Is Selling Your Home During the Holidays A Good Idea?
Selling your home during the holidays is a polarizing issue, even among the most experienced of real estate agents. Some of them will tell you that there is no part of the year that is less suitable for trying to sell your home than the holiday season. Others will tell you that it might actually be the best time for it.
Traditionally, many local real estate agents would recommend that sellers not attempt to list their home during the holidays, even taking it off the market during the last half of December before starting again in January. They reasoned that most potential buyers would be preoccupied by family and end-of-year financial concerns. Even if homes were listed for sale over the holidays, they possibly would not attract much attention.
Of course, a holiday break also allows homeowners to enjoy some peace and quiet with their family before diving back into a competitive market at the start of the New Year. For that reason alone, it is worthwhile for some sellers to think about a holiday hiatus!
On the other hand, serious buyers will still be out looking for their ideal home. With less inventory on the market, your home may stand out and not only get plenty of showings but contracted too.
Perhaps the best way to answer the question is to weigh some of the key advantages and disadvantages of selling your home during the holidays. With that in mind, let’s start with a look at the disadvantages.
The Cons of Selling During the Holidays
We will kick things off with some of the reasons you may not want to sell during the holiday season. Just remember, buyers are out looking every day of the year so keep that in mind if you decide to wait to put your home on the market until after the holidays are over with. If you do wait, ensure you are ready to get your house on the market as quickly as possible after the holidays are over with as new buyers will be eager to view homes.
Perception Can Become Reality
Since the end of the year is often perceived as an unpopular time to list your property, you might make prospective buyers think you are desperate. Home buyers could low-ball you or attempt to negotiate a much lower home price. You may want to reserve your listing and your energies for buyers who will make you a better offer.
You could also be marketing to a smaller group of buyers, which means that you will be less likely to find a buyer whose profile matches your home. This can be a problem for sellers with a very specific property, or one with special features, or historical interest.
People Are Busy
First and foremost, holidays are a busy season. People have a million things to do and a lot of places to be. Even if they do not have to travel during the holidays, the chances are that your potential buyers will be busy with family, friends, or finishing up work activities for the year as the holidays approach. In these scenarios, there could be very little time to spend on checking out properties and finding a new home.
Even if you keep your home on the market through the holiday season, you probably will not finalize the sale until after the end of the year. It is very difficult to close a financed transaction by the end of the year if the offer is received early-mid December. Buyers interested in closing on a property at the end of January often start looking right after the holidays.
Consumers Are Emotional
This is something that is rarely mentioned during the holiday season but this time of year can be very emotional for many consumers. Whether it is memories of a loved one, a traumatic event, or the euphoria of the season, emotions can run very high during this time of the year.
Some buyers and investors take time off for the holidays and the prospect of moving is more of a challenge than they want to make, especially if it involves leaving a home (to purchase another) where they have a host of memories in. Add in parties, events, and holiday feasts, and the drive to find a new home is often diminished during the holidays.
Wallets Are Tight
Holidays come near the end of the calendar year and people are already spending a fortune on presents, events, and travel. Even those holiday bonuses can be stretched thin. It is definitely worth considering waiting for the new year to start finances-wise.
In addition, during the holidays, some buyers are likely to low-ball you with a less than desirable offer since their extra funds may be tied up. Waiting until the smoke clears from holiday spending may be a good option if you can wait it out.
You Are Busy And Tired
Of course, you will also want to think about your own well-being during the holidays. You will be just as busy as the potential buyers and trying to fit in open houses and individual showings with all the holiday stuff going on can be excruciating. Also, keep in mind that this will entail extra cleaning during the time of the year when cleaning is more intense anyway. With limited time, extra cleaning may not be something you want to tackle.
Convenience is also a concern. It is challenging to keep your home looking like an open house during the holidays. Many sellers don’t want to deal with the hassle of keeping their home spic and span while planning a round of holiday parties, get-togethers, gift exchanges, family visits, and other holiday chores.
Some Flaws Are Enhanced
Let’s say that you have a drafty attic or a basement that tends to get damp when the weather is wet. Perhaps your neighborhood is not the highest priority for public services or conversely is overly busy with traffic. Maybe your heating is not in tip-top shape. Some other issue afflicting your home?
All of these flaws are over-emphasized during the holiday season when it is wet, cold and often snowy. A prospective buyer might not notice these during other seasons, but in the winter there is very little hope of this happening. Even if you honestly share details upfront, some buyers will not want to deal with existing issues during the holiday season, and could move on to homes that require less/no work.
The Pros of Selling During the Holidays
These days, many buyers start their home search online. This means that they can easily look for new listings from home, devoting just a few minutes each day to scan sites for listings. They will venture out to tour properties in person when they have narrowed down their search. You can bet they are looking so give them every opportunity to choose your home.
It may seem like selling your home during the holidays is the worst idea in the world, but many sellers find the opposite to be true. There are actually quite a few reasons why it makes perfect sense to list your home during the holidays and potentially net you a decent return. Here are a few of those reasons…
Competition Is Lighter
Because many people pull their properties off the market during the holiday season, you will have an advantage simply by sticking with it. When you are competing with only 4 more properties in your community instead of 24, you are increasing your chances of selling.
It is the most basic demand-supply dynamic and it is to your advantage to start or keep your home listed with a top local real estate agent during this time. This can really work to your advantage if your home requires a little tender loving care or has some unique features that otherwise might not appeal to the masses. When there is less inventory, every home gets a long look by buying consumers.
Internet Has No Seasons
Nowadays, an insanely huge number of prospective buyers browse listings online. They do not care if it is the holiday season or the middle of the spring. In fact, since people get more relaxed at work around the holidays, chances are they will be doing even more property browsing instead of working.
If someone is serious about finding a home, chances are they will be looking as often as they can for the right property. They may even have email alerts set up for specific subdivisions, school districts, or price points so your listing is flagged automatically if it fits their search criteria. Buyers are less likely to give up the search during the holidays, so you may want to follow suit and keep your house on the market.
Also, people spend more time with their family during the holidays and checking out properties online is a great way to spend some time together. What better way to get an honest opinion than to share your online finds with loved ones who will tell you the absolute truth about each home they virtually view.
‘Tis The Season To Try Out New Stuff
Some properties that are being sold around the holidays have been on the market for a while and this might be the perfect time to change up your strategy. For instance, this may be the time to rethink your asking price, take care of a problem that has been preventing the sale, or even developing a real estate web design solution that entices buyers to check out your property online.
Streaming and graphic technology has also revolutionized online real estate marketing, allowing sellers to offer photo galleries, clickable floor plans, and video tours. This allows you to split the difference between holiday plans and real estate salesmanship, reserving your home for holiday parties and gatherings and offering detailed information to potential buyers.
You might add a Christmas gift card as part of the package, simply to show that holiday spirit and appeal to a certain kind of buyer. Of course, you will want to consult your real estate agent before doing anything too dramatic.
We mentioned that the winter can expose some flaws, but it can also mask others. For instance, if your front and your back yards are not exactly the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, there is nothing like snow to make them look more beautiful and help the curb appeal of your home.
Also, by doing some serious holiday decorations, you can stage your property as the perfect family home, giving prospective buyers a taste of what they could make the home look like if they owned it. Also, your neighborhood is more likely to look spectacular during holiday season than any other time of the year, impressing prospective buyers who are driving through the community.
In the end, listing your home during the holidays comes down to a personal preference for sellers. While the holidays can be a relatively slow time in the real estate industry, there is often less competition for your property, which means buyers looking for a home may be unusually motivated during this time of year.
With both the down and upside considered, you may want to split the difference with a targeted holiday timeline. Motivated sellers might want to consider listing their home right after Thanksgiving. This gives them a few weeks for potential buyers to tour the property before the end of the year, which may allow them to start the new year off with a sale.
Whatever you decide, it is a good idea to weigh these different factors carefully. Consider your own schedule and logistical needs before committing to a solution. And if you are tempted to take a vacation from real estate, feel free to give yourself the gift of peace and quiet. January will be here before you know it, and your home will be right back on the market for a new group of invested buyers!