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Q&A: Buying and Selling During the Holidays

ar132276664776847What are some of the special challenges of showing a home for sale during the holidays?

Challenges for Buyers:

  1. Most Buyers try to schedule to see 4 or 5 homes at a time to make their home search as efficient as possible. During the holidays Sellers have guests in town, holiday plans, decorating in progress and other events the make scheduling showings difficult.  The result is that it is much more difficult to schedule 4 or 5 homes in a row on any given day so it may take a few more days to see the same number of homes.
  2. Last minute showing requests will likely be denied because Sellers have a lot going on
  3. Also because of Seller’s hectic holiday schedules, some showings will get cancelled or rescheduled at the last minute
  4. It may be difficult to get a feel for the layout, flow and interior design of many homes during the holidays because of extensive decorations, large numbers of guests and their luggage, and rooms with inflatable beds converted into temporary sleeping quarters.

Challenges for Sellers

  1. Most buyers try to get their home search complete before the holidays start, so there will be fewer buyers out searching for a new home during the holiday season.  This lower demand will result in less negotiating power for sellers than they had just a few months ago.
  2. With all of the holiday house guests, parties, shopping and kids out of school it is difficult to keep your home in show ready condition.  You may have to coordinate more people than usual leaving the house for showings, and rooms such as studies or lofts that have been converted into temporary bedrooms for guests will not show as well.

 What are some do’s and don’ts of showing your home at this time?

  1. Do allow your home to be shown if at all possible.  Even if it’s not as tidy as you would like, it is better to let buyers see it than to decline a showing.  Buyers that are out looking during the holidays tend to be serious buyers.  They have a reason that they have to buy now otherwise they would be at home enjoying their holidays as well.  If you decline a showing, that buyer may not come back.  Maybe they were in from out of town, maybe that was the one day they could squeeze out to look, buyers schedules are tight this time of year as well.
  2. If you have to pick up quickly, the best places to stuff things are garages and closets.  Most buyers do not spend much time looking at either of these spaces, and they expect them to be filled with things.
  3. To cover holiday cooking odors quickly, open all of the windows in the house for about 10 minutes and then light a few holiday candles like cinnamon or fireplace smells.  Those are both strong masking scents that will not seem out of place to a buyer.
  4. Do Not assume that you can leave your house a mess for showings because, “Hey, it’s the holidays and the Buyer has to understand that we’re busy.”  There are fewer buyers out there and more competition for them, so be the house that puts its best foot forward.  Presentation matters and can strongly affect a home’s perceived value.

What else should a homeowner should know when showing their home during the holidays?

  1. The more available you make your home, the more likely it is to be shown, and the more likely you are to sell it.  This may seem like common sense but I see sellers decline showings all the time because it was not convenient.
  2. If you’re the one home in the family that is for sale, schedule dinners and holiday gatherings at another family member’s home.  This way you can keep your home clean, staged and available for showings.  When other sellers decline a showing request, your home will be right there to accommodate.
  3. Understand that you will need to be more flexible with dates and timelines if you do get a contract because the vendors that you will rely on to help you with the transaction are celebrating the holidays as well (inspectors, lenders, title companies, insurance brokers, movers, Realtors, etc).  There are also more days that title companies and banks are closed during this time of year, so delays are to be expected.
  4. Schedule your closings for the beginning/middle of the week if possible, that way if they have to be extended by a day or two you’re not having to wait through a weekend.

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