Winter home buying can be perplexing for both buyer and seller, especially in the north. When the weather turns and temperatures are freezing the ground, the snow is up to your knees, and it is not fun to tramp through the elements to shop for homes, it can be trying.
Working in a climate that brings snow, cold temperatures and homes that are seasonal, it has many challenges for the Realtor, the buyer and the seller. But, working through the challenges can be rewarding.
Sellers often think that there are no buyers in the winter and take their homes off the market. This is simply not true, there is always someone looking for a home. Seller on the market through winter may just be rewarded with a buyer.
When we had little kids and took them to the mountains to ski, we always advised them to dress in layers and take extra gloves. You can always strip down if you get too hot, we would tell them. This is the same advice I have for buyers looking in snowy northern Michigan for homes. Buyers are often coming from climates that are not as severe and are met with a surprise when they have to trudge through snow knee deep and look at a home with little to no heat. Be prepared for all things when looking at homes in the winter months. Bring boots, hats, gloves, etc.
Sellers find another challenge when they actually have an offer presented to them in the winter. If it is a summer home, they are often out of town during the winter months and need to deal with things from a distance. Their home may be winterized and they will now need to deal with opening it up for inspections and then re-winterizing it until closing. They may not want people coming through the home with snow. They may not want to have the driveway plowed and add an additional expense.
Seller can work with their Realtor to handle snow plowing and to protect their homes.
I find that buyers generally flexible when it comes to inspections. Trying to coordinate things to avoid de-winterizing more than once, etc. can be done. Depend on the Realtor to make sure things get done to eliminate extra costs.
Buyers sometime take a risk buying in the winter. For instance, a waterfront home be a risky buy because you really cannot see what the waterfront is like. The Realtor should be able to come up with photos from the seller to rest assure the buyer as to the condition of the waterfront. Another challenge is inspections of the well and septic systems. This can not always be done in the winter. If the septic inspector cannot break ground to access the system, inspection has to be postponed or waived. A seller that has records of all septic inspections can be helpful. These records sometimes serve the purpose for the buyer. Keep those systems in good condition with regular checkups and keep the records handy.
These are just a few examples of winter challenges when buying or selling a home. They are not monumental, but a bit more work versus summer season selling. It can be done if the seller, buyer and Realtor all work as a team to – get it sold!