1. Sellers are more likely to accept a lower price: Owners are most eager to sell when facing or already in winter. They’ve no doubt told their family that this will be their “last summer in our Lake house” and they’re ready to move on. Also, once the owner has told their family they’re selling their Lake house, the family is naturally inclined to ask, on a regular basis, “Has it sold yet?” This all combines to make the seller more ready to accept a lower price.
In addition, while the seller don’t have any future use of the Lake house to look forward to, they’re having to pay for utilities, homeowners’ insurance, maintenance, property taxes, and make their Lake mortgage payments. There’s a mindset that they need to end these expenses, and thus, again, they’re motivated to accept a lower price.
2. Their Lake house is sitting empty: Many owners rent their Lake home for 5 months or so during the winter. However, every Realtor has, properly, told them that’s it’s much harder to sell a home when it’s rented. Thus, the house sits empty, and in addition to having no income to offset their expenses, the owner is a little worried about the house sitting empty week after week as it may attract unwanted attention from the wrong type of person. Thus, again, extra motivation to sell the house and move on.
3. The selection of homes is much greater: The number of Lake Gaston homes listed for sale varies from month to month, but in general, in the summer, there are usually about 150 waterfront homes listed for sale. In the winter, this number will usually increase to more than 200. Thus, with more competition and a bigger selection, not only are prices likely to be lower, but you are more likely to be able to find a home that has more of your wish list items.
4. There’s time to get the house ready for summer fun: When I sell a Lake home in the summer, it can sometimes be a downer for the buyers. We get an accepted sales contract and then it’s usually about 35 days before we can close. Meanwhile, the family is chomping at the bit to start using their home as the summer winds down. In our case, the children put so much pressure on us, that during this 35 days, we bought Lake furnishings and a boat, with our Realtor (I wasn’t in real estate then) saying “Now you know, it’s possible something could go wrong and you’ll end up not closing.” In the winter, things would have been much less stressful and we could have, at our leisure, done all this after we’d closed,
5. Your Realtor has more time to look around for you: About half the buyers I show around, after looking two or three times, find a very good fit for what they like and for their budget. But with the other half, after three looking sessions, we just haven’t found it. This second half goes in to my “Keep Looking File.” Whenever I have a spare moment, I look through this file, and then surf through our Multiple Listing System and then drive around and look at homes I think may be a good match. And I have a lot more time to do this in the winter than in the summer when the office is calling me saying “When you finish showing around the Smiths, the Jones are waiting for you to show them around.”
So, if you can, buy in the winter when all the odds are in your favor!