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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Listing Your Home for Sale During the Holiday Season

[Published Nov. 20, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]

It is “conventional wisdom” that December is not a good time to try to sell a home.  True, most people are preparing for the holidays, have full social calendars, and are shopping — but not for their next home.

This fact begs the question of whether your home is likely to sell and weighing that prospect against the inconvenience of disrupting your own holiday season to make it available for showings.

Working in favor of listing your home is the fact that the number of active listings which would compete with your home for buyers is so small.  Shown below, courtesy of REcolorado, our local MLS, are charts displaying by month the numbers of sold and active residential listings for Jefferson County over the past five years.

Notice the dramatic change over past Decembers of the ratio of active listings to the number of sales.  Last December, for example, there were 700 sales and 1,370 active listings — a ratio of less than 1:2.  The previous December, there were 608 sales and 3,226 active listings, a ratio of about 1:5.  The year before, it was 1:9.  The year before that, it was about 1:12. 

November statistics aren’t available yet, of course, but I did an MLS search, and the number of active Jeffco listings as of Nov. 18th is 1,105, and there have been 459 closings of Jeffco properties so far this month.  
There are another 670 listings that have been under contract since before Nov. 1st, and are likely to close between now and the end of the year, so one can guess that the number of sold listings will be higher than previous years for November and December.

I’m not going out on a limb to suggest that the ratio this December will again be less than 1:2.  This tells me that if you are thinking of putting your home on the market this holiday season and if you price it right, it will probably sell quickly. Moreover, because of continued low inventory and high buyer activity, your home will likely sell near or above asking price with multiple offers.  The key is pricing your home right, as I have written numerous times, and not pricing it at a wished-for price that isn’t justified by comparable sales. 

My strategy is always to price the home at or just below what comparable sales support and “let the bidding begin.”  Time after time I see other listings going on the market at 5-10% above what comparable sales can support, and those are the listings that sit on the market the longest and even expire without selling, while the properly priced homes are selling for that 5 to 10% premium because of multiple offers. 

The above paragraphs address the likelihood of your home selling if you choose to put it on the market despite how disruptive it could be to your own holiday plans. What are the other pros and cons of doing so?

At other times of the year, it is recommended by home staging professionals that you remove any religious icons along with personal photos and taxidermy.  However, I believe that if you celebrate one of the religious holidays in December and like to decorate your house accordingly, go ahead and do so as festively as you like — but not enough to be featured on 9News at 10!

Another problem you’ll encounter is buyers tracking snow and dirt into your home, but you can expect showing agents to honor instructions to remove shoes and/or use paper booties which you or your agent can buy at Home Depot or online.

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