How to Sell Your Home During the Holidays
As soon as October draws to a close, many sellers will take their houses off the market for the holidays. Buyers also tend to take a seasonal pause. Historically, the slowest stretch for home sales is November through February before sales pick up again in March. But, if you need to sell your home right away—for a job relocation, for example—there are some encouraging factors. Buyers who stick around during the winter tend to be very serious and ready to commit. There also are not as many homes on the market to compete against. Here, USA Today offers tips for making a warm impression during these colder months.
Get The Best Photos
Although it’s winter, you don’t want the outside pictures of your home to look barren because buyers won’t see a well-landscaped lawn. Plan ahead and take exterior pictures before the leaves fall, even if it’s a month or two before you actually list the house. If you have a swimming pool or hot tub, find an old picture that shows the feature during the summertime.
Maintain The Outside
Keep up with lawn maintenance, even if it’s not growing season. Rake dead leaves, and edge and weed if necessary. Trim hardy evergreens if they get too unwieldy. Add new mulch to any landscaped beds. Make sure driveways and walkways are well-lit because there is less daylight during the winter.
Cozy Up Inside
Buyers will spend more time on the inside when it’s cold outside, so make sure they’re comfortable. Set the temperature between 68 and 70 degrees. Address any drafts from windows or doors before having an open house. Good lighting also is key at this time of year when it gets dark earlier, so don’t skimp on lighting. Replace tired table lamps and chandeliers with updated models. Use higher wattage bulbs to bathe the house in light. Make sure windows are cleaned to maximize sunlight. Enhance the coziness of your house with the smell of freshly baked cookies, serve hot apple cider or hot chocolate for guests, and turn on any gas fireplaces for added ambience.
You can still decorate for the holidays, but keep it muted. Use reds, winter white, silver and clear blue decorations along with natural elements such as pine cones and evergreen branches to celebrate the season without going over the top with kitschy themes. Add a splash of color on the outside with an elegant wreath, which will keep your home from looking drab in these gray months. Think seasonal; you don’t want your listing pictures to have out-of-season décor in January, signaling that your house has been on the market for a while.
• Price It Right
Be realistic about the market conditions in your area, especially if buying activity cooled off even before the weather did. Price competitively and be open to buyer incentives, such as funding a home repair or offering money toward closing costs to make a deal.
• Vacant Homes
If you have already moved to another location, make sure to winterize your home before showing it. That means hiring a plumber to blow out pipes and put antifreeze in them. If the furnace goes out and the water pipes freeze, then you’ll have a big problem.
• House size
The market for condos, townhomes and smaller, entry-level homes doesn’t wane nearly as much in the winter than for larger homes. People often get engaged during the holidays, so these couples often start looking for a home in the winter. For larger homes with four-bedrooms, you might want to wait until after Feb. 1 to put your home on the market.
• All homes
No matter when you sell your home, make it look its best. Have your home professionally cleaned and repainted with current colors. Declutter throughout, and organize closets and pantries to highlight ample storage. Limit the amount of furniture to improve walkability and showcase space.