To many homeowners, selling a home during the holidays sounds like a stressful, unproductive experience. The objections come from two categories:
Holiday listings are a hassle:
“Mom won’t be able to put up all of her favorite decorations.”
“The phone will ring all through Thanksgiving dinner.”
“We’ll have to kick Grandma and Grandpa out every day during nap time for showings.”
Holiday listings are unproductive:
“Almost all home sales happen in the summer.”
“Everyone travels during the holidays, so all of the buyers will be out of town.”
“There are very few home buyers in the winter, and they will still be looking in spring.”
While many of these old standbys were true in years past, the way real estate is conducted and the way consumers buy homes has shifted dramatically in recent years. There are a lot of significant reasons today to have your home listed for sale during the holidays.
1. The Growth of International Buyers
The number of home buyers from foreign nations has increased dramatically as the real estate market in the United States has improved over the past few years. These buyers don’t observe the same calendar of events as most Americans. We’ve seen significant upticks in buyer showings and home sales around holiday periods that traditionally were unofficial vacation periods for the real estate industry. When the foreign buyer comes to house hunt, American holidays are often not part of the scheduling process.
2. American Homeowner Mobility Continues to Increase
Americans are far more mobile in their lifestyles than they used to be. Occupations change at a higher rate. Companies relocate more often. The vast changes in technology create boom scenarios that make one region flush with jobs after another.
Home buyers employed in these business sectors are called to move across the country at any point in the year. Their employers often reimburse them through a relocation package to sell their home and buy a new one. When they arrive in a new city, it doesn’t matter if it’s January or July. They’re going to buy a home fairly quickly.
3. Seller Competition Is Lighter During the Holidays
While these new crops of international and mobile American home buyers are searching for homes at odd times of the year, home sellers are often still reluctant to list their homes during the holidays. This creates a shortage of inventory and a strong seller’s market in many cases. The home seller who is on the market in an area with very few comparable homes can often stick strongly to the price they’re hoping to get. Without a reasonable number of similar, competitive listings for buyers to visit, the seller is in a unique position of power because of the scarcity of comparable homes.
4. Holiday Home Shoppers Are More Motivated
Take the average American home buyer who isn’t relocating. They’d just like to buy a home in the town they live in. Those who aren’t particularly motivated by time will often take a break from searching during the holidays and start again in the spring.
Those home buyers who remain active in their searches, however, are the extremely motivated buyers. They’re willing to alter their holiday schedules and brave bad weather to get into a home. These are the kinds of buyers that home sellers dream about. They want to move right away and are willing to spend significant money to relieve their anxiousness about getting on with the home buying process as quickly as possible.
5. Internet Searches During the Holidays Surge
Many home buyers devote a larger portion of their house hunting time during the holidays to searching online, as opposed to seeing homes in person. The added convenience of whittling down a list of preferred homes from the warmth of the buyer’s home during bad weather makes real estate website traffic kick up significantly when the overall market sales might be slowing down.
To have your home discovered during this timeframe, it must be on the market. Word-of-mouth, drive-by sightings, and other forms of direct-contact marketing diminish significantly in effectiveness during bad weather periods. Homes advertised correctly online during this time get significantly more exposure than the average home, and those sellers that are taking a break from being on the market are as good as non-existent to the online buyer.
Five Reasons That a Holiday Real Estate Listing Need Not Be a Hassle
1. If You’re Traveling, It’s Easy
You leave town, and your REALTOR® is in charge of everything. Not only will your home be vacant and clean, it will also get a nice check-in a few times while you’re gone. Your REALTOR®will be by to see if things are fine. You can keep the heat on and it will not only keep your pipes from freezing, it will keep your potential buyers happy. Buyers’ REALTORS® will be in and out often enough to keep the home looking busy and well-traveled.
2. You Don’t Have to Take Any Calls You Don’t Want To
Who says a home seller has to receive calls 24/7? Every REALTOR®-client relationship is different. You, as the client, can manage how you communicate together. If you’d like to only receive showing requests via email or text, so be it. If you want your REALTOR® to only call between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., he or she can do that. As long as you are reasonable about having a regular communication check-in with your REALTOR®, the way you communicate can be as unique as you’d like.
3. You Can Have a Daily Showing Schedule
Showings don’t have to happen at all hours of the day. While the more your home is available, the better it is for buyers, it’s also understandable to have a limited schedule during the holidays. If every day between noon and 6:30 p.m. is the only time you’d like buyers to come through the home, that can be arranged. If yoga class on Tuesday makes it a difficult day, make that part of the official showing schedule, and have your REALTOR® put it into the listing. It will help buyers’ REALTORS® schedule showings and keep you focused on enjoying your own personal schedule.
4. You Can Create Blackout Dates
When your in-laws are coming to visit for a week, let your REALTOR® know that the entire week is off-limits. Unless a buyer has come in and set a large envelope of cash on their desk, they need to schedule all showings the prior week or the week afterward.
The bonus with this strategy is that your home is still on the MLS and still being advertised online. While it might not be available to see in person that particular week, those holiday home buyers will still see the listing and be aware that it will be available soon. Meanwhile, your family is relaxing at home as if it were just a regular holiday season.
5. Holiday Decorations? Just Go For It.
Very few home buyers are truly turned off by holiday decorations. They might find them tacky, overdone or distasteful, but they’re much like paint colors. They could certainly help if they looked good, but they’re rarely deal breakers.
If you can constrain yourself a bit and keep your Christmas tree from looking like a spinning Wal-Mart rack, you’ll certainly impress your home buyers a bit more. Those 200,000 lights on your roof might also not be the ideal decoration. But, if you really feel the need, just do it.
Home buyers like the idea of a home looking like it fit into a neighborhood. They don’t want to be drowned in your personal treasures, but a little bit of personality is nothing to be afraid of.
Be Proactive – Take Control of Your Holiday Home Listing
Selling your home during the holidays can actually be a well-managed, stress-free experience. If you take the time to set ground rules and boundaries, you’ll find that you and your REALTOR® will benefit from the understanding during the process. In the meantime, you might be the only home on the block that is visibly available for sale to the next out-of-towner or anxious first-time buyer that is out on the holiday house hunting prowl.
By Suzanne Roy