Just because it’s chilly in much of the U.S. does not mean buyers need to put their house hunt on hold for the holidays. With days off work coming, some shoppers may even increase their tours. That means home sellers need to be ready for impromptu showings during the season.
Sure, about one-third fewer homes are sold in the months of November through February compared to the peak season of May through August, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®. But home sales still happen, and buyers may be more eager. Mortgage rates are low, and a new study from ATTOM Data Solutions just showed that buyers may find the best bargains in a home purchase on Dec. 26, Dec. 31, and Dec. 4 (in that order).
Real estate pro Don Bush with HER REALTORS® Worthington in Columbus, Ohio, says the holidays can prove a busy time of year for buyer traffic. “One of the busiest open houses I ever had was on a New Year’s Day—70 people must have gone through the house that day,” Bush told The Columbus Dispatch.
Ken Wightman, a real estate pro of Berkshire Hathaway American Realty Center in Columbus, says that home sellers shouldn’t be discouraged listing in the winter and be ready for serious buyers. “Sure, it’s not as convenient for sellers to open their house during the holidays and have people tracking in bad weather,” Wightman told The Columbus Dispatch. “But the buyers out looking for houses now are serious—and I underscore ‘serious.’ So you might have fewer showings during the holidays, but more meaningful showings.”
Sellers are busy and may dread having to do showings. Also, decorating for the holidays can be tough if you’re trying to sell. Real estate and staging pros are mixed on whether you should decorate.
“Sometimes the right holiday decor can make the house look more welcoming, but you don’t want to go over the top,” says Jan Jedlinsky with Metro II Realty in Columbus.
Also, not everyone celebrates the same holidays. “The goal is always to be as neutral as possible,” she adds.
Curb appeal still needs to be a priority, especially during gloomier months. “Bare trees equal a more exposed home, so touch up the paint, clean the gutters and spruce up the yard,” according to FrontDoor. “Keep buyers’ safety in mind as well by making sure stairs and walkways are free of snow, ice, and leaves.” If possible, have pictures of the exterior from the summer or spring to show, too.
Make it cozy inside. Crank up the heat, play soft classical music, and offer up holiday treats, stagers suggest.
Source: “Home Sales Tricky, But Doable During Holidays, REALTORS® Say,” Columbus Dispatch (11/24/2019) and “Top 10 Tips for Sellign Your Home During the Holidays,” HGTV (2019)