It's that time of year. The two months between the first weeks of November and January are home to dozens of secular, historical, and religious occasions; some of our most cherished family traditions; and a phrase that real estate agents are all too familiar with: "Let's take the house off the market for the holidays."
It's a tempting thought. The holidays are busy for nearly everyone. The stress of keeping a house ready to show – and having to disappear for an hour or two on command – seems like more than enough reason for sellers to hit pause on their plans.
An experienced agent will tell you, though, that toughing it out is likely worth your while. "I can't even tell you the number of times I've had to convince people to stay on the market for the season – it's actually a great time of year to be selling," shares Realtor® Melissa Karaffa of William Raveis in New Milford, Connecticut. Here are a few reasons why.
Less competition makes you a hot commodity. Holidays or not, winter is usually a time when fewer houses are listed. Children are mid school year, the weather in much of North America can be unpredictable, and spring – the hottest home-selling time of year – with its warmer days, fresh greenery, and improved curb appeal, is just around the corner. Why not wait? the thinking goes. A better question might be: Why would you wait until the market's crowded with options? When your listing is active in December, you're a big fish in a much smaller pond.
Winter house hunters mean business. That isn't to say house hunters the rest of the year are just out for test drives, but think of it this way: Would you be shopping for a home during the holidays if you didn't have a compelling reason? Winter buyers tend to be motivated, leading to faster decisions. Karaffa has seen it herself, often with sellers she's persuaded to stay active. "You wouldn't believe it, but really: Christmas Eve. Ding-dong, and in come the buyers, 'We're buying a house today.' Seriously! And it's happened more than once!"
It's closing time. Speaking of faster decisions, buyers aren't the only ones making them. Since this is the "slow" time of year, your buyer's mortgage broker won't have nearly as much on their plate as they will in June, potentially cutting your time-to-close significantly.
You may even find that the season makes room for certain longstanding sellers' tips organically – the scent of holiday baking fills the air; tasteful lights can deliver a warm, cozy twinkle – and never underestimate the emotional connection between home and the holidays. A home in peak holiday mode is a shortcut to buyers picturing their own celebrations there in years to come.
If the thought of highly motivated buyers, fewer competing properties, and expedited closing times is attractive enough to override the disruption of selling through the holidays (and if you're a motivated seller yourself, it probably is!), realtor.com offers these helpful tips on decorating for the season without hurting your sale. Keeping your eyes on the prize and your house on the market could lead to a very happy new year.