Selling Your Home During the Holidays

The holiday season (November through January) can be a surprisingly smart time to sell a house. There’s less competition than in spring and summer, fewer homes are actively marketed, and off-season homebuyers tend to be extremely motivated.

Not surprisingly, though, there are challenges. Schedules are crazy, weather is iffy, and budgets are tight. Here are 10 tips for successfully selling your home during the holidays.

1. Choose a real estate agent who will go above and beyond.

This means finding someone who is willing and able to be flexible in order to accommodate busy schedules, and who won’t be difficult to reach during the holiday season.

2. Be accessible.

Everyone is busy at holiday time, which makes it difficult to schedule showings. You may need to limit your holiday activities and travel plans in order to accommodate potential buyers. Keep as many days on your schedule open as possible, and keep your agent in the loop about your availability.

3. Make it easy to “visit” your home online.

Frigid temperatures, snowy roads, and holiday travel plans make for fewer showings. People are more likely to stay in and do their initial house hunting online.

Provide multiple high-quality interior and exterior photos of your home. Since winter weather can be dreary, include spring and summer shots if you have them so buyers can see how your house looks year-round.

Consider a video tour or 360 video. Potential buyers can tour your home without having to venture out into the cold.

4. Follow basic home staging tips.

This includes de-cluttering your home, removing personal items, cleaning thoroughly inside and out, and completing any pending home improvement projects.

5. Deck the halls, but not with TOO much holly.

A cozy, festive atmosphere can have potential buyers dreaming of holidays spent in the home. That’s a huge advantage of selling during this season.

However, take care not to overdo the holiday cheer. Too many flashing lights and glittery garlands can distract buyers, and too many decorations can make rooms feel cluttered and crowded. Keep the snowman collection and family keepsakes packed away (think of it as a head start on moving) and opt instead for a few holiday touches that complement your room colors.

If you have a tree, make sure it isn’t so large that it overwhelms the room. Decorate it simply, with a harmonious color scheme: crisp bows, understated white or tinsel lights, and solid-color glass ball ornaments are all good choices.

It may be difficult to keep family favorite ornaments and decorations packed away. Just imagine celebrating in your new home next year, where you can get back to decorating any way you like.

6. Make your home warm and cozy at showing times.

When it’s freezing cold outside, there’s nothing more inviting than a toasty warm room. Holiday goodies, like homemade gingerbread cookies or a pot of spiced cider simmering on the stove, will help potential buyers feel welcome. They also send out a subtle but appealing aroma that adds to the homelike atmosphere.

7. Go easy on the outdoor decorations.

You may be famous in the neighborhood for your synchronized light show and row of towering inflatables, but these decorations may not appeal as much to a potential buyer. You also risk blocking the view and making the yard look cluttered.

If you do want to put up lights, use them to illuminate the positives, such as your home’s architectural lines or the beautiful trees in your front yard.

8. Be vigilant about exterior maintenance.

Keep leaves raked and gutters clean. If you live in a wintry climate, make sure driveways, walkways and steps are kept clear of snow and ice to avoid slips and falls. Frequent outdoor maintenance will also help prevent debris and dirty slush from being tracked inside onto your flooring.

9. Try to remove potential barriers to a sale.

Most holiday homebuyers are on a mission. Whether they’re buying a home for tax reasons before the end of the year, or need to relocate quickly for a new job, they want to seal the deal ASAP. That means that even if they love your house, they may go elsewhere if they can move in sooner.

How can you help prevent this? Don’t put off repairs or maintenance that you know need to be done. Even if they aren’t obvious during the showing, they’ll come up in the inspection, and having to wait may put off time-crunched buyers.

It’s also important to price your home competitively. Of course you want to make a profit, but it’s not the time to set an unrealistically high price and try to negotiate back and forth for weeks.

10. Take steps to manage stress.

It may be the “most wonderful time of the year,” but it’s no secret that the holidays are also a stressful time for many. Add on trying to sell a house, and you can easily become frazzled or overwhelmed.

Give yourself permission to ask for help and to let some things go. Maybe that means that you arrange with family to do a gift exchange instead of buying for everyone. Maybe someone else can host the big holiday dinners this year, or you eat out or have a less elaborate meal. Maybe you hire someone to do some of the repairs on the house instead of doing them yourself, to cut down on your burden.

With these 10 tips, you can keep up your holiday spirit while helping homebuyers find their dream house...yours!

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