The end of the year is not just about shopping, family gatherings and holiday parties – many people use the time off to move before the New Year. While conventional wisdom may tell you that this may be too stressful a time to consider selling your home, rest assured that it may not be as difficult as you think. With fewer homes on the market, there is less competition in your neighborhood. Plus, there are a few things you can do to maximize your home’s charm, and make selling during the holidays a little easier.
- Understand your potential buyer. Buyers this time of year tend to be those who have to move, so they are serious about making a decision. Companies use the holiday months to transfer employees before starting their new job at the beginning of the year. Those employees will be anxious to move and get settled before their first day of work. And while families with young children tend to move during the summer, there’s a greater chance that those who are house-shopping this time of year are serious and will be willing to buy now. Furthermore, investors tend to want to close before the end of the year for tax purposes.
- Increase curb appeal. First impressions are critical. Remove any late fall leaves, and ensure the path to the stairs is free of ice. Put up a few exterior holiday lights and decorations to display seasonal tidings and pride in ownership, but be careful not to overdo the lighting. Keep it tasteful and consistent with the rest of the neighborhood. A holiday welcome mat outside the front door is also an inviting touch. If the home is in a snowy area, make sure to clear the walkways and driveway.
- Keep the house warm and welcoming. November, December and January can be cold, so make sure the home is warm and cozy. You may like to bundle up in blankets to save on heating costs, but consider running your central heating system while potential buyers are touring. Not only will it feel more comfortable, but they will get an idea of how well the system works. If the house has a fireplace, light a fire to bring the room to life and enhance the ambience. It will also bring attention to the fireplace itself, which is a feature that many buyers find attractive. But make sure that you, your Realtor, or someone capable will be there to tend to it at all times.
- Decorate the interior. There is a thin line between tasteful décor and a room that looks like one of those temporary holiday stores at the mall. It is important not to overwhelm home shoppers with dramatic displays of holiday cheer. Be conservative with holiday decorations and decorate to accentuate the house, not to cover it. This is not the time to put up an oversized, tinsel-covered tree. Tasteful decorations will help connect buyers to the home, remind them of pleasant memories and help them imagine their own holiday celebrations there.
- Remove the lock box. On a more practical note, if you are entertaining or having relatives stay with you during the holidays, talk to your REALTOR® about removing the lock box except during designated appointment times. The Multiple Listing Service information may need to be changed to let sales associates know that there is a temporary showing procedure that requires buyers’ sales associates to call in advance for an appointment. It is best if the house is not shown when entertaining family and friends.
- Stay in touch with your Realtor. Like most professionals, sales associates like to take time off during the holidays to spend with their families. Communicate with your agent as early as possible about any prospective vacations he or she may be taking and how much time can reasonably be spent on trying to sell your home. Work together on a schedule for open houses and showings that accommodates both of your plans for holiday parties, get-togethers and out-of-town visitors.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year filled with excitement and cheer. It’s also a time to make new memories. As you begin looking toward the future and preparing to move into your new home, be sure to keep your potential buyers in mind. Show them all the wonderful features of your home that make it the perfect place for them to celebrate future holidays with their families. With a little extra care and just the right touches, both you and your buyers may be watching the ball drop on 2011 from the comfort of the sofa in your new living room.