I am frequently asked if the winter, and specifically the holidays, are a good time to be selling or buying a home. My answer is yes. There are several advantages to selling or buying at this time of year.
First, a home that is warm and decorated for the holidays is extremely inviting. There is such a contrast from being outside and coming in. It really makes the home embrace the buyer. However, this means that you need to make that extra effort to create this experience. Keep the house heated properly. Homes where the heat is turned down, or even left off if the house is vacant, can actually be colder inside than out. When this happens both the buyer and the Realtor will be in a hurry to leave and get warmed up back in the car. Also, turn on every light in the house and open every curtain or blind. Buyers want a house that has lots of light. Because so many of our days are gray, it is important that you create the best light possible. I have recently shown several homes to clients that were great values and in great condition, but ruled out because they gave the impression of being too dark.
Be on top of the holiday decorations. They can enhance the look of the house, but don’t over do it and allow the house to look cluttered or small because it is filled with too much stuff. Also, take them down in a timely fashion.
There are several advantages to the quality of buyers who are out looking at this time of year. While there are fewer of them, those who are looking are serious. People are busy at the holidays so a person who is taking the time to look at houses is a person who really needs to move. In addition, many corporations have fiscal years that match the calendar year. This means that they are trying to move their transferring executives before December 31st. This is a great time of year to be marketing executive quality homes. (I’d would characterize those as being homes priced at $400,000 or greater).
What about buying at this time of year? I think there are four pretty strong advantages. 1) Interest rates are historically at their lowest in the winter. As the market picks up in the spring, interest rates trend up. 2) There aren’t many buyers looking so sellers will really jump through hoops for you. You may be the only game in town and they will work very hard to sell you their home. 3) If a house looks good in the winter, it is going to be spectacular in the summer. You can really get an idea of the actual house in terms of the light it has and the condition of the property. And 4) this is the time of year when a home inspector can most easily find water issues. If the basement leaks, you’ll more likely learn about it in the winter.
It is completely understandable if you feel like you want to get the holidays behind you before selling or buying a home. But if you do need to move, you have quite a few strong reasons why this time of year can work to your advantage.