You may have heard the old real estate maxim that homes that go up for sale in the winter are owned by truly motivated sellers. After all, who would sell at the time of year when the market is thinnest rather than waiting for the more active spring market?
However, this pattern may not apply when it comes to areas where the winters are milder and where outdoor living is a year-round affair. If you’re a buyer or seller in California, Arizona, Florida, or another mild-weather area, you’ll want to rethink your strategy to ensure that you are taking advantage of the best possible market conditions for your sale.
Where are the warm-weather winter markets?
Many of the most popular US destinations for relocating are metropolitan markets located throughout the Southwest and Southeast, along with some coastal areas that experience year-round mild weather. Among these are perennial favorites such as Austin, Texas, Phoenix, Arizona, and many markets in California, Florida, and the Carolinas.
Why business-as-usual doesn’t apply here.
Unlike real estate in states with traditional seasonal weather patterns, markets with warmer year-round temperatures don’t always experience the same sales dip in the fall and winter months. While many metropolitan areas in the North go into hibernation in the winter, warm-weather markets may become even more active than usual.
In the case of resort markets, in particular, the high season begins around the holidays and may continue until the start of spring. This is when there’s an influx of visitors who may be considering a second home or retirement move. It’s also when seasonal renters may be trying out the market and evaluating it for a more permanent relocation.
Real estate in these areas may be at its peak during this time, meaning that sellers will need to work with their real estate agent or broker to identify the optimal time to put their home on the market. Looking at prior-year sale patterns can be particularly valuable, offering insight into the way real estate moves in your local area.
Selling a home in a warm-weather winter market
If you’re getting your home ready to sell in a warm-weather market, here are some things to consider before you begin:
- Talk to your real estate professional about the right time to roll out your listing. Seasonal buyers in your area may start coming in before the holidays or after the New Year. They may spend a month or two in a seasonal rental before they start looking for a home in the area. Your agent will have insights into these specifics so that you can time your sale optimally.
- Many warm-weather homes place an emphasis on outdoor spaces, including pools, spas, lanais, and other features. Stage these as carefully as you would the inside of the home, ensuring that they appear clean and in the best possible condition. Have screens and hardscapes power washed and freshen up furniture with bright new cushions and accessories.
- Buyers will be looking to live the lifestyle your area is known for. You may be used to keeping the curtains closed to keep energy costs down or avoid fading upholstery and rugs. Lighten up and brighten up to let the sunshine in before photographs and showings. After all, that sunshine is what your buyer is searching for most of all.
- If you live in a community with resort-style amenities or if you’re close to a recreation area, consider working with your real estate professional to create a flyer or handout to be given to potential buyers or emailed to them after their showing. Many warm-weather sales are motivated by the lifestyle available year-round in your area, so these amenities should be highlighted as valuable selling points.
- Many buyers in your market may be on vacation or may be relocating from another part of the country. They may not be able to reschedule a showing or book it for a time that is more convenient for you. Go into the sales process knowing that you may have to keep your house buyer-ready most of the time in order to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.
Buying a home in a warm-weather winter market
If you’re thinking about moving to a warm-weather market, you may be unsure what to expect in your new hometown. Here are some things to consider as you search:
- If you’re used to thinking of winter as the slow time in your current market, work with your buyer agent to identify trends in your target market. Find out when sales are at their peak and aim to search when the market is slower, if possible.
- If you are relocating, you may not be able to fly back and forth multiple times to identify the best possible option. Talk to your buyer agent ahead of time about what exactly you are looking for. Ask them about their capacity to provide virtual showings and walk-throughs so that you can develop a solid shortlist before you book an airline ticket.
- When you’re developing your budget, keep in mind outdoor spaces and their upkeep. Pools, large lawns, and other outdoor features are a big part of why you’re moving, without a doubt, but they cost a fair amount of money to manage, maintain, and upgrade as needed. Make sure that you factor this into the calculation when determining your purchase price range.
- Similarly, think about what you might need to buy in order to fully enjoy your new lifestyle in a warm-weather market. If your furniture is all heavy and suited to your current lifestyle, you may want to switch it up for a lighter look in your new home. While you’ll get rid of your snow shovels, you may end up replacing them with new golf clubs and recreational equipment. You may end up getting rid of your old SUV but replacing it with a convertible—or you may keep the SUV to pull your new boat. Take into consideration the lifestyle you want and what changes you’ll need to make after your move.