are on the market longer than we would like to see. Therefore, the average seller will have their home on the market through at least one change of season.
Marketing plans are multi-faceted. They include advertising, pricing, statistics, demographics and staging. Each dimension of the plan should be reevaluated with each changing season. Don’t we all participate in a little spring cleaning when winter is over? We put our puffer jackets, snow boots and sweaters away and bring out our short sleeves and sandals, sometimes too early. When summer is over and the pumpkins have replaced the flowers on the front steps, don’t we all participate in a little fall clean-up by removing the annuals, raking the leaves and covering up the lawn furniture? I believe reevaluating a marketing plan with the change of season is just as necessary.
Since the ground hog saw his shadow and 6 more weeks of winter are on the way, revisit your marketing plan with your realtor. Instead of dreading the winter real estate market, let your realtor tailor the marketing of your home to emphasize all the wonderful things about winter. So let’s all get out and love snow again.
If you are considering selling your home in the Bergen County area of Northern New Jersey and would like to discuss some of my “seasonal” marketing ideas on how to market your home no matter what the time of year, please contact me at email@example.com
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