Nobody’s buying homes between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, right? (Or are they?)
Home sellers often suggest to their agents that they should take their listings off the market during the winter holidays. Surely nothing happens between now and the end of the year, they ask? It’s best to wait for the spring selling season, right?
Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is: not necessarily.
Conventional wisdom used to be that you shouldn’t even try to sell your home during the busy holiday season. Potential home buyers were attending parties, cooking holiday meals, buying presents, or vacationing this time of year. With all that going on, there just wasn’t time to ride around with a real estate agent to look at properties.
But with the Internet, smartphones, tablets and our always-on lifestyle, that conventional wisdom isn’t relevant anymore. 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 check the listings 24×7
These days, serious buyers are always real estate aware — and the holidays are no exception. They may check out the latest listings in a mobile real estate app before bed or while waiting for the bus. You know the drill. We can’t pull ourselves away.
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 — your competition — is lighter
Despite our always-on lifestyles, many sellers still believe buyers stop looking come mid-November. At the same time, sellers who’ve had their homes on the market for months often take them off now to give the listing “a rest.”
The net effect is that the inventory for good homes often tightens this time of year. 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 salable home, 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 swiping right will be excited to see something new and awesome hit the market. Buyers will be motivated to see your home, regardless of what the calendar says.
Update a slow mover
If your property has been on the market for months, most buyers and their agents will assume it’s stale, overpriced or that something is “wrong” with it, no matter 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. Strike while the iron is hot.
You might even get a sale closed before the end of the year. But before you make any big changes, talk it over with your real estate agent, as always.
Plan B: 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 dealbreaker 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 early January. Many areas are seeing cold weather, bare trees, and dead landscaping. Many sellers wait until the spring — a more conventional time to sell.
While January inventory is typically still very tight, the number of buyers may be growing. 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.
About the author
Brendon DeSimone is a nationally recognized real estate expert and author of the book, Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling. A fifteen year veteran of the residential real estate industry, Brendon has completed hundreds of transactions totaling more than $250M. His expert advice is often sought out by reporters and journalists, and he is regularly quoted in local and national press. Brendon is a regularly featured guest on major television networks and programs including CNBC, FOX News, Bloomberg, Good Morning America, ABC’s 20/20 and HGTV. Brendon is the manager of the Bedford and Pound Ridge Offices of Houlihan Lawrence, the leading real estate brokerage north of New York City.