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What to Know About Selling A Seasonal Property

What is A Seasonal Property

Typically a seasonal home is a holiday property — for which there’s a specific season where it’s popular. Beach homes, mountain cabins, cottages in high tourist areas all fit into this category. But, this discussion is equally applicable to other permanent homes in coastal, mountain or tourist areas.

Understanding the Seasonal Market

May is the best time to sell a home, according to Zillow. Well, at least for 14 out of 24 large housing markets they analyzed. Each housing market has its nuances, but seasonal homes are more variable to changing seasons.

Typically, a property will seller faster and attract the highest possible price, if sold “in season”. In some cases, this means attracting more than 10% higher prices than if sold during the “off-season”. With seasonal property, the high inventory of homes for sale in the peak season does mean there is more competition. But, because the busy season also coincides with a steep increase in buyers looking to purchase, an agent can move a property quicker and achieve a better bottom line.

Selling a Summer Home vs a Winter Home

In most cases, the busiest season for a seasonal property will be Summer. There are almost double the number of vacation buyers for beachside properties, compared to mountain or lakefront homes, according to the NAR statistics for 2015.

Agents and brokers local to an area know when families take their holidays in that area. Use that knowledge to target a listing when buyers are more likely to look at homes. You can also leverage the busy season, when homes are selling faster, to help buyers decide more quickly.

The National Bureau of Economic Research found that the warmer weather can positively impact home sales. Especially if the property has features such as an air-conditioner or swimming pool. No one wants to buy a house in extreme heat though — so the timing of any open houses should be selected according to the weather.

Selling a Winter home — a cabin, a mountain home, or a place near a ski field or Winter tourist area, brings with it additional challenges. While selling in the high season is still the best thing to do in this case, be mindful of road conditions and weather. On a cold day, it’s also very easy to notice if a property’s insulation isn’t the best, or if the heating isn’t warming the whole house, so plan open houses and showings for optimal times.

When to Put A Seasonal Property on the Market

Advertising should start before the busy season begins. For coastal areas, this means as soon as the weather warms up. For mountain homes, this means marketing when the weather just starts to become cooler.

If you’re selling a holiday home that hasn’t had permanent residents living in it, this could mean the property has been vacant a long time. Vacant homes often need more repairs and maintenance — and they usually need a good cleaning. These things need to be addressed before the property goes on the market to achieve the optimum result.

Seasonal Property Marketing Opportunities

While selling a seasonal property in a busy market means competition intensifies, the busy season brings with it a high volume of interested buyers. If sellers use the off-season to spruce up their property, they’ll be competitive in the marketplace.

Seasonal homes are also particularly attractive to investors because they’re typically in high demand areas, which can easily be rented out for long or short term lease. The way you market a property to investors is very different from how you’ll market to regular buyers. Photos and words attract home buyers who want to live in a property — investors are more interested in the numbers. Investors want to know about:

  • Current and projected rental returns
  • Data about previous sales
  • Proximity to services and transportation

Include this information in the online property listing and focus marketing efforts on methods that will actually reach investors (such as online listings versus the local paper). Investors are less affected by the seasons than buyers who wish to live in the home, and they’re typically looking for opportunities all year round. You can still achieve a better price when selling during the high season though because the market is more competitive at this time.


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