Why This Winter's 'Slow' Home-Selling Season May Be Hotter Than Ever
Winter is traditionally real estate's slow season. Between the cold weather and the holidays, the housing market typically plunges into a hibernation of sorts, with both buyers and sellers shelving any major real estate moves until spring.
This winter's real estate market, however, is shaping up to be unlike any other before it—and, contrary to what some may have feared, is slated to be an excellent time to sell a home. In fact, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, predicts “it will be one of the best winter sales years ever.”
Why? Chalk it up to a perfect storm of low mortgage interest rates, sparse housing inventory, plus a pandemic that's fundamentally changed how, when, and where buyers are shopping for homes.
So if you've assumed you should put your home-selling plans on hold until spring, read on for a surprising reality check on all the reasons this winter could be a great time to put your house on the market.
Pandemic lockdowns have created pent-up buyer demand
While spring is typically real estate's busy season, the "silent spring" of 2020 saw the housing market grind to a near halt amid pandemic-mandated lockdowns. This, in turn, created pent-up demand to purchase property that is only now being unleashed.
“We currently see buyers sticking around in the housing market much later than we usually do this fall,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com®. “If that trend continues, we will see more buyers in the market this winter, too. So this winter is likely to be a good time to sell.”
"There are plenty of people in the pipeline ready to hit the market this late autumn and winter," Yun agrees.
Many real estate agents have noticed this glut of eager buyers first-hand.
“Winter is usually a slower season, but this year we're not seeing any sign of letting up,” says Matt van Winkle, a real estate broker and owner of Re/Max Northwest Realtors in Seattle. “The selling season was delayed because of COVID lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, so several months of usual busy sales periods were delayed.”
This buyer demand likely won’t wane anytime soon.
“We will see an extended purchase season in 2020 and into 2021,” says Shelby McDaniels, channel director of corporate home lending at Chase.
Lockdowns are forcing many buyers to upsize their homes
COVID-19 has not only created pent-up demand, but many buyers are also in the market purely because they're working/schooling from home and realizing their space is no longer big enough—particularly now that the temperature's dropping so they can't easily escape to their back patio to catch up on emails alone.
“With people spending so much time in their homes, including working from home and virtual schooling, there's a great emphasis on being happy there," says Matt Curtis, owner of Matt Curtis Real Estate, in Huntsville, AL. Lack of space is a complaint agents hear more often now.
And if people are allowed to continue working from home rather than commuting to an office, they might also realize that they can shop for homes farther outside cities—great news for home sellers who live in more remote areas.
Article courtesy of realtor.com