By NICOLE MURRAY
The holiday season can be a tricky time of year in the real estate industry. For many agents, business slows down because people generally don’t want to sell, buy, or move during peak celebrations.
But whether it be a new job or a life update, buying and selling during the holiday season happens more than one would think.
The Mortgage Note spoke with real estate industry professionals across the country to discuss the pros and cons of listing during the holiday season and what to know if you do.
To start, there is less inventory on the market and therefore less competition for those who decide to sell.
Shant Banosian, EVP of sales at Guaranteed Rate, said inventory listings drastically decrease in the last two months of the year.
“However, demand far exceeds supply right now so sellers are not really at a disadvantage to list during the holidays,” he said.
Homeowners can also expect fewer shoppers but those who are house-hunting tend to be more serious about making a purchase.
“No one wants to pack, move, or worry about getting the kids settled at a new school at the start of the new year,” said Rob Jensen, broker/owner of the Rob Jensen Company. “If they are willing to make the move when the rest of the world is out celebrating, they are not looking to waste anyone’s time.”
Before the home is listed, it is important for agents to set expectations with sellers regarding open houses and scheduling due to the nature of the busy holiday season.
“Respect the holidays,” said Jules Zaphire, real estate professional at The Pantiga Group. He advises agents to avoid hosting events during the busiest family times and be aware that a lot of people probably won’t show up if they do.
There are mixed reviews regarding a home’s marketing and holiday decorations.
On one hand, Zaphire avoids including holiday decorations in photos because the listing will appear stale and outdated if it does not sell before the new year. In addition, keeping photos more generic can ensure a sense of inclusion.
“Keep the photos welcoming but generic so that they can appeal to anyone. You don’t want someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas to see the decor, assume that it is a neighborhood all about Christmas, and not want to even see the home because of it,” Zaphire said. “If the seller is adamant about having decorations, be prepared to quickly update the photos if the home hasn’t sold past the new year.”
On the other hand, Jensen said holiday decorations can be used to help a listing stand out.
“Have fun with things because property listings have become so checklist-oriented,” Jensen told The Mortgage Note. “Be witty with the marketing — ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the 3-bedroom, 4-bathroom house…”
“There is something warm about the holiday buzz,” adds Banosian. “Don’t go too overboard with decor but someone who does resonate with how you decorate your house could more easily picture themselves living there following the same traditions.”
In addition, Jason Perkins, president and co-founder of Bonzo, recommends using holiday decorations to appeal to shoppers’ positive emotions associated with the holiday season. Set up the house to be as homey and welcoming as possible, he said.
”I recommend telling a visual story because that is what shoppers will remember,” Perkins said. “For example, post a photo of the dining room set for dinner with candles and decorations. In the caption, set the scene of what it would be like if they were hosting… kids running around, family from all over visiting.”
Keep in mind that it does get cold and dark early during the holiday season.
Make sure the home is warm, all areas are well-lit and all bulbs properly work.
“Now is not the time to save a few bucks on electricity or gas,” explained Jensen. “If buyers have to wear a jacket when looking at the home, it is not inviting enough for people to get comfortable. People notice if they can’t properly see or the lightbulbs don’t match. Figure this stuff out before showings start.”
No matter the approach, Banosian believes it takes an experienced real estate agent who will know what it is like to sell during such a unique time of year to get the job done.
“Those with experience have had success, made mistakes, and will know what it takes to attract buyers and get that offer despite the busy season,” Banosian said.
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