Making the Most of Selling in the Off-Season


Part of my business has been helping clients prepare their homes for rapid, lucrative, and successful sales.  Houses that are organized and staged sell between 72-77% faster and for a higher price point. Selling during a hot market and in-season is much easier than during a down market or in the slower off-season months.

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If you are considering or have no option but to sell during the off-season, Joanne Galant, Realtor with John L. Scott provides a roadmap for making the most of off-season selling.   Before planning and prepping, take a look at Joanne's advice for what you need to know to make informed decisions.  Her tips will enhance property marketability while ensuring the process is as smooth and hassle-free as possible.

Practical Sort:   Define market off-season in the Portland Metro Area.

Joanne Galant:  The off-season begins in mid-November as folks start to prepare for Thanksgiving. It ends mid-January as the holiday season fades.  In addition,  “pre-season”, for lack of a better term, occurs from mid-January until March 1 as buyers begin to preview listings. Then the selling season begins in earnest.

PS:  Does the time period change from year to year depending upon weather or does it typically follow the calendar such as starting around spring break and ending at the commencement of a new school year?

JG:  It definitely fluctuates depending on weather and the market. Some years stay “hot” even when the market is normally quiet.  However March 1 – July 4th is prime selling season.  Late summer is quiet and vacation time.

PS:  What is the average price and listing time differential between on and off-season?

JG:  It will typically add a month to listing time. Prices will drop by 2 - 5% when you sell in the off-season.  Fewer buyers mean less showings.

PS:  Are there advantages to selling in the off-season?

JG:  The advantages are that everyone who is looking and selling are very serious about completing the transaction. No one looks in December unless they NEED to buy. And no one sells in December unless they NEED to sell quickly.

PS:  Do you typically advise pulling a home off the market if it has not sold at the end of selling season or waiting?  If you suggest the homeowners wait it out, what is the endpoint, Thanksgiving?

JG:  This depends on the sellers situation.  If money is not an issue, then I would suggest taking the home off the market around Thanksgiving.  We can look at relisting on or around January 15. 

The seller should crunch the numbers to determine the cost/benefit.  Look at the price tag of carrying the property for 2-3 months or longer (upkeep, taxes, utilities, winterizing, etc.) vs. lowering the price in order to move the home during the slow season.

An unsold home is stressful. Some sellers want it to be over and done with even if that means accepting a lower sales price.

These are all discussions that are unique to each house and seller.

PS:   A client of mine mentioned that she could command a higher price as one of the few on the market during slow season than to be lost among the many in the spring and summer.  How would you respond to that statement?

JG:  She’s not wrong.  However there are less buyers so that impacts the amount of showings and the amount of clients that are interested in the house and can afford it. The pros and cons swing both ways.

PS:   We know that curb appeal is vitally important.  Could you share some advice for sprucing up the yard when the landscape is unappealingly dormant and the home’s exterior looks drab during the dreary winter days?

JG:  I’d keep it simple with some fall wreaths, not holiday specific.  Think leaves, pine cones,  etc. on the door.  Add some pots with evergreen bushes or some kind of winter color.  Visit a nursery for potted options.  Situate the plants near the door and along the walkways.  Accentuate back decks, fences and patios with outdoor white lights.

During Autumn, be sure to clean up fallen leaves and sticks.

PS:  If a client wishes to decorate for the winter holidays, what do you advise?

Avoid religious decorations.  Elegant winter season decorations are appropriate.  Less is more.  Imagine you are in an upscale corporate building and decorate with that idea in mind.

PS:  Clients have asked me is it better to get a storage unit to warehouse excess boxes and furniture or can they be neatly stacked in the garage or attic?

JG:  My first piece of advice is get rid of anything you do not need, want, or plan to move. 

If you can afford the storage unit go for it.  If it is a mobile storage unit, it can be moved to your new home to allow for easy loading and unloading.  However, avoid placing a portable storage unit on the property.  They are unsightly and can detract from curb appeal.

If off-site storage is not an option, then neatly stack boxes and other items in the garage or other storage areas.  Keep walkways clear so buyers, inspectors and appraisers can easily get to all parts of the house.

PS:  Due to circumstances beyond control, a homeowner has no choice but to sell.  What are your top 3 tips for selling during the off-season?

JG:  My three top tips are:

1.  Make access easy.  Allow showings without too much notice.

2.  Limit the holiday decorations to low key and tasteful.

3.  Keep in mind the nasty weather.  Ensure that walkways are safe.  Create a pleasant area at the entrance for shoe removal.  Provide booties inside your doorway for visitors so your floors remain pristine.   

I hope you find Joanne's advice useful for making the most of off-season home selling. 

If you need help preparing for your move, contact for a free phone consultation to find out how to get your home organized to accentuate your home's curb appeal. 

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Need a hand selling or have any questions for Joanne?  Contact her at or 503-477-2270.