Conventional wisdom states selling a home during the holiday season — that period from Thanksgiving week to New Year’s day — is a bad financial decision. (And one that should be avoided, if possible.)
But conventional wisdom is just that, conventional. And while the famous Latin proverb “Fortune favors the bold” may not have been written about real estate — though one can’t be entirely sure — the sentiment still holds true when it comes to the selling of property during the holidays.
By being bold, and going against conventional wisdom — by selling a home during the cold, winter months of the holidays — you can unearth lucrative opportunities that would be difficult to find the rest of the year. (And perhaps secure a tidy profit for yourself before that first turkey goes in the oven.)
So, whether you’re a real estate investor or a homeowner looking to upgrade your current domicile, here are five keys to consider before plunging ahead with the sale of a home during the holidays.
Why Selling a Home During the Holidays Can Be Good Business
1.Lack of competition
Most people know spring and summer are traditionally the most popular seasons for home buying (and home browsing). Temperate weather, longer days — and the desire for buyers to be in a new home before “BBQ season” — provides serious “juice” to the real estate market.
The common belief, for years, has been that listing a home in the spring and summer will ensure the “most fish” for the bait you set. But it’s important to remember, during the milder weather, you aren’t the only “fisherman” out there.
In the spring and summer, there are more homes being listed, giving potential buyers the license to be picky and take their time with a listing. In addition, with so many houses available, this requires more effort and strategizing to make a property stand out.
What the holiday season offers is the chance to emerge as the best (if not only) good option out there. One of the cornerstones to mastering how to sell a home is initiating enough interest for consumers to take the first step. Less competition goes a long way towards stacking the deck; people house hunting during the holidays want to make a purchase sooner rather than later.
With less options to choose from — and a cheerier, more pleasant time of year serving as the backdrop — the advantage often goes to the one bold enough to sell a house during this unexpected time.
2. Winter sales are often quick (and profitable)
If you were afraid the frostier weather might adversely affect the housing market, you can breathe easy. According to a 2013 study by Redfin, the chance of selling a home in the winter held steady at 65% — higher than any other time of year.
On top of that, homes sold from December 21st to March 21st actually went off the market closest to the original asking price, and spent the lowest number of days on the market. The fall, where Thanksgiving fits in, sees those numbers drop a little, down from 65% to 57% with an average of 34 days on the market. But as a property moves toward spring, according to the study, the potential for a solid, financial gain from a home sale remains steady.
This doesn’t mean selling a home during the holidays is a guaranteed boon to your coffers. (Far from it.) But it does mean much of the fear and uncertainty around selling a property during this time — whether for investing or accommodation purposes — should not be a deterrent to you exploring all your home selling options.
3. Flexible schedules
Most Americans take a majority of their paid (and unpaid) vacation days between the week before Thanksgiving and the arrival of Christmas. While this period of time can be hectic and busy — there’s all that turkey to eat and football to watch — there’s still quite a bit of downtime for most folks during the holidays.
This can serve dual purposes. It can offer you an opportunity to perform upgrades on a property you might not normally have time for. You’ll have the flexibility to clean and maintain a property, not to mention stage the home in a more festive and pleasing manner which can often add healthy margins to your final sale price.
More importantly, this sudden influx of “free time” gives would-be homebuyers the chance to peruse your property beyond “usual” viewing times. Instead of waiting for weekends to display a property, or after work, you can set showings during the week — the day after Thanksgiving is a popular choice — which means more eyes and more opportunities for someone to make an offer.
4. Leverage the holiday spirit
As the old sales axiom goes: “People buy on emotion, and back up with logic.” And there may be no more powerful emotional pull than the feelings associated with winter holidays.
From the music to the lights to time spent with family — to that inflatable snowman that seems to crop up in ever neighborhood — the holidays are imbued with symbolism and imagery that many of us respond to powerfully, if unconsciously.
And it’s not only residential neighborhoods that get in on the act; many cities go “all out” to provide a festive ambience downtown, in parks, and in locales frequented by residents. So why not tap into this powerful emotional tone-setter and use it to sell your existing property?
As anyone who’s bought (or sold) a property will tell you: emotion is a big part of the transaction. Sure, the numbers have to match; but so do those sub-conscious, emotional factors that many homebuyers aren’t even aware of.
By aligning your property with an existing holiday motif — which can often be done in a matter of a few hours — you can ensure your property makes a great first impression. (And increases your chances of making a deal much to your liking.)
5. A New Year means new jobs and people on the move
The end of the year is not just for shopping-mall excursions and too many servings of pumpkin pie. It’s also when many businesses throughout the US offer positions to new employees. (In the hopes they can have their “new team” set up for the new year.)
For example, according to the Bureau of Labor in January of 2015, last January non-farming employment saw an increase of approximately 151,000 jobs in the US. (In many cases, these were jobs in which the employee relocated.)
And if there’s one sector of holiday home buyers who are highly motivated, it’s the individual and/or family relocating due to a new job. The good news: job relocation buyers want an expedited closing process. The bad news: job relocation buyers want an expedited closing process.
So, if you’ve got your ducks in a row — and you’re ready to move on from a property, quickly — then tapping into this powerful, psychological motivator to sell your house can be a lucrative way to go.
The Decision is Yours
The best home selling tips are not mandates, but guidelines; and this is equally true of selling a home during the holidays.
There’s no question shorter days, colder weather, and a diminished amount of home buyers can make the prospect of selling a property during the holiday months a challenge. But sometimes great opportunities can be found where others see a challenge. And while a majority of people take a step back from the real estate market during the holiday months, you may find when the temperature drops, your potential for a great real estate deal starts to rise.