I have always been taught to steer clients away from putting their homes on the market close to the holiday season. We are rapidly approaching Thanksgiving, and then it will be full speed ahead to Christmas. The next two months typically fly by due to family gatherings, social events, school functions, and all the other festive activities that accompany this time of year. Most people are thinking about a thousand other things and not at all focused on buying a home during the holidays.
However, based on my experience the past few years, I have to disagree with that line of thinking.
Staging Your Home During the Holidays
In the past, the entire holiday season (Thanksgiving through January) has been considered an unpopular time for many people to buy or sell a home. However, in the past five years or so, we have really seen a huge increase in transactions during this time. I actually showed a couple houses for three days straight starting December 21 because they were moving from out of state by the end of January and needed a home. We know people need to move 12 months out of the year, including over holidays. Typically, the ones who are selling or buying during this time truly need to do so. The upcoming season is no longer “break time” in real estate. It can actually be a tremendous opportunity for sellers to show their homes when there is not as much competition. In addition, agents and investors are afforded a chance to make some great deals and really help their clients.
If you’re thinking of testing the waters and feel like you’re ready to put your home on the market, I have a few helpful tips I’d like to share with you!
Go ahead and decorate for the holidays, but don’t go overboard. Homes look so warm and cozy this time of year with the tree, garland, cheerful snowmen, etc., so you have the opportunity to showcase that. However, don’t put out so much extra holiday decor that it distracts from the features of the home.
Hire a reliable, ambitious agent. There is some truth to the notion that there are fewer buyers this time of year compared to spring and summer, so your agent might have to network a bit and utilize some creative marketing to find the right buyer. You definitely want your agent to be willing to work for you! Unless your market is insanely busy right now, I would avoid trying to go “For Sale By Owner” during this time of year, especially if you are on any kind of deadline to sell.
Price the home to sell. This is another big perk of hiring the right agent. Be sure he or she does a comparative market analysis. Make sure to be very realistic in your pricing. If your house is priced competitively, you won’t need to do a bunch of little price reductions, which we know is frustrating for sellers! Serious buyers are out there and will not be afraid to make an aggressively low offer if your home is overpriced.
Ramp up your curb appeal. In many regions this time of year, we do not have the advantage of free-flowing greenery and leafy trees, nor can we put out potted flowers and showcase a lush, green yard. That’s just not what winter looks like unless you’re in the South or California! So, do all you can do make sure your home looks as great as possible and is as clean and spruced-up as possible. A tasteful winter wreath, some potted evergreens or other hardy plants, plus a little garland make a very nice impression.
Create a cozy atmosphere. In addition to holiday decor, make your home feel as inviting as possible for showings and open houses. Light candles, turn on the fireplace, put out freshly-baked goodies, place a nice blanket on the couch or a chair, and have some pleasant music playing when potential buyers come through. Make them feel like they could just curl up and stay awhile. Be creative and let this season work to your advantage.
Be prepared to negotiate with motivated buyers. Like I mentioned, buyers who are looking at houses during the holidays need to find a home, sometimes quite quickly. Maybe they’ve been transferred for work or want to move closer to family, but they are likely moving out of necessity and potentially have a deadline. Be ready to work with them when an offer comes through.
Be flexible. Peoples’ hours of availability vary during the holiday season because they are off work or only in town for a couple days. If you don’t get your preferred notice before a showing or have a request for a showing a little earlier or later than usual, try to accommodate. It’s likely those buyers are devoting an entire day to house hunting and might be pressed for time. Let them see your beautiful home — it just might lead to an offer!
Please let me know if I can help answer your winter real estate questions and decisions. ‘Tis the season!