Selling your home during the holidays can be a risky decision. On the one hand, it can be tempting to try for a quick sale so you can be in your new home by the holidays. On the other, this time of year can be a difficult time to attract buyers. The real estate market is generally less active at the end of the year, partly because many people don’t want to move in November and December, especially if they have families.
So how do you decide whether to brave the season and list your house, or wait until springtime when the real estate market is traditionally hotter (no pun intended)? Here are some considerations to take into account.
First, the pros:
There’s less inventory, so technically there’s less competition.
Because so many people wait to sell their homes in the warmer months, it’s likely that you’ll have less competition on the market during the holidays—at least, speaking in terms of volume.
People wait for many reasons, from wanting to spend their last holiday season in their home before selling, to not wanting to deal with the hassle of handling repairs, upkeep, and paperwork during an already busy time.
This can be good for motivated sellers, as the buyers who are looking will have fewer options. This may lead to a higher sales price, as well as a faster home sale.
People who are home shopping this time of year are motivated, serious buyers.
Along with lower inventory numbers, there are fewer buyers out looking. The ones who are, however, are going to be motivated to find a property they like, make an offer, and close as quickly as possible. It’s possible they’re moving because of a transfer, and want to get settled in a new home before starting the new job in January. Or maybe a couple is having a baby early in the new year and wants to buy their first home as a family before the baby arrives.
This can be a positive for you, as they may be less likely to haggle over things like price, repairs, updates, and other points of contention that can potentially hold up a home sale.
You can take advantage of seasonal decor to make your home seem extra inviting.
One advantage of selling a house during the holiday season? If you incorporate classic, understated holiday decor, you can create an incredibly warm, cozy, inviting home.
An evergreen wreath on the door and some simple white lights will make potential buyers feel in the holiday spirit as soon as they step onto your porch.
Inside, you’ll want to keep your decor minimal. Make sure you don’t inadvertently hide an important feature, like the mantel or a set of French doors, by loading up on the garland or bows.
And while you don’t have to completely forgo the Christmas tree or menorah, remember that buyers should be able to see themselves in the home. If they’re looking at the children’s holiday projects from first grade, it will be more difficult for them to imagine having their own holidays there one day.
There are fewer buyers looking.
As mentioned earlier, there aren’t all that many buyers who want to uproot themselves and their families in the middle of the holidays. The ones who do almost certainly have a compelling reason and are therefore motivated to find a home quickly—but they still have to fall in love with your home.
This can mean that you’ll have fewer showings, and lower interest overall. If you’re concerned about getting the highest possible price on your home—and if it’s an investment property, that’s probably the case—it may be smarter to wait to list until spring.
Homes lose perceived value the longer they’re on the market, as potential buyers assume something must be wrong with either the property or the sellers when months go by without an offer.
That’s one reason it’s so important to price your home or investment property correctly from the get-go.
Price it too high, and you risk turning off buyers who may have been interested in your property, but never even set foot in the door for a showing because you’ve priced it out of their range. You also may need to make a couple of price drops in order to get it to sell, and that can send the wrong message to buyers.
If you price it too low, potential buyers may think there’s a major defect with the home or location and not even bother looking. The best way to make sure you price correctly any time of the year, including during the holidays, is by having your agent do a comparative market analysis.
Keeping your home show-ready can be more difficult when you’re trying to celebrate the season.
Unsurprisingly, it can be much more difficult to keep your home in show-ready condition during the holidays. Whether you’re living in it or you have renters, November and December are generally when cookies are baked, friends and family visit, parties are had, gifts are wrapped, decorations are placed…there’s a lot going on!
Before you decide to sell your home over the holidays, ask yourself if you’re ready to commit to keeping it clean and show-ready during this very busy time. If the answer might be no, consider waiting until the new year.
The new year often brings with it resolutions to clean and declutter our homes anyway—two activities that can be extremely beneficial when getting ready to sell a home!
Whether you’re simply ready to move on to the next big thing, or you’re facing a timeline that forces you to sell during the holidays, remember that selling during this off-season can work in your favor as long as you’re realistic about your expectations and put your best foot forward.
And, if you decide to wait it out, then you’ve just given yourself more time to get the home in shape to sell quickly and for the greatest possible price.
After making that sale, when you’re in the market for your next home, use a home affordability calculator to figure out exactly how much home you can afford.
This article has been contributed by Elizabeth Pandolfi.