Anyone thinking of selling their home in December inevitably wrestles with the decision. “Is it all right to go ahead and list my house now,” they ask, “or would it be wiser to wait till all the holiday madness is over?”
Many real estate agents counsel their clients to wait. Their reasons are understandable; December is, after all, the busiest month on the calendar. The thinking is that with all the hurry and scurry and hustle and bustle and shopping and spending, buyers won’t have the time or energy to focus on the house-hunt.
But the fact is, there are always buyers out looking for houses. People relocate. People downsize. People decide they can’t live for one more minute in their too-tiny home. So the market will never lack for buyers — not even during December. And this time of year offers a few benefits that outweigh the short list of concerns. Here are just a few reasons for listing or keeping your home on the market during the holidays:
Reduction in inventory means less competition for your house. Unlike the spring-into-summer season, when the market ramps up and there’s a big spike in inventory, the market winds down during December and January. With fewer homes for sale, yours has a better chance of shining.
December buyers are motivated buyers. Anyone willing to trudge through rain or snow or slush to look at houses is serious about buying. That means that if you do your part (and your part is setting a competitive price and making sure your home is in top condition), you will likely get the attention of those serious-minded buyers.
You’ve already done a lot of the work. There’s probably not another time of the year when your house looks more festive, so why not get some mileage out of the decorations you’ve put up? When my daughter was young, she always told me our house was “magical” during the holidays. That’s not a bad effect when you’re trying to put your best foot forward. So how do you make your home shine during this slower home-buying season?
—Skip the inflatable penguins. Enough said.
—Keep it simple. When I was growing up, everyone had the same Christmas lights in the same five colors: red, green, blue, orange and white. They were big and blisteringly hot — and we put them on our trees. it’s really amazing that any of our homes made it through unscorched. Today, you can probably buy taupe lights and chartreuse lights and flamingo pink lights. But should you? No. If your house is on the market this season, the wild lights need to stay in the attic. This is a year for white lights, which will not clash with your year-round furniture and will not distract buyers’ eyes from what they should be looking at.
—Highlight your home’s best architectural features. Every window looks beautiful framed in lights, as do porch rails, the front door and the eaves of your roof. Take a little time to dress up the front of your home, stepping back now and then to check it from the curb. Highlight the landscaping too, but remember not to overdo it.
—Switch to warm lights. Even though those bulbs may be quite small, there’s a big difference between “cool white” and “warm white.” Cool white are harsher than the warm white lights, in my opinion, and less-than-welcoming. They make me feel like I’m strapped to an uncomfortable chair with a giant “cool white” light bulb hanging over my head and a foul-breathed interrogator hunkered tortuously close to me yelling, “Where were YOU on the night of June 3rd?” Warm white lights, on the other hand, make me feel like I’m in my Grandma’s kitchen eating a fourth warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie and watching the flickering flame in her antique kerosene lamp.
And on the subject of cookies … bake a batch, and arrange them on your prettiest holiday plate with a note that says, “Please help yourself.” What says “Welcome Home” like a plate of freshly baked cookies?