The Cereal City Real Estate Connection: A Qualified Buyer in Winter is Generally a Very Serious Buyer

A Qualified Buyer in Winter is Generally a Very Serious Buyer

A qualified buyer in winter is generally a very serious buyer.  If you live in Michigan, and are considering placing your home on the market, do not buy into the old saw that you should wait until spring to place your home on the market.  Too many sellers hold off for this, thinking that there are fewer buyers, and they might have more ‘luck' when the weather gets warmer. 

A Qualified Buyer in Winter is Generally a Very Serious BuyerI have found the opposite philosophy to be true.  The reason you should consider placing your home on the market during the heavy winter months of December, January, February and March is because every other seller is applying the strategy of pulling out until spring.  This means less competition. 

You might say, well aren't there fewer buyers in the winter?  Sure there are, but there are still buyers.  It is important to note that a buyer that will request a showing during a heavy snow period in the winter is generally a very serious buyer

Remember this: A qualified buyer in winter is generally a serious buyer.  Last winter, I was working with some buyers that needed to buy a home in January 2010.  They were serious.  Their home had burned down, and they had an insurance settlement coming within weeks, and I had already gotten them pre-approved for a new loan. 

They were living in a hotel until we found them a new home.  They wanted to buy, and get to closing asA Qualified Buyer in Winter is Generally a Very Serious Buyer soon as possible, so they could get moved in and become reestablished.  We were shopping in the $250,000 to $300,000 range and we practically saw every single home available in the area they wanted to live in before they agreed on one. 

However, the trouble I was having as a Realtor was that there were so few homes on the market in that price range in January, because so many sellers had pulled theirs until spring.  When we found the perfect home, and closed in February, I could not help but think later in April and May when I was seeing all the new listings hit the market on how many sellers missed this opportunity?  I mean, the couple bought a beautiful home, but they did compromise on some things they said they wanted when they found the one home with so many features they never thought about, and fell in love. 

The home they bought was actually one I showed them because I was running out of homes to show them.  The husband wanted a pole barn, and this house did not have one.  I showed it to them after we A Qualified Buyer in Winter is Generally a Very Serious Buyerhad looked at three or four others that day, and this was kind of a ‘throw in' for our itinerary because it was on the way home. I did not think there would be any interest because there was no pole barn.  To my surprise, they fell in love with the home, and decided to write an offer.

I cannot help but wonder if they would have made the same selection in the springtime, with 4X the available homes for sale to look at?  One can never know, but it is for certain that they were serious buyers in the dead of winter, and when they found the home they liked, they bought it. 

So any seller out there as we approach December that may be considering pulling their home from the market until spring would be wise to reconsider.  I recommend that you place your home on the market in the winter, and take advantage of the lack of competition. 

A qualified buyer in winter is generally a serious buyer, and if your home fits the profile of what that buyer is looking for, wouldn't you want the list to be as short as possible?  I would.  For help on selling your home in Southwest Michigan in the winter, give me a call at: 269-441-8182 or visit my website at:

A Qualified Buyer in Winter is Generally a Very Serious Buyer

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Comment balloon 50 commentsMichael Delaware • November 25 2010 04:24PM


Hi Michael - I agree with you!  While a winter property is a bit easier to sell in a ski town (Stowe, Vermont) than in Battle Creek, a well priced home will sell.  Congrats on ROTY! 

Posted by Teresa Merelman, ABR, CRS, e-PRO, SRES, GREEN (William Raveis Stowe Realty) over 4 years ago

Wow - great points!  I live in sunny CA, but we see a seasonal slowdown in the wintertime too - I attribute it to the holidays, New Year, taxes, etc.  But for some reason, I have had some of my busiest times during the "slow" season.  Perfect example is this week - I have shown homes to serious buyers every day, except for Thanksgiving.  I will certainly share your points to folks who are considering selling, and serious buyers who are looking to buy with "little" competition.

Posted by Tiffany Wilson, SFR, First Time Home Buyers & Investors (eReal Estate Corp) over 4 years ago
Being from Minnesota I agree with what your saying. I live now in Arizona and I think the same when its 112 in July. Great point and nice blog.
Posted by Rhett Laufenburger over 4 years ago

I will be reblogging -- which I hardly ever do.

Now is the time to list property in Oklahoma for the Spring.  My phone usually starts to ring right after Christmas as soon as buyers have packed away their Christmas decorations.

Posted by Debbie Solano, CRS -- Tulsa, Oklahoma Horse Properties & Land (Coldwell Banker Select, Realtors -- Tulsa, Oklahoma) over 4 years ago

Hawaii is "price right" year around.  Seasons only swing temp wise by 7 or 8 degrees while adding a few more rain days!  Michael good points for developing reasons to sell NOW!  Thanks for the post.

Posted by Robert Courtney, Century 21 All Islands, RA, CDPE, MCRE, CIAS over 4 years ago


Great post.  Most sellers don't think about the lack of competition in the holiday/winter months as a benefit to them.  It's definitely true that buyers out during the holidays are serious.

Posted by Carol Fox, Broker Serving Charlotte's Best Small Towns (Allen Tate Company 704-905-3935) over 4 years ago

Thanks for all your comments everyone.  I so glad to see others agree with this philosophy.  I thought I was in the minority.

Posted by Michael Delaware, REALTOR®, CRS (Troxel Realty Co. LLC) over 4 years ago

I'm assuming them a seller who has their house on the market in the winter is a serious seller? 

Posted by Jen Edwards, Broker Associate (RE/MAX Unlimited) over 4 years ago

Michael, good points here, the buyers don't all hibernate. Being in Michigan, I see these swings as well. I am hoping to find the serious winter buyers for a home that I currently have for sale in Garden City, MI

Posted by Craig Snead, Real Estate Investor (Quality Home Investments, LLC / Dearborn Heights, MI) over 4 years ago

Sounds like your buyers were wise shoppers - no house is perfect, and sometimes a little work is required to make a house into the perfect home.  The time and money spent to add a pole barn probably ended up being not so important, if all of their other requirements had been met.   Congrats to you on the wintertime sale and to the family for having the opportunity to quickly get their lives back in order after such a tragic event!

Posted by Rhonda Abbott, Wadsworth & Greater Akron, OH (Howard Hanna) over 4 years ago

Hi Michael -- Some good points, there are always pros and cons to selling in the winter, and it depends on the local market as well.  Some local markets are not as sensitive to the spring-summer markets while others are.  If a seller has an exceptional home in fabulous condition, their "market value" may be higher in the spring-summer market as exposure will be higher, even if competition is stronger as they truly may not have as much competition if their home is not your typical offering of average condition.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) over 4 years ago

Hi Michael - Gainesville FL real estate also slows down in the winter, which is the strangest thing since we don't really have a winter to speak of. I am working with some homebuyers right now in the $600K-$700K range. We've seen everything, and by everything I mean hardly anything. They have opted to wait it out in their apartment until spring until more homes come on the market....and I just can't help thinking....if more Gainesville FL home sellers in the $600K-$700K range had their homes on the market right now, they would TOTALLY have a GREAT shot of landing these great buyers!

Posted by Coleen DeGroff, Haile Plantation Real Estate - Gainesville FL (eXp Realty) over 4 years ago

Good luck, Michael! Our busy time in the sunny south is in the winter. It goes without saying that house shopping in the summer here, when it feels like you are living on the face of the sun, buyers do get a little better deal, depending on circumstances. We have many buyers from overseas and that is when they typically come over to buy - when it is their Holiday.

Posted by Lynn M. Bower, PA, ABR, GRI, RSPS, AHWD, PMN, CNE (John R Wood Realtors) over 4 years ago

Great Strategy!  Good luck!

Posted by Bandele Oguntomilade, Your Woodland Hills Real Estate Agent 818-825-6996 (Bogun Realty and Luxury Homes) over 4 years ago

Michael, I couldn't agree with you more. I just blogged on "Eleven Reasons To List Over The Holidays", and you touched on some of them. Good Blog!

Posted by RhondaHeaslip NanaimoRealEstate (RE/MAX of Nanaimo) over 4 years ago

I have a couple sellers I've been trying to convince to stay on the market over the course of the Winter.  I will share your post with them.  GREAT points.

Posted by Cory Kraai over 4 years ago


             Thanks for the great blog. I am thinking this winter is going to busy as I beleive prices have bottomed out and buyer's are worried the interest rates may rise. A historical opportunity NOW!

Posted by Rita Legan over 4 years ago

Congratulations on your achievement and good winter photos too. I relocated from the UK in winter, we had 2 Realtors, the first did not want to go out in the snow, so we moved on. You are so right and selling in the snow is fun for me. Here's to a good winter!

Posted by Corinne Guest, Barrington Realty Company (Barrington Realty Company) over 4 years ago

Nothing like a good buyer.  I have had lots of sales in December.  It seems to work.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments!  I hope you all have a prosperous winter!

Posted by Michael Delaware, REALTOR®, CRS (Troxel Realty Co. LLC) over 4 years ago

We don't have that problem in Arizona. In southeastern Arizona we probably have the best climate in Arizona. We are much cooler than Phoenix and Tucson in the summer and have a relatively mild winter unlike parts of northern Arizona. We do get a little snow on occasion and it is melted before noon and it always warms up to a comfortable temperature during the day. We have residents of the colder parts of the country come here looking for an escape from the cold. Many of them buy property as a result.

Jacqueline Drake CRS

St. David, AZ 85630

Posted by Jacqueline Drake CRS, Southeast Arizona land, farms & horse properties (Jacqueline Drake Realty) over 4 years ago

Thanks Michael for saying it so well. Here in No. California it to slows in the holiday season but as you said, so much less competition for the buyers and sellers that it comes down to the ones that are only very serious about buying or selling. And we all want to have that with our clients right? Our business is to sell homes and a dedicated client with a dedicated agent makes it happen. Happy Holidays!

Posted by Dianne McNeill over 4 years ago

I agree. Buyers who will don winter wear and slog through snow to look at homes are serious - they're not just folks who want to check out the area or who have nothing better to entertain themselves with on a Saturday.

Posted by Marte Cliff, your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 4 years ago

We've not even changed seasons to winter -- although it sure does feel this way!  Yes, "late" fall and winter, and the buyers that go shopping during the holidays -- quite serious!

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner, Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results ( | (503) 810-7192 Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time) over 4 years ago

Agents who advise their sellers to pull their home off the market in winter aren't serving in the client's best interest.  In many ways, I'd rather have a small pool of serious buyers in winter than a huge number of (mostly) tire-kickers in summer.

Posted by Eric Kodner, CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 - (Madeline Island Realty) over 4 years ago

I think that's so true with those buyers looking for their primary residence. Here in NW Wisconsin, where lake homes, cabins, and recreation properties dominate the marketplace, that's also true. However, the serious buyers may start shopping in January - March, but they'll more likely buy in the Spring or Summer season when they can see the waterfront and experience the lake in liquid rather than frozen state.

Posted by Jean Hedren, NW Wisconsin Homes for Sale (Edina Realty, Inc.) over 4 years ago

Michael, I agree that for buyers looking for a primary residence winter buyers can be quite genuine. Here in Breckenridge, CO, most of the people we meet in the winter are here for pleasure (ski vacation), they fall in love with the town and then decide they would like to investigate a purchase. But that purchase usually happens in the summer or fall months.

Posted by Pete Deininger, Breckenridge Colorado Real Estate (970-389-0372) (Breckenridge Associates) over 4 years ago

In addition, there isn't as much concern about your house looking stale after stitting on the market.

Posted by Scott Elwell (Sotheby's International Realty) over 4 years ago

Very good post.  It is also true here.  Many agents say their businest months will be in the fall / winter months.  That has applied to us also this year.

The week after Christmas is always busy.  If the inventory is not out there, they have no chance to sell.

Posted by Faye Taylor, Faye Taylor over 4 years ago

I agree that the buyers n the dead of winter are really serious buyers!

Posted by Robert Amato (Bob Amato of Empire Home Mortgage Inc) over 4 years ago

Great post Michael.  I share this same line of reasoning with all sellers I contact in winter.  Living in the snowbelt of northern Michigan it is baffles me why sellers, especially those that have vacation homes, take their homes off the market in winter.  Hello! People (and many potential buyers) flock to this place when the snow hits with their snow machines and skis.

Posted by Brian Jergenson (Keith Dressel Realty - Gaylord, MI) over 4 years ago

A special thank you to everyone for all your wonderful comments. 

I wrote this post on Thanksgiving, yesterday, when I had a few hours to myself alone after helping my wife in the kitchen for several hours preparing for our evening feast.  I was looking out the window at snow flurries falling down, and I was thinking about the coming months, and the inspiration came me.  I found that the colder months tend to be my better months as a Realtor, despite what one would assume.  I look forward to the heavy snows for that reason alone. 

It also helped to have a bottle of some of Argentina's best Cabernet Sauvignon to hand when writing this and no where special to go...

Posted by Michael Delaware, REALTOR®, CRS (Troxel Realty Co. LLC) over 4 years ago

I tend to get more buyers and more serious buyers during the holiday season.  I believe what you are saying is true no matter where you are.  Even in sunny CA if buyers are looking at homes with the busy holiday schedule, they must be serious buyers.  Or they would just wait out the holiday season before looking.  Happy Holiday selling to all and to all a good night.

Posted by Mary Robinson (Lenders Realty) over 4 years ago

So true!. VERY serious buyers during the winter months.

i know most sellers will wait until better weather months. I think they realize that there are buyers in the winter but 1. the seller thinks the offer will be lower during the winter so why bother and 2. the seller does not want to be inconvenienced with showing the house during the holiday season.


Personally, except for the occasional day when the weather is sloppy for showing houses, I think the holiday season is fabulous time to sell and buy a home. As a buyer you want to know the home will feel comfy in the winter, don't you? And for a seller, fewer buyers but less competition brings more serious buyers. It's a great combination.

Posted by George Walsh (Keller Williams Realty Premier Properties) over 4 years ago

Michael, there will always be someone looking to buy a home. The people that are out there in winter try to make the best decision they can just because of the lack of inventory. Many sellers just do not like the idea of keeping the house clean when there is so much 'soiled taffic' coming into the home, and people are lazy about removing wet boots and shoes. Good Post.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754) over 4 years ago

Very good points. I just explained this to a potential seller earlier this week, who is trying to decide whether or not to list now or list in Spring.

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) over 4 years ago

Living in Bozeman, Montana, I agree, Michael.  We have clients coming in the winter to ski, and for other winter sports, and many times they want to see if they can "handle" our winters.  They're usually pleasantly surprised with the weather, except that there are fewer homes to view.   I do counsel my sellers to keep their home on the market over the winter.  It won't sell if it's not on the market!  And there's a lot less competition!  Let's hope this winter will be good for everyone and that those serious buyers will show up! 

Posted by Sharon Tudor Isler, TWO Generations Serving ALL Generations (ERA Landmark Real Estate) over 4 years ago

I'll take buyers and sellers regardless of the season, climate, month, etc.  Good Points, real estate is a year round business... at least out here in southern ca! ;-)

Posted by Phil & Celeste Pafford, Corona Short Sale Broker (, Corona CA) over 4 years ago

this is a great post! i look forward to seeing more posts!


Amber Bennett

Posted by Amber Boyd (Novus Real Estate) over 4 years ago

I could understand the reluctance in areas of heavy snowfall but in CA I do not get it.

Posted by Tim Lorenz, 949 874-2247 (TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team) over 4 years ago

Actually a buyer during December/JJanuary should be considered serious, even if there is not even the threat of snow.

If they are looking during the holidays they probably have a specific reason for moving, like a job transfer. I always work that time of year, especially here in Tucson, as our buyer count goes up in the winter. Snowbirds, you know.

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (LONG REALTY) over 4 years ago

You're right about the "less competition" idea.

Posted by Bernadine Hunter, SFR, ACRE, "Finding Solution to Your Real Estate Needs" (Keller Williams Greater Columbus Realty) over 4 years ago

I totlally agree that buyers in the winter are serious buyers.  I live in a tourist area of the Eastern Shore of MD.  Many time in Nov a potential buyer will call and ask to see a home, from a ad in Sept.  Property is no onger on the market.  When I call the seller, they have been told by their REALTOR(R) they should take it off the market over winter and put it on in the spring.  Needless to say I sell many homes using an Authorization to Show in the winter months.

Posted by Glory Bee over 4 years ago

I agree with the comment about Arizona, not having any issues with buyers in the winter months. Our winters are mild compared to other states, who wouldnt want to live in Arizona or another other state if they don't have experience a harsh winter?

Posted by Francisco Garcia, Jr., 480-277-2922 (FG Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Congratulations on the 2010 Realtor of the year award. You are right. Anyone who wants to house hunt in Michigan in the winter is a serious Buyer.

Posted by Michael Emerson (Keller Williams Realty) over 4 years ago

I totally agree with you and just wrote a blog post on it as well.

Posted by Nicole Fleming (FC Tucker Emge) over 4 years ago

I loved this perspective.  I will share this with sellers!  I wondered why you looked familiar....I'm the 2010 Realtor of the Year for the Clare/Gladwin Board of Realtors....saw you at the convention I think.

Posted by Sonya Loose, Selling Waterfront & Acreage Properties! (Homewaters Recreational Real Estate) over 4 years ago

I never understood taking a home off market either.  Unless the seller is not serious, in which case, don't list the dang thing until you are.

Agents who advise this aren't helping anyone.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago

I totally agree, anyone willing to trudge through the snow is very motivated.

Posted by Dennis & Terri Neal (RE/MAX, Big Bear) over 4 years ago

You are spot on with this Michael. I think that sellers don't want to be bothered with the cleaning and showings during the holidays.

Posted by Wayne B. Pruner, Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI (Oregon First) over 4 years ago