At this time of year, buyers know that home inventory shrinks. The holidays are notorious for active listings migrating to TOMK(Temporarily Off Market). This migration, while predictable, does not necessarily mean it’s a best business practice for the sellers out there.
Buyers who are looking during the holiday season are typically serious buyers. People often have time off work during the holidays. This time off is a boon for viewing homes, especially for couples whose work schedules don’t mesh. Some home buyers even prefer looking at homes after the summer rush, when there’s more time to put together viable deals and negotiations are less stressful. Also, the predictable shrink of home inventory can definitely be an advantage to sellers who keep their homes on the market during the holiday. In fact, in a recent Realtor.com survey, 61% of the realtors polled felt the reduced competition was of great benefit to their sellers.
There are many ways to put a listing’s best face forward during the winter months, especially around the holidays. First, sellers can use the cheer of the holidays to their advantage. Staging a home to promote warm and cozy can be so much easier during December and into the New Year. Tasteful holiday decorations, a fire in the fireplace, the lingering aroma of baking spices– these details conger up sentimental thoughts. Sellers who are successful in creating such an atmosphere help buyers imagine their own families celebrating within the walls of the listed home. However, reign in clutter by focusing on just three decorated areas, for example the front door, the fireplace mantel and living room. An evergreen wreath or white lights around the front door makes the entry of the home inviting. Adding some splashes of coordinated holiday colors in the living room pulls the room together and gives off a festive glow. Greenery, or a candle display, looks really sharp on a fire place mantel.
One of the challenges for showing during the holidays, and the following winter months, is the decreased amount of daylight. One way to combat the lack of light is to keep all the lights on when the home is showing. Make sure to change burned out bulbs ASAP, and don’t forget the outside lights. Even if no showings are scheduled, keep the outdoor lights on for curb appeal–someone driving by might be enticed to schedule a showing because the house appearance is welcoming. Also, encourage daytime showings. Your agent can make the suggestion in the listing’s marketing remarks, and you can help out by being ready for viewings by 9 am daily.
One last item to consider: snow and wet weather can present a problem when buyers come to look at a home. In snowy areas, keep walks shoveled and take measures to de-ice the walks around the house. Rainy areas– double check downspouts and gutters to make sure they are doing their job. Seasonal outwear– both your own and buyers’– must be considered. Come up with a plan to contain your coats, hats, gloves and boots. A decorative container near the entrance your family uses can stash away hats and gloves. Keep the coats in the coat closet to a minimum. Take the time to hang your coat up in your bedroom closet to keep that clutter down. Buyers will probably keep their coats with them, but their shoes will be wet, and possibly muddy. If there is room, consider providing them a place to sit down and remove shoes. Even a pretty rug right inside the door, to wipe shoes on, will be a big help. Also, maintain a warm inside temperature, but not too warm. 65 degrees is good for winter showings, where buyers arrive bundled up due to the cold weather outside.
What if you already temporarily took your home off the market for the holidays, before considering all the benefits of listing through the end of the year? Talk to your agent. It’s not difficult to bring the listing back to active, and your agent to ready (and willing) to help you navigate the busy holiday season in conjunction to having a home listed for sale.
All of us at Windermere R.E. / Mercer Island hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season. Cheers to a Happy New Year!
Now it’s your turn– have you ever sold, or bought, a home around the holidays. What was the most helpful tips you received?