Sept. 4, 2018.
During the holidays, you might notice neighbors taking down “For Sale” signs and putting up Christmas lights instead. The holidays are typically the time when home sellers take a break — from work, from school, and from listing their properties. But keeping your house on the market during a seasonal slowdown could get the attention of more serious buyers.
6 big benefits of selling your home during the holidays
Spring is the season when most homes go on the market, prepping for the hustle and bustle of summer. Home sellers who stay on the market in the winter — or newly list their properties– can often become a hot commodity. In a 2016 Redfin analysis of over 7 million home sales by season, nearly 33 percent of homes listed in spring, with 48 percent flying off the market within 30 days and 18.7 percent selling above listing. Surprisingly, selling speed in the winter came in a close second. Though only about 24 percent of homes listed in the winter, 46.2 percent sold within 30 days with 17.5 percent of homes purchased above listing price.
Here are some of the major advantages you can expect when selling your home during the holiday season:
1. Less competition.
Last December, housing inventory fell for the 35th month in a row, according to the December Zillow Real Estate Market Report. Zillow’s home listings also dropped 10 percent in December 2017 compared to December 2016, leaving buyers with fewer options. Selling during the holidays with less inventory means less competition. You’ll be a big fish in a smaller pond and may get more nibbles before most sellers decide to list in the spring.
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2. More motivated buyers.
Right now, house-hunters probably have a good reason for looking. They may need to move quickly — and close quickly, to your advantage. Since the housing industry is slower overall during the holidays, loan officers are likely to approve and close qualified buyers faster. These serious buyers may also be more excited during the cheer of the holiday season and could be more likely to make an offer at the price you’re asking. If you happen to live in a warmer climate, even better. Summer is notoriously the “hottest” home-buying season — with June 28 being the optimal date for sellers, based on 14.7 million home sales analyzed by ATTOM Data Solutions from 2011 to 2017. But warmer weather housing markets like Phoenix and Miami are still quick-sellers in fall and winter.
3. More motivated realtors.
In the slowdown of the holidays, your realtor may have the time — and the creativity — to make your listing stand out even more. A realtor working double time to grab attention during the holidays may hand out freebies at a winter open house, put more effort into listing photos and staging, and help you price your home most effectively to leverage buyers in your price range. (You can also contact a Cornerstone loan officer for a Realtor Partner referral if you haven’t found a realtor you’re happy with.)
4. Lower interest rates.
Mortgage rates remain historically low, but they’ve been steadily rising throughout the year. Loan officers typically observe dips in interest rates from December through January, potentially reaching their lows for the year. Lower interest rates mean lower monthly mortgage payments that can entice more buyers to purchase — and can also benefit you when you sell and buy your next house.
5. End-of-year tax breaks.
Yet another benefit for buyers — and for you when you sell and purchase a new property: End-of-year home purchases give buyers the opportunity to squeeze in an important tax write-off. Changes were made under the new tax bill signed at the end of 2017, but homeowners can still deduct their mortgage interest on primary residences up to $750,000, along with combined deductions for up to $10,000 of local, state, and property taxes.
6. More time for house-hunting.
Winter breaks from school and work leave motivated buyers with time on their hands. They’ll not only be drawn to your home with that winter-wonderland-like curb appeal, twinkling Christmas lights and all, but they’ll have the free time to browse listings and attend holiday-themed open houses. As an added bonus, non-U.S. buyers who may not follow the same holiday calendar could also be looking to buy.
6 ways to tap into the holiday house-hunt and sell your home fast
Now that you know the why, the how is even more exciting. Use these tips to sell your house quickly during the holidays and start the new year in a new place:
1. Set the right price.
A good realtor who understands the slowdown in your local market can help you list your home in the most profitable yet reasonable price range. Especially hot housing markets — like those in Massachusetts, California, Washington, and even areas of South Dakota — saw plenty of bidding wars this year over the spring and summer. In comparison, holiday homebuyers are likely to get a better deal at a fair market value, provided your home is priced right.
2. Work your curb appeal.
Your realtor can help you with this, but the holidays are an excellent time to showcase what makes your home so special at face value. You can dress it up with holiday lights and a festive front door wreath, but keep your yard decor simple and moderate. Your realtor may also recommend lighting a fire or using an electric fireplace to “warm” up buyers during showings.
3. Put extra effort into your listing.
Like pricing your home right, making a great impression in your listing photos is one of the most important steps you can take. In cold-weather areas, buyers may be less likely to brave the elements, choosing only to visit their favorite properties. The National Association of Realtors’ 2017 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers found listing photos to be among the most useful home-selling features for 89 percent of buyers. Virtual tours can be even more helpful and may attract tech-savvy, highly motivated, and/or long-distance homebuyers.
4. Stay in town.
This may be the time of year to book holiday vacations and family visits, but try to stay close to the nest for now. Making yourself available will make it easier to communicate with interested buyers and quickly push along an offer to closing when you receive it.
5. Welcome house-hunters in bad weather.
If you live in colder climates, use the snow and ice to your advantage to make your home really stand out. After several days of snow, other sellers may close up shop temporarily. You can stay in the game by shoveling a neat path to your walkway and drive so that it’s easier for interested buyers to visit. You can also use the season to showcase your home’s winter-friendly features that may not be relevant in the spring and summer, like an attached garage, new furnace, working fireplace, smart thermostats, energy-efficient window upgrades, and more. Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost Vs. Value report shows that in colder areas like New England, vinyl window upgrades have up to a 75 percent ROI.
6. Give preference to prequalified buyers.
Homebuyers are more motivated during the holidays, increasing the odds that they might have already gotten prequalified through a local lender to prove they’re ready to buy. Though you don’t want to turn away interested buyers in a slower market, you can keep an eye out for prequalified buyers who mean business. Buyers who’ve gotten preapproved and have gone through the underwriting process are even better. Think about getting prequalified yourself through your lender if you really want to speed the process along and avoid mortgage delays after you sell and are ready to buy.
Get in touch with a great lender and get home in 10 days
You’re in the seller’s shoes for now, but considering that over 46 percent of homes listed in the winter sell within 30 days or less, you can soon expect the tables to turn. Connecting with a loan officer now and getting prequalified early can help you fast-track your house-hunt when you’re ready to get started. Finding a local lender with more than enough mortgage programs to meet your needs can be easy. Just download the free LoanFly app, input your info to get prequalified in 15 minutes*, and start chatting with a friendly loan officer who can walk you through your personalized mortgage experience. Once you find your new home, you could own in as few as 10 days.**
*During normal business hours.
**Timeframe not typical. Not all loans will close in 10 days.
For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.