With the advantage of today’s information superhighway, house hunters are free to shop year-round from the comfort of their cozy couches. Deals are made all year long regardless of the appearance of winter-weary front yards.
The Aitken Home Team presents five tips for winter house hunters:
1. – View Homes at Their Worst
While this might sound crazy, seeing a home in less than stellar condition can be advantageous. Regardless of geographical location, winter is seldom the best time to show a home. Dark, cold, and wet do not often make for the perfect viewing experience. Or do they? Here’s the deal: negative flaws are better exposed during such conditions. It is often during the colder months when drafty windows, street noise, and lack of privacy are most noticeable. Natural light (or lack thereof) becomes more obvious and the home’s true reality is best exposed. If you love a home enough to buy it in the winter, you will be absolutely delirious with joy when summer landscaping blooms, thus enhancing all that you loved about the home upon initial winter purchase.
2. – Ask for Seasonal Pics
Experienced Realtors understand the importance of obtaining seasonal pictures of a winter listing. For example, you can request to see summer photos highlighting the inviting pool, luscious green landscape and colorful, blooming flowers. Seasonal pics allow prospective buyers insight as to what type of summer lawn maintenance to expect.
3. – Seasonal Features
Many Florida homes, for example, have seasonal features such as a swimming pool. If your inspector is unable to test the pool because it has been closed for the winter, ask the seller to put some cash into an escrow account or extend the closing date. As the weather warms, the pool can then be inspected. The seller will be responsible for any deficiencies unless otherwise stated on a formal disclosure document. In the event that all is well with the pool, the funds will then be released.
4. – Document
Always, always, ALWAYS document or OBTAIN any and all available documentation on anything that pertains to the property you are purchasing. If your inspector is unable to evaluate every feature of a property or in the event that escrow money cannot be negotiated, obtain documentation. Professionals such as pool maintenance companies, lawn maintenance vendors, and property managers will have records to show that all winterization was properly performed.
5. – Ask Questions
Determination is key when completing a winter real estate purchase and buyers can never ask too many questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for a delayed closing or spring home inspection. The key to any good real estate deal is the negotiation and a smart buyer is one who protects himself against future liability. Remember, once you buy a property, it is yours with which to deal. Be smart and turn that winter purchase into a huge opportunity!