HOUSTON - Houston's housing market has cooled off considerably in the last six months, and that means anyone planning to sell this year will need to change the traditional thinking.
Summer isn't necessarily the best time to put a home on the market. Lauren Freeman explains why you should start planning right now.
The combination of fewer sellers and eager buyers makes the winter a great time to list a house.
"Less competition ultimately is the No. 1 reason for a seller to list in the winter, in the perceptually poorer months," said real estate broker Dan Tracy.
A recent study by real estate search site Redfin found winter-listed homes are 9 percent more likely to sell. The study also found that winter-listed homes sell a week faster than homes listed in other seasons.
"Many people think selling their home in the winter is not a great idea," said Angie Hicks, the Angie's List founder. "If you think about it, there's less competition because there's usually fewer homes on the market."
Even though real estate experts are expecting slower home sales to continue, as low oil prices affect Houston's job market, there are other factors helping sellers. Rents are high in Houston, pushing more people to take the plunge and buy while the selection is good.
"Also, when there are buyers in the market in the winter, they're more motivated because they're not just window-shopping," Hicks said.
One thing that helps a home sell faster in the winter is an HVAC tune-up to make the home feel cozy as soon as buyers walk in the door.
"What I like to do is make sure the heat is set at a certain temperature," Tracy said. "Maybe that's 72 or 73 degrees, whatever's comfortable for that home, so when you walk in, it feels warm and inviting."
Homebuyers love fireplaces. Fireplaces should be swept and have a fire burning for showings. It's also important to clean the windows and let in as much natural light as possible, especially on overcast winter days.
Agents are expecting more homes to be on the market this winter, which is good news for buyers. More new homes should be available this year as builders focus on starter and mid-range homes.