I’m not with the Chamber of Commerce, but I do feel guilty when people come to Florida to get away from the cold at home and well, it’s cold here. Not like “up north” cold, but cold nonetheless. You can tell the folks I mean when you stop in at Publix or Wal-Mart and see them in their flip flops and shorts when it’s 42 outside. (Up home it may be 9 below…but still.)
I started thinking what would be a good use of time for a visitor who--through no fault of his own--was limited from going to the beach due to the cold. So I was checking through the newspapers looking at all the things there are to do here in Southwest Florida even on cold days—and there are a ton, ranging from ballroom dancing, to quilting to over 65 baseball and well, everything in between. But there’s one more that is not on the newspapers list: go shopping for a new house. This might not sound like the optimal thing to do on some of these extremely cold days that we are seeing now, but it could prove to be successful for buyers who are willing to endure the chilly weather.
Traditionally, buyers are harder to find when temperatures hit the low numbers, and even here many people aren't inclined to go outside if they don't have to. However, if you can handle a little chill and some rosy cheeks, you might find that there are some excellent house-hunting opportunities out there due to fewer house-hunters. When you're shopping for a home in the cold winter months, you'll find that you're likely competing with serious buyers. Only serious buyers would endure looking at homes in the cold weather.
And visiting homes during colder weather will give you an idea of what to expect during the winter season. Just now most of the lawns have turned a winter shade of brown thanks to the cold, and many of the plantings around a home are leafless and dormant, so the curb appeal might not be as attractive, but there are other things that you can focus on that you might not have paid as much attention to in much warmer weather.
If there’s a fireplace, there's a good chance you'll see it in action if there's an open house. You can also really experience how well the heating system functions. You'll have the opportunity to check for any cold drafts in the home or damp areas that might indicate issues with insulation or weather stripping.
Be serious about your house hunting. You probably don't want to spend any more time than necessary out looking in the cold. That's why it's even more important to have a clear picture of the financing for the home. Know how much home you can afford.
Understand what your must-have items are and what things you're willing to compromise on or do without. Working in the chilly days is taxing, but if you clearly communicate to your real estate agent the neighborhoods and house types that you're interested in, you will have a good chance to find the home you want and need.
Cold weather house hunting can even bring some bargains because sellers might be eager to get their homes sold. Dane Hahn is affiliated with Sarasota Realty Associates in Venice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 941-681-0312. See him on the net at www.danesellsflorida.com