Home for the Holidays: Selling a Home During the Christmas Season

By shaye • June 29th, 2010

Selling your home during the holidays can be a real grind, but could result in a surprisingly quick sale. Here’s an overview of selling during the holidays, the pros and cons and whether it’s worth it for you.

Christmas is not a popular time for house hunting; most people go house shopping in the spring, when the weather is nicer and more people put their houses up for sale. However, those people out hunting during the holiday season usually have a good reason. Serious buyers during the holiday season are more likely to be looking for a house quickly. They may buy your home with a minimum of haggling in order to get moved in before the holidays are over.

However, there are some cons to selling during the Christmas season. Many serious buyers wait until after the holiday season to start house hunting. The customs and vacations attendant upon the holidays means that people will be vacationing, which could meant that your agent will be unavailable for a period of time. Prospective buyers may think that *you* are eager to sell, and price their offers accordingly. If you are celebrating the holidays at your home, you might find that it is inconvenient to have the house sparkling clean at all times and to have to shoo everyone out of the house at an hour’s notice.

If you want to try selling during the holiday season, here are a few tips:

The power of the nose is underestimated by many people. Smell is the first sense we develop and is deeply associated with food and emotion. A bad smell may not affect your buyers consciously, but unconsciously, they’re thinking. “Ew. Maybe there’s a corpse in the basement or the walls are molding away.” A clean smell is great, as it does not cause negative reactions from most buyers. However, for Christmas, it may pay off to stage your home so that your buyers can imagine their Christmas happening here.

When you clean your home and stage it for buyers, try choosing natural-based citrus and pine scented cleaners. These should just leave a hint of their scent behind . If you can bake cookies and cakes (bake, don’t burn!), do it in the morning before you leave for the house tour; it will give the house a holiday smell. Also, a pot of apple cider that has been heated on the stove lends a delightfully spicy, Christmasy smell.

Go the extra mile and leave some of those cookies and cider or hot chocolate out for your buyers. They might not remember the moldings, but they will remember free food and drink!

Decorate conservatively, but do decorate; it blends your house in with your neighbors’ houses and looks more homey. Several strands of Christmas lights and a wreath on the door are enough to make your house sparkle. Keep banners and large yard displays packed up this year. Get a smaller tree than you normally would if your living room is small; it will make the space look larger. Keep the kids’ ornaments off the tree when buyers are around and try for a more uniform look this year with classic Christmas ornaments and a light hand on the tinsel. It is recommended that you shut your family’s presents away, but since they look good under the tree, wrap a few fake presents to provide a nice effect.

Make sure that your sidewalk and pathway to the house are scraped and salted. Nothing turns off a buyer faster than falling on the ice; it is not only a negative connotation regarding the safety of your home, you could also get sued if you knew these people were coming and didn’t bestir yourself to ensure their safety. Trim back any branches and make sure no roof icicles or snow threaten to fall on your buyers’ heads. A nice Christmas-theme welcome mat can minimize snow and dirt from being tracked through the house.

If you plan on entertaining during the holidays and/or want to have a family dinner at your home, create a schedule for entertaining and make sure that everyone invited to your events knows the right time and date. This will give you a better idea of when you can schedule home showings. Let your agent know ahead of time the times and dates the house will be unavailable for showing. Even better is the plan to have Christmas at someone else’s house!

With some extra thought to decorating and scheduling, you can certainly pull off house selling on the holidays. However, stop and think whether you really want to – it may be easier to pause for a short time while holiday celebrations are going on and then start anew in January.

Joshua Sloan is an experienced Rancho Bernardo real estate agent. Visit his site at SanDiegoRealEstateBuzz.com for help finding new San Diego County homes for sale.


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