There’s no doubt that more and more people who were waiting for just the right time are ready to buy a home.
From first-time buyers ready to own a home of their own to next-home buyers ready to make a move because of life changes like a new baby, growing family, empty nest, job relocation or simply a desire to be closer to family and friends.
In my family alone, I can count two homes sold (Indiana and Texas) and three homes purchased (one downsizing and one first-time in Indiana plus new construction due to job relocation in Texas) since August.
While each of these individual situations made it a good time to move, affordability was also a big motivator. Plus, those who needed to sell their homes prior to making a move were pleasantly surprised by the number of serious buyers who made offers on their property in such a short amount of time. In both cases, there were multiple offers in just two weeks, and the final selling price exceeded their expectations.
With the holidays approaching, many people considering a move put their plans on hold. After all, the stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is typically one of the slowest in real estate.
Even so, the year-end market actually offers some very unique opportunities for both buyers and sellers who find themselves in a position to take advantage of them.
For starters, thanks to the Internet, potential buyers are always looking at potential properties online.
While conventional wisdom has you thinking that the holidays are simply too hectic for home shopping – people are preoccupied with shopping for gifts, planning parties, cooking meals and preparing for guests or traveling to look at properties – the internet offers 24/7 access to listings. Believe me, potential buyers are constantly checking for updates on their computers, phones and tablets.
There’s also the fact that people looking at homes over the holidays tend to be serious buyers. If someone’s making the effort to come out and look at homes in inclement weather, there’s probably something motivating them regardless of the calendar. From job transfers starting at the beginning of the year to tax reasons, lease endings and changes in family status that require people to move suddenly, chances are they need to buy now if they are looking now.
Therefore, with a window of several weeks to get buyers into their homes before the year ends, serious sellers can reap the rewards of beating the rush of new homes coming on the market in anticipation of a feverish spring selling season next year. Along with more buyers, less competition can mean more money – basic supply and demand principles at work.
If you have a house to sell before you can make the move to a new home this holiday season, here are a few tips that will help attract motivated buyers.
Start with a family-friendly atmosphere that’s warm and elegant when you deck the halls this year.
There’s nothing like the allure of the holidays to make a home warm and inviting. You’ll want to stick with simple décor that’s festive and neutral. Winter-themed decorations, greenery, a door wreath, some lights and candles can add a special touch without going overboard.
Be sure there is plenty of light since winter can be dreary during the day. You’ll also want to light your porch, house number and walkway (which should also always be clear of snow). Displaying photographs of your home’s exterior during warmer weather months is also a nice touch that gives buyers a good sense of what they can look forward to outdoors once spring arrives.
You can also use this festive season to your advantage by setting the stage for a party. Use your best dishes and linens plus a lovely centerpiece on the table, display beautiful serving trays in the kitchen and set out some inviting snacks so buyers can imagine what it would be like to entertain in your home for themselves. You can also add pleasant holiday scents – burn a single candle on each floor, add scented soaps in the bathrooms and even bake a batch of cookies prior to a showing.
Also keep in mind that when priced properly, a home will sell any day of the year. Carefully research recent selling prices in your neighborhood and price your home aggressively from the start. Motivated sellers do their homework, and they will know if you’ve done yours. Calling a local real estate professional for a free Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) is a great place to start.