10 tips for selling a home during the holidays

Top reasons sellers should list now, plus tips for making the most of that December sale

Selling a home during the holidays sounds stressful, and for homeowners who love to entertain and go all-out with decorations, it could end up being a total buzzkill. But those willing to make their home sellable year-round stand to gain a competitive edge with fewer properties on the market and the most serious buyers out and about forgoing festivities to search for their dream home.

Here are the top 10 reasons to list now, plus a few tips on how to make your listing shine as bright as Rudolph when you do.

Overcome the stigma

The first step is overcoming any stigma your seller may have about listing over the holidays.

Most sellers are still reluctant to list because they subscribe to the age-old real estate myths of Christmas past. This continues to result in a shortage of inventory, which means less competition.

On the contrary, today’s market is dynamic, mobile and seeing an influx of foreign buyers who don’t observe the same holidays as most Americans do. Fewer comparable homes during the holidays means greater sale-to-list-price ratios with less days on the market.

What more could a seller ask for?

Attract serious buyers

Even more importantly, those looking for homes during the holidays are serious. Think about it. Nobody is going to waste precious time house hunting during the most wonderful time of year unless they are ready to make a move.

Realtor.com cites a new crop of international and American homebuyers for searching at odd times of the year, in addition to companies relocating more often, as top reasons to list during the holidays.

Get in front of these buyers by posting your listing online and ensuring it’s ready to show at a moment’s notice.

Offer incentives

Forbes suggests offering incentives to get your home sold during the holidays. Things like covering closing costs or throwing in an upgrade such as new appliances can further set your listing apart.

‘Tis the season for giving.

Price to sell

According to the folks at HGTV, “No matter what time of year, a home that’s priced low for the market will make buyers feel merry. Rather than gradually making small price reductions, many real estate agents advise sellers to slash their prices before putting a home on the market.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Appeal to second homebuyers

Lake LBJ and Highland Lakes waterfront specialist, Tammie Bennett of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty said:

“With the approaching holidays, I find in the resort and second-home market, that buyers get more sentimental and family becomes the focus. The search for the perfect place to gather the family each year becomes strong.

“I listed a property in late October and received a full-price cash offer the same day from a family that had been searching for the perfect lake house. Their goal was to be in the house ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, and they were ready to make an offer on a home that was not exactly what they were looking for, but were ready to settle because the drive to be in for the holidays was important to them. My new listing was the perfect fit at the perfect time.”

Never underestimate the power of an eager and sentimental buyer. Capitalize on this by bringing your listing’s best entertainment features to the forefront of your marketing efforts. 

Don’t discount the weather

You think the cold is going to keep serious buyers at bay? Think again. Today’s buyers are conducting their home searches online, and there is no better time to house hunt than when you’re held up indoors.

Realtor.com points out that during winter, buyers like to “whittle down a list of preferred homes from the warmth of the buyer’s home,” which means that cold weather effects website traffic in a big way.

“Word-of-mouth, drive-by sightings and other forms of direct-contact marketing diminish significantly in effectiveness during bad weather periods.”

Market smarter, not harder, and maximize your listing’s exposure where it counts — online.

Take advantage of slow news cycles

Nearing the holidays most industries are slowing down. You may find a greater level of interest and ability to get your home picked up due to lack of newsworthy content.

According to TVP Communications, a slow news cycle presents opportunities; journalists aren’t pitched to as frequently, thus they tend to be looking for ore story ideas.

Know how to pitch yourself appropriately.

Get digital with it

Getting the most exposure for your listing digitally is important, as this is the no. 1 place people are looking.

In fact, the National Association of Realtors Real Estate in the Digital Age 2017 Report said 44 percent of people look for properties online first — including virtual tours and narrowing searches based on select features.

The report also notes that the typical buyer primarily uses a mobile device to search for properties online, so always make sure your listing and marketing content are mobile-friendly and up-to-date.

Be available

You might have a leg up if you drive a Lexus. OK, we’re only kidding here, but this story from Patti Maurer Williams of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty might give you a good laugh:

“During one of Colorado’s blizzards, I had out-of-town buyers in to look at property, and they got stranded in Denver due to the storm right before Christmas. Since they were stranded, they decided they might as well look at more property and asked if I’d be available.

“I showed property in two or more feet of snow, out in the country, with no plowing. I always said, I should have done a Lexus commercial because at the time I had a Lexus and was plowing through these neighborhoods where there were road workers — I’m pretty sure they thought they would have to dig me out. That was not the case! We found a home for my buyers who were very happy with the experience.”

Moral of the story? Be available for clients at all costs, and show them you’re hungry to make a deal. They’ll never forget this level of commitment.

Rein in holiday décor

This should go without saying, but Maurer Williams adds that when selling during the holidays, it’s important that the home isn’t overdone. Some sellers go décor-overboard and it’s tough for buyers to see past it.

Maurer Williams does a lot of relocation business, and companies tend to transfer employees at the end of the year.

She encourages sellers to stay on the market during the holidays because a lot of people pull their homes off the market then, so there’s not as much competition. And if buyers are out looking during they holidays, they mean business.

Amy Puchaty is the owner and principal writer at Amy Puchaty Communicationsin Boulder, Colorado.

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