Dec. 2, 2013 at 2:05 PM ET
With the holidays approaching, sellers often wonder if they should keep their properties on the market or take them off. Or if they haven’t listed their homes yet, should they wait until after the first of the year? Maybe hold off until spring?
Conventional wisdom used to be that you shouldn’t even try to sell your home during the busy holiday season. Potential home buyers were too preoccupied with attending parties, cooking meals, buying presents or planning vacations. With all that going on, there just wasn’t time to ride around with a real estate agent, looking at properties.
But with the Internet, smartphones, tablets and our always-on lifestyle, that conventional wisdom isn’t relevant any more. The reality is, the home buying season is now year-round.
Here’s why you should consider listing your home during the holidays, or even in January.
Today’s buyers never stop looking online
Today, serious buyers are always looking — and the holidays are no exception. They may check out the latest listings in a Zillow Mobile app before bed or while waiting for the kids’ school holiday show to start.
Our hectic lifestyles also play a role. Many serious buyers today work hard. They don’t shift into holiday mode until the last minute. Even during the holiday break, they’re still squeezing in work. There’s no such thing for them as “going off the grid.” So why not continue to monitor real estate listings, too?
The inventory — and the competition — is usually lighter
Despite our always-on lifestyles, many sellers still believe buyers can’t be bothered to look for a home between, say, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. At the same time, sellers who’ve had their homes on the market often take them off during the holidays.
The net effect is that the inventory for good homes often tightens this time of year. So there’s less competition for sellers, at a time when motivated buyers are out there looking — and no doubt wishing there were more properties to see.
If you’ve been considering selling, are motivated, are flexible on timing and have a home that truly sparkles, consider listing right after Thanksgiving. There’s still a window of several weeks to get buyers into your home before the end of the year. And those buyers flipping through listings at their kids’ basketball game will be excited to see something new and awesome hit the market — especially if there’s a lack of good inventory in their area. These buyers will be motivated to see your home, regardless of what the calendar says.
Home not selling? Now’s the time to lower the price or change your strategy
If your property has been on the market for months, most buyers and their agents will see it as stale or overpriced and disregard it no matter how great it is or how light the competition is.
In that case, it’s time to take action, and the year-end holidays can be a great opportunity to shift course. Dramatically reducing the price or overcoming some major obstacle that’s been preventing the sale might be what’s needed to sell your home. If you received lower offers early on but weren’t ready to accept them, or you keep hearing there are issues with how your property shows, this is a good time to show the market you’re listening and are serious about selling. The motivated buyers, desperate for good inventory, will notice you and take a look.
You might even get a sale closed before the end of the year. Before you make any big changes, talk it over with your real estate agent, as always.
Don’t want to be bothered during the holidays? List in January
Admittedly, the thought of keeping the house clean, holding open houses and vacating to accommodate last-minute showings during the holidays is a deal killer for some would-be sellers.
If so, consider listing your property after New Year’s Day. Traditionally, not much inventory comes onto the market in January. It’s cold in most places, the leaves are off the trees and landscaping is dead. Many sellers wait until the spring instead, a more conventional time to sell.
January inventory is still very tight. And yet, each January, buyers call up agents, wanting to get into the market. Often, new buyers — with their fresh New Year’s resolutions to stop wasting money on rent and buy a home — are ready to jump into the market as soon as possible. Some buyers are motivated to search for a home in January because of year-end tax planning.
Whatever the buyers’ motivation, for sellers it means one thing: Demand for homes can increase at a time when inventory is traditionally low. And that means if you’re ready to sell, you’ll have an even more “captive” audience during the holidays, all the way through January.
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