Now that the first wave of winter weather is upon us and the weather experts are saying that this winter is going to be “colder and snowier than normal“, it definitely reminds us of how bad things were last year—and how it gave a sluggish start to the usual uptick in real estate activity we start to see in early spring. For our Fall Survey we asked agents to list some of the things holding back local real estate and one of the most popular write-in responses was how bad the weather was during February and March of last year. There was so much snow on the ground that buyers were delayed in getting out to tour the houses that were on the market, which pushed back the pending contract and settlement dates all over our region.
All that frustration got us wondering if there were any ways to maintain a buyer’s interest from afar—mostly using email or phone communication since everyone is stuck at home. We’ve asked around and have gathered a few ideas that might help in times of deep snow. Though we should say at the outset none of these are a silver bullet, and they certainly require more work, but they could help keep buyers intrigued enough to come visit a home once the thaw sets in.
- Active listings usually come with plenty of photographs, but the luxury ones frequently include floorplans of the home. If you have a buyer who has expressed interest, you or the housebound seller could create them using any of the easy online tools (here are two free online floorplanners, but there are many others: http://www.floorplanner.com/ and http://planner.roomsketcher.com/#/?pid=493174). That way buyers can get a better idea of the layout and whether or not their pieces of furniture will fit well in the space. If you hear that there’s a must-have item (such as a sentimental dining room set or kids’ favorite ping-pong table) you could ask the sellers to measure the dimensions of the room and its doorways so the maybe-buyers will know the house can accommodate their needs. It is also a good time to pass on more specific information about how well the house is sealed against the elements and what the utility bills are like in winter (if they’re worth mentioning).
- Besides the property itself, you can get a lot of attention from buyers by providing more details about the neighborhood and local amenities. A list of the nearest restaurants and stores (especially if you mention the ones that only close when the weather is truly horrendous) will always be well received by buyers, but if you can use the free tool on Google Maps you can pinpoint where the listing is and then plot the points of where the best places in the neighborhood are that makes it easy for the buyer to see how close by everything is. Here’s a video tutorial for how to make a custom Google Map. It could also be fun to send them some black-belt level knowledge about the neighborhood—such as where the best sledding hills are or the streets where it is fun to go on a winter wonderland walk.
- For those in high-density urban areas, you can apply the same mapping perk to where the local public transportation spots are, but you can also do one better if you can figure out the easiest commute option for the buyers and present them with a few options. Let’s say there are several bus lines that go near your listing, you could spend some time on the local transportation website and figure out which buses get them closest to the front door of their office building and the easiest way to get on that route from where the listing is. Indeed, this can be quite time consuming for the agent so it may not be the best use of time for everyone, but if you have time on your hands and a working Internet connection it can be a way to show buyers how committed you are to looking out for them.
A bad winter causes such havoc that it can be tempting to wait. But with some extra legwork, and help from the Internet, you may not have to wait if there’s two feet of snow on the ground. Thanks for sharing your tips with us!