Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Selling in the Winter

Ok, the Hawai`i version of cold may not be of Winter Olympic proportions, but for those of us who live here, seasonal adjustments must be made. A constant in Hawai`i real estate is that demand for our product is always high. One thing I know is that after over thirty years in this business, there is a buyer for every property.

Even so, no matter how busy, REALTORS® are often asked by sellers why their home hasn’t sold. Sadly, the traditional seller’s goal of selling for the highest price in the least amount of time can sometimes be elusive. It’s a seller’s market for sure. Cash buyers are common.

What Buyers Want

None-the-less, buyers are still looking for a bargain; in most cases they likely waited too long. Foreclosure inventory is extremely low. Short sales have pretty much disappeared, and even when attempted, are largely unsuccessful. This makes competition among market rate properties very tough.

Preparing for the Sale

Traditional market rate sellers have one distinct advantage and that is their ability to “get ready.” Properly preparing a home for the market is vital. Timing the market is impossible. There’s no perfect time to buy or sell. Will the market continue to go up? Probably. Will interest rates increase? Certainly.

All things considered, it’s a great time to sell and still a decent time to buy. Listen to your “Coach,” Here’s what I know:

  • Sellers should make their house shine! I’m not talking about major renovations.
  • Clean it, paint it, and make it look loved.
  • One expert describes the relationship between buyers and sellers like this: Buyers are “taking your house on a date.” It has to make a good impression.
  • Price to sell! As I mentioned, Buyers are looking for the best bang for the buck. Price below competition. Be the best of the bunch. Buyers are out there looking. Listings become stale quickly. Price it right from the git-go! If not, buyers will sit…and wait while sellers “chase the market down”. It happens even in today’s market.
  • Sellers should hire the best representation they can find. Choose the top agent in the top office.
  • Look for world class marketing but don’t expect top-notch representation at a discount. Proper marketing employs systems and a winning team that takes years to cultivate.
  • Marketing is expensive. Your agent needs a marketing budget.
  • Sellers should hire the best but help with the process. Your agent knows what to do but help them increase exposure when you can.
  • Seriously consider every offer. Don’t quibble over a survey or a couple of thousand dollars… A bird in hand and all that…A home that sits on the market may result in a seller who had an offer in hand a year ago facing a smaller number this year.
  • Lastly (and this is my personal reminder), after you hired the best, listen! If your agent says you are overpriced, listen! If they tell you to clean the house, clean it! If they say to paint, then do it! They are on your side. They are there to help you get ready and make sure your “gold medal” is in the 50-yard dash, not the marathon.
About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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