Most people don't have "buy a new home" on their holiday To-Do list. Nor is it on their gift list for others. Truth: 'tis the season (Dec through Jan) for sluggish home buying.
But don't despair. Selling your home while humming Jingle Bells isn't necessarily going to be a slog. There will be fewer homes on the market, which means less competition for sellers.
The idea that all sales activity stops during the holidays is just plain wrong. I have sold many homes during this time of the year, even during Christmas week. Things tend to slow down, but people are still looking at property, both online and in person. Activity this year especially has been strong since Thanksgiving. Is it the low interest rates, the strong stock market or the pent up demand, or a combination of all three? Or is it the expected Wall Street Bonus Bonanza? Regardless, and especially this year, many looking for property during the holidays are serious buyers, another plus for those looking to sell.
Here are some essential tips for selling during this holiday season:
ADD WARMTH, COMFORT AND LIGHT
It might be tempting to take a home off the market during the holidays. Or turn down requests for showings as inconvenient. And you might choose to overlook minor (and major) details, like keeping a home in showing-ready condition to be able to accommodate last minute showing requests. Don't!
Buyers in wintertime are trekking through bad weather (ice and snow, anyone?), lower temperatures and increased traffic to see your property. Sellers should acknowledge and appreciate this, and make the experience as inviting for their buying guests as possible.
Make the property accessible and have it feel good. Be sure it is properly lit, both inside and out, recognizing that the days are shorter in the winter. Patios and terraces can have simple LED string lights and provide both a festive look and a chance for buyers to see what they might be getting. Add some appropriate color with some seasonal potted plants, such as poinsettias. Be sure all floors are dry and clean to minimize the possibility of slips, especially in a no shoe home. Have a spot near the front door for shoppers to leave their coats, hats, scarves and gloves.
It is important that a property be warm enough temperature wise. It doesn't need to be overly heated, but buyers won't want to remain in the cold for very long, and we want them to spend ample time to have a good look. Lingering is good.
WHAT ABOUT HOLIDAY DECOR?
Like fruitcake, people have strong opinions on what's tasteful when it comes to holiday-themed adornments. There's the "more-is-better" camp and the "less-is-more" camp. And don't forget the "none-is-best" folks. Many homeowners wonder whether they should decorate at all if they're trying to sell.
The expert consensus is: it's okay to decorate, but leave room for the buyer's imagination. Treat holiday decorations as you would any kind of adornments when you're trying to sell a house, which is to say that simplicity rules. Holiday decorations shouldn't overwhelm a space.
Sellers should make sure their home is inviting and not be a turn off. Festive decorations can be lovely, but mustn't be overdone, especially if they make the space feel cluttered or small.
What sellers should definitely do is evoke the cozy, inviting spirit of the holidays in other ways, such as lighting candles, baking cookies or warming mulled cider. Make the home smell good. Offer simple holiday treats.
During this time of year, the classic home selling principles remain: declutter, clean so it sparkles, have it smell good, be sure it is well lit and inviting, and always put your best foot forward. Happy holidays and happy selling!