Conventional wisdom holds that the smartest time to sell your house is the spring. After all, that’s typically when the serious buyers come out, post-thaw and pre-school-year-end. Timing it all perfectly is key if you’re selling and buying at the same time so you don’t have to pay two mortgages, rent back, or move before the kids are out for summer break.
“This time of year is spent visiting family, feasting on turkey and giving gifts. Unfortunately, selling a home usually isn’t at the top of the holiday list,” said Forbes. “Many buyers don’t want to move their furniture and belongings in the winter, and the fact that the holiday season is coming up (creating both time and financial pressures) only compounds the situation.”
But there are those who throw conventional wisdom aside, bolstered by a need to list now or simply the desire to have their home stand out in a less-crowded market. If you’re looking to sell during the holidays, heed these 8 tips.
1. Take the power back
Buyers who are looking for a new home over the holidays may be as compelled to buy as you are to sell, but they may have the upper hand thanks to the time of year. You can shift the balance of power with a few smart moves. Make sure your realtor is good at collecting intel that you may be able to use to your advantage. If your target market is young families, setting out a toy or two or setting a small table with books and crayons for kids to play with before showings can help. If your target is retirees, consider staging a room with rich travel accessories. Going the extra mile may just pay off in an easy sale.
2. Get festive…but not too festive
A tasteful Christmas display not only creates interest, but can also bathe your home in a soothing light that gives it an added bit of beauty. But too much can be a turnoff. “Homes often look their best during the holidays, but sellers should be careful not to overdo it on the décor,” said Front Door. “Adornments that are too large or too many can crowd your home and distract buyers. Also, avoid offending buyers by opting for general fall and winter decorations rather than items with religious themes.”
3. Make it cozy
If the weather is chilly during a showing or open house, make sure your home is welcoming. Lighting a fire and a few flameless candles can create some inviting ambiance and cause buyers to linger. “When you encourage buyers to spend more time in your home, you also give them more time to admire its best features,” said Forbes.
4. Pay extra attention to the front of your home
Leaves blown off of trees and gathering in your yard can be unsightly. If you live in a mountain community that sees cold weather, beware of how that affects your home’s exterior appearance and functionality. Accumulating snow or melting ice can create a hazard. Either way, a little extra attention to your front yard (and maintenance when necessary) can help to create a tidy environment that invites buyers to come in and explore instead of driving on by.
5. Price it to sell.
No one wants to leave money on the table, but this is not the time to squabble about your sales price. Once your agent has provided a market report with comparable homes, he or she will recommend a sales price—and it might be lower than you want. But, remember, during the holidays, buyers are looking for a deal. If they feel your home is priced too high, they’ll probably move on to the next. “No matter what time of year, a home that’s priced low for the market will make buyers feel merry,” said Forbes. “Rather than gradually making small price reductions, many real estate agents advise sellers to slash their prices before putting a home on the market.”
6. Make it worth their while
Sometimes, all it takes is a little concession to make a deal. Over the holidays, incentives are even more important. “Make spirits bright by offering bonuses for people who are willing to deal with a wintertime move,” said Forbes. “Cover the closing costs or install brand new stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, for example. Special seller’s concessions and/or home improvements can sweeten the pot for buyers who are interested in your house but need that extra push to make an offer.”
7. Get creative
Listing the home in the MLS might not be enough during the holidays. A well-connected agent should be able to reach out to his or her extended network to locate potential buyers. Your agent should also be able to target relocation companies and relevant companies in the area that might be adding to their workforce. “Investors on tax deadlines” are another good target, according to Front Door.
8. Network, network, network
You can do your part to help get your home sold by spreading the news. Share your home’s listing on social media and with friends, family, schools, clubs, and other social acquaintances and ask them to share as well. You never know how wide a net you can create and where a potential buyer can be found.