Ask Val: Should You Re-List in the Spring?

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Are there certain considerations to be aware of when re-listing your home in the spring/summer market if you listed and then pulled it during the fall/winter market? Are there things that you would need to fix up in a slow winter market that you could let slide in a hotter market?

Answer: You’ve been on the market for months, had a few interested buyers, but nothing has stuck. Your house is still for sale during the coldest and darkest days of the year so you’re asking if you should pull your listing and wait for the market to heat back up in the spring.

There are three scenarios that I’ll consider advising sellers to take their home off the market during the winter:

  • You are living in the home, are under no pressure to sell, have been on the market for more than 60 days without an acceptable offer and have exhausted conversations with any buyers who have shown interest.
  • You have received feedback from agents and potential buyers that the home needs work and you will take time over the winter to make the necessary improvements, providing that the cost of those improvements will net you better terms than an immediate price reduction and avoiding additional carry cost.
  • A key selling point of your home is landscaping and/or a view that is difficult to recognize during the winter.

Pros & Cons Of Re-Listing

Pro: More Buyers. The number of homes that go under contract drops substantially from November-January and picks up quickly in February. On average, the number of new purchase contracts more than doubles by March compared to December and January.

Pro: Faster Sales. The increase is buyer activity (demand) results in homes selling a lot faster in the spring/summer.

Con: Not Necessarily Higher Prices. The increased buyer activity impacts days on market a lot more than it does pricing. The amount somebody is willing to pay or qualified to pay for a home often does not change based on the season, rather larger economic factors.

Con: If you decide to re-list in the spring, you are probably planning to do so at a higher price. Be careful with this decision because agents and buyers have easy access to previous asking prices and if you have not made any substantial capital investments to your home to justify the increase, most buyers will base their negotiations on your previous asking price, not the new one.

Pro: If you’re off-market for 60 days or more, your days on market count officially resets to zero when you re-list. This is a system rule for BRIGHT (the database of record for agents), although most buyers use sites that show the full listing history and can easily see that something was withdrawn and re-listed.

The Spring Isn’t Easier

Don’t ease up on the marketing of your home in the spring just because there are more active buyers than the winter. You will be competing against 2-3 times more homes for sale so you could make a case that you need to do even more to stand out in the spring, not less.

However, if you’re on a budget, you may want to allocate your repair, improvement and staging funds differently based on the season such as the warmth of the family room in the winter vs outdoor dining in the spring.

If You Decide To Keep It On The Market

Why hasn’t it sold? Identify the reasons and fix those issues. Here are some tips that may help you:

Ask For Feedback

Ask your agent to reach out to every buyer’s agent that has shown the property and get feedback from them. Did the buyers have objections? By taking constructive criticism, you can improve what’s under your control.

Improve Your Presentation

High quality photos are a must (Flash news! Cell phone camera photos won’t sell your home). Also, changing the photos as the seasons change shows buyers the home is fresh.

The right staging in real estate marketing is key. Staging a vacant home also helps buyers visualize themselves in that space.

Invest In Some Improvements

Move-in ready homes sell faster. But don’t panic– some improvements are worth it and won’t break the bank. Little improvements such as deep cleaning, painting the interior or exterior as needed (sometimes a touch up will do), cleaning or painting the exterior trims and some landscaping will immediately make the house more appealing. For major repairs, always hire a licensed professional.

Is The Price Right?

Discuss the price with your agent. Take emotion out of the conversation and try to see the buyers perspective. A small adjustment can trigger a new pool of buyers who have set up a home search based on their price range.

Remember it only takes one person to sell your home. Do what makes the most sense in your situation and always be honest with your agent about your expectations.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. I hope to hear from you soon!

Val Sotillo is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, 703-390-9460.

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