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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pros & Cons of Buying or Selling a Home During the Holiday Season

Frequently I’m asked if this time of year is a good or bad time to put a home on the market or to shop for a new home.  Having worked through 13 holiday seasons during my real estate career, I have some pros and cons that I can share with you.

The cons are fairly obvious. The weather alone would be an issue for many, not only in terms of comfort, but because buyers might track mud and snow into sellers’ homes. And sellers don’t want their family time interrupted during the holidays, when they also might do some entertaining.

These are some of the reasons that the number of homes for sale dips in the depth of winter, as shown in the top chart on this page. The dips in both charts are January and the peaks are July.  But look at the second chart, with the same pattern of peaks in July and valleys in January. The fact the former chart is falling  year-over-year and the latter chart is rising year-over-year tells the story of our “seller’s market.”  There are fewer homes to choose from, but they are selling in greater and greater numbers.

What I want you to notice is that while there are currently fewer than 10,000 active listings — falling to about 6,000 by January — there will be at least 4,000 sales in January. If you put your home on the market this winter and don’t overprice it, the chances are two out of three that it will sell. 

Compare that with the first dip in the charts, January 2011. There were about 32,000 active listings, but only 2,000 sales.  Back then, you had only a one in sixteen chance of your home being sold in January.

If you’re willing to list a home at this time of year, your home will have less competition for buyers’ attention. Fewer competing listings is better for sellers.  You can also comfort yourself in the fact that only serious buyers will displace you for a showing — fewer if any “looky-loos.” 

On the other hand, if your home has been on the market and hasn’t sold, the holidays can be a good excuse for taking a breather.  After 31 days, the “days on market” clock resets to zero. Put it on the market as a “new” listing in 2016.

What about buyers? They, too, will have less competition at this time of year, when families with children want to concentrate on the holidays. The reduced competition may compensate for the reduced selection you will have. What I suggest is to get an agent like me or one of my broker associates at Golden Real Estate to send you listings that match your search criteria, even if you’re not keen on looking at homes now. The house you’ve been waiting for might go on the market and you won’t want to miss it just because it’s Christmas-time.  A good agent will make the time to show you homes or has a colleague who can show you. (Agents who are not in a multiple-agent brokerage don’t have that flexibility.)

Published Dec. 3, 2015, in the YourHub section of the Denver Post and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers

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