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Blog: Winter a great time to sell a house
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By Laura Ortoleva, RE/MAX Northern Illinois
Dec. 31, 2013 2 p.m.

If your house didn't sell last summer, look at its asking price. That's the advice of RE/MAX Northern Illinois brokers, who report that the biggest hurdle keeping homes from selling this summer season was a list price too high for the market.



The good news for owners whose homes didn't sell this season, though, is that the real estate market remains hot, with many homes still fetching multiple offers. Owners who price their homes right – and prepare their residences properly for selling – should still nab solid offers in the fall and winter months.



Some owners might even benefit from having their home on the market as summer shifts into fall.



The key, though, remains pricing. Owners who priced their homes too high in the summer now can rectify that mistake.



"Especially in the summer season, sellers have a tendency to put a property on the market at the highest possible price point," said Janice Corley, broker/owner of RE/MAX Premier Properties in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. "Too many owners feel summer is the one market in which they can get the highest price. They focus on that instead of pricing their home where it should be. Buyers today know when a home is priced too high for the market. They'll simply look at another home that's priced more reasonably."



Working with a broker who knows your neighborhood is the best way to set the right asking price for your home. Such a broker will "run the comps" (short for "comparables"), which means compiling a list of nearby homes similar to yours and their final selling price. Sellers who list their homes for a price that conforms to these "comps" boost their odds of selling. Those who find they are receiving no offers as fall gets under way should take another look at their asking price.



"In this marketplace, if your home is on the market for more than 90 days, the public is actually giving you feedback that you are overpriced," said Lyn Sims, a broker at RE/MAX Suburban in Schaumburg, Ill.



Those whose home didn't sell this summer might even find some advantage in having it on the market this fall and winter.



Kathy Maykut of RE/MAX All Pro in Bloomingdale, Ill., said the fall and winter months bring more serious buyers. At the same time, these buyers are looking for homes in a market that doesn't have as many properties available as it did in summer. That usually works out to a winning formula for sellers.



"People who have their homes on the market in fall and winter face less competition from other sellers," Maykut said. "A lower inventory of homes for sale means that reasonably priced homes in solid condition are more likely to get an offer. They're also more likely to get a higher offer because buyers don't have as much to choose from. It's supply and demand."



Corley agrees that serious buyers continue searching for a home even as the temperatures drop and snow hits northern Illinois.



"Many people who look at homes in the summer are doing just that -- looking," Corley said. "In the summer it's fun to look at real estate. In the fall market, though, buyers are serious because they want to make a purchase before the holidays."

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