Since the pandemic was upon us, residential real estate has seen surprising upheavals, including the adoption of remote work and the decline of sales seasonality. While real estate is traditionally quieter in the fall – with homeowners holding off until spring demand – we’ve found an interesting new trend.  

Opendoor analyzed housing data from 2017 (pre-pandemic) to 2022 (post-pandemic) and discovered a resounding takeaway for agents: fall and winter are not only good times for people to move, but they offer unique opportunities that other seasons do not. As agents guide their clients through the journey of home buying and selling, here are four pointers to help make the most of the fall and winter seasons.

Introduce your client to the “Anytime Buyer”

While the factors that tended to make fall a slower selling season still exist (the school year is still an important consideration), there are also many reasons for people to move regardless of the calendar. And now, with more people enjoying the flexibility of remote work, along with job changes and retirement, a move might be necessary at any time.

Our analysis found that of the approximately 5 million U.S. home transactions that occur each year, about 1.5 million of them happen during the fall and winter months. That means an average of about 30% of annual residential home transactions take place after August. By making clients aware of this significant group, which Opendoor calls “Anytime Buyers,” agents can demonstrate their market expertise. As home-buying patterns continue to shift, agents can help to ensure preconceived notions don’t hold clients back from making a move.

Take advantage of increased fall demand

The rise of the Anytime Buyer brings demand in the fall and winter. Even though new listings see an average decline of 21% each fall, Opendoor’s analysis discovered that since 2020, buyer demand has actually increased during that season.

Pre-pandemic, there was a marked dropoff in visits to Opendoor homes between the summer and fall — a 34% decrease in 2018 and 15% in 2019 — but this trend has since subsided. In 2021 and 2022, we observed almost no decline in buyer interest in Opendoor listings between the seasons. Agents can encourage sellers to let historically low inventory work to their advantage and sell on their own timeline.

Get the list price right the first time

Since 2021, around 10% of listings annually, except in the fall, have been delisted; that number increases to about 14% with fall-only listings. We looked at fall listings we believed were significantly overpriced and found the delisting rate jumped to nearly 24%. That means mispricing a home in the fall can lead to more than 70% likelihood that sellers will need to delist.

A home’s initial list price is a significant first impression. Agents know better than anyone that mispricing a home can cost homeowners a sale, and the stakes rise even further when a home is put on the market in the fall or winter. So while Anytime Buyers continue their house hunting throughout the colder months, it’s even more crucial to get the price right the first time.

Be prepared to make a deal ASAP

Even though fall and winter sales are rife with potential, these months are full of holidays that make doing business a bit trickier, given out-of-office time for the necessary lenders, banks and movers needed to finalize a sale. Agents can secure a deal for clients by helping them prepare to move forward when opportunity strikes. To make the stars align, agents should encourage clients to have all the essential paperwork done in order to make a deal quickly, including:

  • Net proceeds sheet: Help clients create an accurate estimate of net proceeds by listing out costs, mortgage payoff, and additional fees.
  • Homeowner association (HOA) documents: HOA rules, dues, and financial documents must be disclosed in real estate transactions. Remind homeowners to confirm if the title company will order these documents for them.
  • Major maintenance and repair records: Since remembering every repair issue over the years can take time, these records are essential for homeowners to maintain and update.
  • Manuals and warranties: While manuals for home systems and appliances are not required during the sale process, it’s helpful for future owners to see how well clients have taken care of a home. 

By embracing the shifting demands, level of interest and preferences of homeowners, agents can help correct misconceptions around the fall and winter season so that their clients feel empowered to make a move anytime that suits them.