‘Tis the season, the saying goes. A season for fun and merriment. Family and friends. Gift-giving and receiving. Decorating, food, and a tasty little libation.
The holidays are a joyous time for most people and a great time to reconnect with loved ones. But some things might be best left until after the holidays – like selling your house, right? Well, maybe. Or maybe not.
Every year, there are plenty of houses on the market during the December holiday season. Some sellers do quite well at that time of year while others throw up their hands and think, “Why am I doing this?”
Well, there are always pros and cons to every situation, so here’s our take on whether or not you should try to sell your house during such a busy season.
Potential Reasons NOT to List
There are several factors that might make you hesitant to list your home just before the holiday season, such as in November or even late October. Here are our top reasons for not listing:
You may find it hard to be “at the ready” whenever someone wants to see your home. Let’s face it. Even the best of us get a little messy when wrapping presents, baking cookies, or doing whatever else it takes to get ready for the holidays. Furthermore, most of us tend to spend more time away from home during this time of year. We may go away for the holidays for an extended time or take day trips to see local friends.
Your willingness to show during the holidays might be misinterpreted as being “desperate”, so you might be subject to some low offers by buyers who think you really need to sell NOW.
Your agent is likely to be less available than during other times of the year. Therefore, if you do get an offer, you might have to deal with a different agent or broker if yours is not available. That’s usually fine but might make you uncomfortable if you’ve already formed a good and trusting relationship with your agent.
If you’re trying to close before the end of the year, it’s likely doubtful that it will happen unless the deal is all cash or comes in by early November. Deals signed in December will usually not close until at least sometime in January.
If you’re in a climate where it’s cold and snowy during December, buyers are less likely to spend time looking. No one really wants to bundle up the kids and trudge through someone else’s house when the weather is miserable.
Reasons the holidays might be a good time to sell
However, selling during the holiday season could be to your advantage in some instances. For example:
Buyers that are in a hurry – such as those being transferred to your area with little notice – might be just the right candidate for your home. Furthermore, if many sellers choose not to list during the holidays and inventory is low, you’ll be at a distinct advantage when it comes to attracting buyers who need to buy NOW.
If it’s a seller’s market, it won’t much matter if you’re listed during this busy time of year. Your home will likely sell in a timely manner, even between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Some people simply love Christmas, and if they see your home decked out in its finery for the holidays, they might just fall in love with it and decide it’s the house for them
A few decorating tips
If you do decide to list – or remain listed during the holidays, it’s best to keep the decorations to a minimum or else you could be masking all the home’s wonderful attributes. Professional stagers offer the following advice:
Use natural items whenever possible, like greens, holly, poinsettias, pine cones, and similar for decorations, rather than lots of glitzy garland and other kitschy items.
Stick to warm red colors (like burgundy/maroon), when possible. Buyers are more attracted to that color, and it makes your house appear more “homey” and less commercial. Achieve the green color by using the above-mentioned natural items.
Don’t get carried away with a huge tree. Keep it under 5 feet if possible. If you have an especially large room with high ceilings, go for the tall tree but keep the ornaments to a minimum. In this case, simple is better.
Don’t put the presents out under the tree or near the Menorah until Christmas Eve/Hanukkah or whenever you wish to stop showing the house. This way, your home looks less crowded, and it’s less likely that curious little hands will get into them during a showing.
Keep a lovely fragrance burning, like a gingerbread or apple cider candle or potpourri. (But never leave candles burning when you’re not at home.)
Help your potential buyers get into the mood by offering some fresh Christmas cookies during showings. Place them by the spec sheets in a place where they’re sure to be spotted.
One additional option
Some sellers that listed their home earlier in the year but still haven’t sold by the December holidays often take their home off the market and re-list it anew in January. This way, it appears as a new listing at that time and gets a whole new life, so to speak.
Ask your realtor about that option and other options for holiday-time selling.