Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Pros & Cons of Putting Your Home on the Market in December

[Published Dec. 19, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section]

Is it a good idea to put your home on the market during the holidays?  The answer may surprise you.

The main reason not to market your home at this time is likely a personal one — you want to enjoy the holiday season without the distraction of allowing agents to show your home. You do more entertaining at this time of year than at other times, and you don’t want to accommodate showing requests that conflict with your family’s holiday activities.

Heaven forbid that you get an offer to buy your home with a late December closing and move!  And who is house hunting now anyway?

Those are just a few of the arguments I hear against putting a home on the market, and they probably account in part for the seasonally low number of listings at year-end.

My response to those points, however, is that you are more in control than you think. Just because an agent asks to show your home at an inopportune time doesn’t mean you have to grant the request or lose that showing  Don’t just decline the showing — give the showing agent an alternate time that is more convenient for you.

This is when it is particularly useful to have a live-action video tour of your home. Just last week I received a showing request for a time that was inconvenient for my seller. I asked the showing agent to have his client view the 10-minute video tour that totally simulates an in-person showing of the home.  (I made such a tour for my new listing posted below.)  This can produce one of two results: 1) “This home is just what my buyer is looking for,” in which case my seller is happy to grant the showing, or 2) “My buyer realizes this is not the house for them,” in which case my seller is spared a non-productive showing!  Either result is okay.

As long as you don’t fear marketing your home at this time of the year, you can use it to your advantage.  People need to buy homes year round.  The limited inventory at this time of year makes supply and demand work in your favor.

Yes, there will be fewer showings, but the flip side of that is that only serious buyers with an immediate need to buy will be looking at homes at this time of year. Isn’t it nice to think that you’ll only be accommodating showing requests for people who actually need to buy a home?

Sellers also need to remember that everything in a contract is negotiable, including dates. If you receive an offer specifying a closing date that is inconvenient for you, you can counter the date, not just the price. Better yet, if their inconvenient closing date is so important to them, use it to get a higher price. Wouldn’t you move on Christmas day if it meant you could get $20,000 more for your home? You might be able to extract a big monetary premium by not countering on the date. This is when you need a good listing agent who can assess what is a good bargaining chip to get you the best deal.

People are under the impression that there is a “buying season” in real estate. While it’s true that families with school-age children generally prefer to move when school is out, other buyers are being transferred, changing jobs, getting divorced or married, losing a job or family member or experiencing a multitude of other events which require them to buy or sell at any given time of year. 

Knowing that people need to move year round, putting your house on the market when there’s so little competition might just be the strategic thing to do.

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