Among the many myths we always hear in real estate, one of the biggest whoppers is that Christmas is the worst time to sell one’s home. We suppose this misconception comes from the fact that spring and summer are when most folks sell their houses, but we’re here to tell you why the holidays are a great time to sell too. We know you’ve heard the 12 Days of Christmas – these are the 12 reasons why Christmas is the best season to sell your house.
1. More money for your home.
Because more people sell their homes during the warmer months, everyone tends to assume that you can get more money for your house in July than in December. But surprisingly, all the available data shows this to be dead wrong. A combination of fewer homes on the market and more highly motivated buyers means demand for houses actually rises in the dead of winter, meaning you can actually get more money for your house.
A study from Redfin confirms: they analyzed more than a million homes sold between 2011 and 2013. They found that “houses listed from Dec. 21 through March 21 had a 9% greater chance of selling within 180 days closer to the asking price vs. homes put on the market from March 22 through June 21, and a 10% greater chance of selling against homes listed from June 22 through Sept. 20. So, just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea: you’ll get more money for your house if you go against the herd.
2. Buyers are very motivated
As stated above, there may be fewer buyers during the winter months, but what they lack in numbers they make up for in motivation (Motivated is a polite sounding real estate euphemism for desperate.) Someone who’s willing to add on to the stress of the holidays with a big undertaking like buying a house is bound to have a very important reason, and it’s likely very time sensitive. If you live in Massachusetts and you took a job in Poughkeepsie that starts in January, you’re going to be pretty keen to buy a house in December.
3. Don’t listen to the “experts”, decorate your home to your taste.
The standard industry wisdom is that it’s harder to sell your house during the holidays because the buyer might be put off by religious imagery or your taste in decorating. We find that awfully hard to believe. Who’s going to turn down a house just because of some tinsel? If anything, your home will look the most presentable during the holidays because you’ve spent so much time making it look presentable for your in-laws. Even if you have a nativity scene or other faith-specific decor, it’s not gonna be a dealbreaker for anybody, it can only be an asset. The only thing to avoid is that creepy elf on a shelf, put that away!
4. Bad weather is your best friend.
More discerning buyers, private investors in particular, love the wintertime for judging the quality of a house. You can talk up and down during the summer about how weatherproof your home is and how great the insulation is, but the winter is when the rubber really hits the road. Snow and cold expose a house’s worst weaknesses, any little sliver or crack is going to be all the more obvious. So if your house can pass the test, buyers can rest assured that your house is rock solid.
5. Less sellers to compete with.
We touched on this in #1, but keep in mind that you’re better positioned to sell your home when you have fewer sellers to compete with. If everyone else is making the decision to take their houses off the market during the holidays, that means supply is low, meaning demand will be high. This means your home has a great chance of standing out, and you won’t be fighting for attention against other hopeful home sellers.
6. People are convinced by emotion.
Imagine you’re a buyer, and you drive through the sleet and cold to visit a house in late December. You get out of your car and brave the freezing cold to knock on the door of the house. When the seller opens the door, a burst of warm air and the smell of fresh baked cookies washes over you. You walk inside to see a warmly decorated house in the throes of holiday cheer. Wouldn’t that affect you on an emotional level more than a bare, sanitized house in the middle of July? That’s why winter is the time a house can really shine; because that’s the season your house is really a home.
7. Americans move a lot more frequently than they used to.
The common advice about selling during the holidays is, frankly, based on assumptions from a long time ago. This was back when people would stay in the same place for decades, usually working one or two jobs for their whole life. That simply isn’t how Americans are anymore. Companies are constantly relocating, so this puts their employees in a pickle: if their job starts in January, they’d better find a house to buy, quickly!
8. Searches for homes online are at their highest during the holidays.
Buyers may not be as inclined to actually move during Christmas and New Years, but they are definitely searching for houses online. In fact, Google searches for “Buy a House” reach their peak in late December/early January, catapulting past earlier months. So why would you take your house off listings at the best time? People may not visit your house in person quite as much as during warmer months, but they’re certainly Googling it. If you’re not listed online, you’ll never get seen. So we recommend you keep it up and see what happens.
9. Time Off
The so-called “common knowledge” is that people are too busy during the holidays to showcase their house But where’s the logic in that? Most workplaces are beginning to slow down during the holidays, so as long as you’ve done all your holiday shopping ahead of time, you should have even more time to show off your house.
10. There’s no time like the present
Particularly if you are going with a traditional listing, we recommend you forget the common advice not to list your house during the winter months. You can never really predict what changes may come in politics, the federal interest rate, or home prices. Are you really going to put off listing your home for a whole month or more just so that you don’t have to make your house presentable during the holidays? Your house should already be presentable, after all, it’s the holidays!
11. International buyers will make seasonal distinctions obsolete
Over the past few years, with the recovery of the U.S real estate market and with increased market globalization, house buyers from all around the globe have started to look to the U.S to buy homes. This is great news for you, because they don’t observe all the same holidays. The Chinese New Year is in late January, Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas, and nobody but us celebrates Thanksgiving, so as this trend continues, the less you’ll have to worry about selling in December.
12. Your house is already decorated!
When you think about it, if you sell your house during December, you’re killing two partridges with one stone: you can stage your home for the holidays and for potential buyers at the same time. Imagine doing all the work required to decorate for Christmas, only to turn around and have to do it all over again for buyers in February. Why not take advantage of the decor you already have up and make the most of it?
So there you have it! Don’t listen to the Scrooges out there saying you can’t sell your house in December. Do what’s right for you, and remember what’s important this holiday season.
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