Debi Benoit is a Principal of Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. in Wellesley and Weston
Conventional wisdom says that the holiday season is the worst time to put your home up for sale. Its seems everyone is too caught up in the cooking, shopping, and endless family “get-togethers” to have time to look for a home, let along list one. The rule of thumb has long been to save that task for after the New Year, but that timeframe is becoming less and less relied upon; now many homeowners are getting a jump on things by marketing their property in late November or early December. With a little planning, real estate professionals say it could be one of the best times to sell. Here are some important aspects to consider when doing so:
More Serious Buyers
While there are certainly less people looking to buy a new home between November and January – those who are generally are more serious and ready to close in a shorter time period. No one wants to climb over snow banks when it’s already dark at 4:30, just to browse what’s new on the market unless they’re ready to make a move. Do everything you can to make the potential buyer feel comfortable when coming in from the cold by turning up the heat, lighting a fire, if possible, and even offering some hot coffee or cocoa.
Decoration Helps Buyers Visualize Living There
There’s something about the holidays that makes your home feel cozy. Having lights outside, and a tree in the living room can help potential buyers picture their family living in your home. However, you don’t want to over-decorate, and you want to be sure to leave overtly religious items out of your displays. Non-denominational décor is the best way to go because a buyer wants to visualize him or herself in the home and making it too personal may not allow them to do that. Use the holiday decorations to your advantage by highlighting your home’s natural feel, making it more inviting.
Do Everything Possible to Market Your Home
A common misconception is that no one is looking on-line for new listings at this time of the year. With technology today, home buying has become easier, and more of a year-round activity than ever before. Take as many pictures as possible (try to have a few from the spring/summer as well); and be sure to add a video tour. The more a buyer can see of your home online greatly improves the traffic at the open house. And do have an open house – it’s the best way to get some visibility for your home and can accommodate more potential buyers at one time – a bonus during this hectic season.
There’s Just Less Competition
It’s simple math: by listing your home in the slower pre-holiday months, you’re up against less competition. The serious buyers who are out looking will have a chance to really see your home, and not get caught up in bidding wars with other anxious buyers. That said, don’t make the mistake of pricing your home too high due to the lack of rival listings. This isn’t the time to gradually lower the price – take advantage and price your home right from the start. You don’t want it sitting until January when there are a slew of other new listings coming on the market.
Selling your home during this magical season is a great idea if you can make it happen; and it may actually work out better than you had ever imagined. However, you do have to time it just right, and have the support of a veteran broker who can help spread the word to potential buyers. It you follow this advice, you’re likely to have a lot more to celebrate than the arrival of a new year.