How to Sell Your Lake Home in the Winter

winterhouse1The question we get asked most often in the autumn season is “Should we list our home now or wait until spring”? If you are in a cold climate, here are some points to think about in your marketplace:


  • Spring is when everyone lists their lakefront home. So that means supply is higher than demand. More competition for you means lower values for all.
  • Buyers who are actively out looking at lakefront homes in the winter/Holiday season will most likely pass the “UMA” test (Urgency, Motivation and Ability). They are less likely to be dreamers and more prone to pull the trigger. This typically transfers to less time on market for lakefront sellers.

So how can you get maximum value for your lakefront home in the winter?

The hardest thing for sellers to do is stop thinking like a seller, and think like a buyer. Remember, you are not just selling a home, you are selling a lake. Focus your efforts on the buyer’s priorities…the lake, shoreline and lifestyle.

  • Provide visuals: If the lake is covered in ice, buyers will not be able to know what the summertime conditions are. Have several photos displayed that show the shoreline conditions in the spring and summer. Include photos of docks and boats if applicable.
  • Define the destination: Lakefront buyers will first want to go right down to the water. Be sure there is a welcoming, defined and well-lit pathway free of snow leading to the water’s edge/dock.
  • Dock & Deck Safety: If you have docks, decks and/or shoreline walls, be sure they are sturdy and safe to walk on in the winter.
  • Lifestyle Staging: Buyers are buying a lake home for the lifestyle it will provide them. Help them understand the winter lifestyle by uncovering fire pits, seating benches, and helping them understand winter recreational activities. Let them know how they will be spending their days. Provide a great lakefront “experience”.
  • Market the Lake: Create flyers that have EVERY detail on the lake itself. Size (in acres), depth (maximum and average), allowed recreation, boating rules & regulations, Lake  Association information, aquatic weeds, public access, boat launches, fish type, etc.
  • Lake Visibility: If a buyer enters the home first, they will immediately walk to where they can see the lake. So be sure any window glass and/or sliders are perfectly spotless.
  • Marketing Materials: 95% of buyers start their search on-line. Photos and video must “tell the story” of the home and lakefront location. Assume the buyer knows nothing about the lake and area. Walk them through your location virtually. Panoramic shots of the lake, as well as photos showing the home from out on the water, are critical.
  • Share Your Experience: One of the most powerful tools you can create is a letter to the future owner. Talk about your lakefront experiences, raising your children, the benefits of that particular location of the water, the wildlife, the neighbors, your favorite lake activity, etc. It also helps you to remove yourself from your own emotional attachment. This will be critical to the future success of the sales process.
  • Special Agents: Most Realtors you speak with will be a “generalist”. They sell any type of real estate. But lakefront property is unique, your home is unique… and it takes an agent with lakefront knowledge to sell the “lifestyle”. Ask any agent you are interviewing about their lakefront experience (# of sales, time on market, etc.). Ask them to describe your lake as they would to a prospective buyer. If they can’t sell the emotional appeal, move on!

Bottom line: The perfect time of year to list your lakefront home is when you are emotionally, financially and physically ready to list. Good luck!

Posted by Scott Freerksen “The Lake Guy”

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