Six Tips on Selling Your House During the Holidays

by Steve CookNovember 20, 2017

Not so long ago, selling a house during the holidays was to be avoided at all costs. Who wants to look at houses when everyone is busy with parties and family? Buyers and sellers were advised to wait until spring.
Modern home in a snowy setting with a conifer in the foreground.
With the advent of online listings, home sales have become less seasonal; buyers can narrow their choices quickly. In December 2016, sales fell only 1.8 percent from November, and sales would have been better if more homes were on the market. However, many of the homes that sold that month had been lingering on the market longer than homes sold in November. Sellers whose listings were aging were eager to close before the end of the year.

December is a reality check month for buyers as well as sellers. Despite a smaller selection of homes on the market, there are also fewer buyers. Some agents think that December is the best month to buy or sell, even in hot markets, because sellers are super-motivated and buyers want to move in before snowstorm season.

The rules are a little different for selling in the holiday season. Here are six tips to get your house sold before Santa comes down your chimney.

Price it Right or Pay the Consequences

The holiday sales season is a little shorter than it looks on the calendar. You don’t have time to negotiate with buyers. Set your price at the lowest amount you can because you will attract more buyers. Being strategic about your pricing will communicate to buyers that you know the worth of your home and that you are truly ready to have it sold. Don’t price your listing too low or buyers will think there’s something wrong. A listing priced too high will be overlooked. Find a happy medium and go a little lower for the benefit of the buyer.

Take New Photos for Your Listing

Leafless trees will improve your curb appeal because your house will be more visible from the street. Take new photos to show your home at its best. Make sure your yard and drive are cleared of leaves, branches, and dead flowers, light a fire in the fireplace, and add some tasteful winter-inspired decor on the mantel. Simple fixes like changing lights and de-cluttering can give your home warmth to attract buyers.

Beautiful staged kitchen room in a modern house.

Keep Holiday Decorating a Bare Minimum

It’s not that buyers are scrooges — they came to see your house and imagine how it will look like with their furniture and pictures on the walls, not yours. Also be sensitive to cultural differences and religious traditions over the holidays. Stick the minimum: a wreath on the door and a small tree in the living room. Make this the year you forego the annual competition with your neighbors for the brightest lights or biggest blow-up Santa.

Communicate Coziness

A fire in the fireplace, a plate of cookies and the smell of hot mulled cider will add a touch of warmth on a cold day. Also, consider adding a simple decorative throw on the sofa and other small hacks to give your space a cozy feel.

Beautiful holiday decorated room with Christmas tree, fireplace and armchair with blanket.

Don’t let selling your house ruin your holiday

Determine blackout days and visiting hours when your home won’t be available for visiting in advance. Make sure your agent knows so that they can notify buyers’ agents.

Time is Precious

If you get a contract by mid-December, finding closing attorneys and lenders who are available during the final two weeks of the year could be a problem. Make sure in advance that your agent will be available. Don’t waste time with bottom-feeder buyers who want to bargain forever. Do your very best to check out the financial standing of each buyer. Look for larger down payments, pre-approvals, and buyers with steady jobs, little debt, and good credit. You won’t have time to sell your house again if your buyer’s financing falls through.

Good luck! Selling a home over the holidays can be nerve-wracking, but it is a time of the year when many houses that have been lingering on the market receive contracts.

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About The Author
Steve Cook
Steve Cook is editor and co-publisher of Real Estate Economy Watch. He is a member of the board of the National Association of Real Estate Editors and writes for several leading Web sites, including Inman News. From 1999 to 2007 he was vice president for public affairs at the National Association of Realtors.