Holiday Real Estate: Do's and Don'ts of Selling a Home this Holiday Season
For real estate agents, the holidays are a time when listing your clients' homes results in quicker sales and a higher likelihood of selling close to your asking price.
Wait, aren't the spring months the ideal time to list?
While spring may bring bidding wars and swaths of potential buyers, Investopedia reports that the holiday season brings "serious prospective buyers who are ready to pull the trigger." Which means it just comes down to knowing who's buying and how to reach them.
So, how can you capitalize on this newfound source of holiday cheer? Below, this holiday survival guide will walk you through the Do's and Don'ts of holiday real estate marketing to get you started.
Holiday Real Estate: Pros and Cons of Selling Over the Holidays
- Serious buyers
- Lower amount of competing sellers
- Tax benefits for buyers
- Less-busy lenders and real estate agents (for that smooth transaction)
- Harder to maintain curb appeal/cleanliness
- Fewer buyers looking
- Typically lower selling price
- Potentially fewer lenders and real estate agents available during the holiday season
If you feel that selling during the holidays is for you, continue reading for the Do's and Don'ts!
To Do's For a Successful Holiday Real Estate Listing
Buyers have changed. Many are single, no longer constrained by the school year, and aren't bound by structured schedules – even during the holidays.
More than ever, holiday buyers are motivated, researching homes online rather than in-person viewings, and ready to move... fast. The best part? Winter traditionally means they won't have as many options to choose from, so your listings will stand out.
But slim-pickings don't always equal a sale. There is some strategic real estate marketing to consider. Here are a few tips to give you the edge and get potential buyers over the line.
- DO Consider Timing - Timing is everything when it comes to real estate listings. Realtor.com used their traffic search data to identify the busiest times for real estate agents. They determined the highest volumes came on the Sunday after Christmas, just after Black Friday, throughout November leading up to Thanksgiving, and right after the New Year. Take these patterns into account when scheduling open houses and posting your real estate listings.
- DO Make a Video Tour - It's no surprise that more and more buyers are browsing online, but the winter chill, combined with the social distancing efforts due to COVID-19, makes video tours even more convenient. Video tours, or virtual tours, are a great way to get potential buyers "in the door" without requiring them to go outside.
These tours can be pre-recorded or done live with potential buyers. Shoot and edit clips together using your smartphone or have a professional touring company show you the ropes on how to live-stream your open houses. As the adage goes, you get what you pay for. If your audience demands quality, leverage that extra bit of effort.
- DO Maximize Curb Appeal - In most places, winter doesn't come with the best curb appeal. Think leafless trees, gray skies, exposed wear, and snow... lots of muddy snow. Experts at Real Estate Express recommend simple changes in order to stand out on the real estate market. Shovel that walkway, hang a door wreath, touch up the paint, and tidy the yard. Consider asking the opinion of a property manager. No matter how fast a homebuyer is ready to move, first impressions matter.
- DO Get Into the Holiday Spirit - The holidays are the perfect time to make your property cozy and charming. Stick to small touches like lighting a fireplace, incorporating a holiday table centerpiece, and playing instrumental holiday music. While offering cookies and hot chocolate might be off the table due to COVID concerns, that doesn't mean you can't help buyers feel at home.
- DO Make Forecasts Your Friend - The last thing you want after preparing for an open house is to have no one show up. Check your local weather forecasts frequently and plan accordingly. Heavy rain, wind, snow, closed roads – these can all dampen the holiday spirit and your potential sales. It's better to reschedule or push to the following weekend than hope buyers will brave a storm. If you're performing live virtual tours, use a sign-up form and create a guest list. Not only will this help with retargeting email campaigns during holiday months, but it will ensure you have an audience.
- DO Consider Pricing to Sell - Nobody wants to be seen as the Scrooge. If you're listing your home during the holiday months, you need to price to sell. While lowering your price a little at a time might work for the summer season, holiday buyers are serious and a competitive list price might be all that's needed. If you want to learn how to attract customers or potential buyers, see what your competitors are doing. Find the number that makes sense for your seller ahead of time and commit to it.
Holiday Bonus: Extra Incentives for End-of-Year Buyers
What follows the holiday season? Tax season. This is a bonus reason of cheer for November and December home buyers. Make sure your potential buyers know that a home purchase in winter can mean qualifying for some major tax breaks that a spring or summer purchase wouldn't afford. Benefits can include home-purchasing deductions for points, interest, and property taxes.
That's not all. Certain buyers who sold their previous home in summer can benefit as well from the holiday real estate season. Closing on a home purchase in winter means no need for reporting on capital gains for that previously sold house when April rolls around. Talk about Happy Holidays!
To get the word out, print tax information on holiday-themed handouts at your open houses or including a mention in your posts.
Note: When a potential buyer hesitates and wonders, "why now?" you can confidently answer with: tax breaks, tax breaks, and, oh yeah, tax breaks.
Missteps to Avoid in Holiday Real Estate (The Don'ts)
As a real estate agent, you know your stuff, and holiday real estate really isn't that different when it comes to what to avoid. But there are a few holiday twists to consider when it comes to selling in what has historically been termed the off-season.
- DON'T Skip Your Research - The key to selling success during the holidays is knowing who those holiday buyers are. Many winter shoppers are not married and might be extra motivated to buy because of a job offer or last-minute move. Understanding these buyers, how they differ from typical buyers, and what motivates them will be essential for closing those holiday deals.
- DON'T Overly Deck the Halls - There's nothing wrong with making things cozy, but you don't want to cross the line into cluttered. Stick to cheery music and light touches while avoiding distractions. Remember, you want to make it easy for buyers to envision the space as their own, and that means leaving a lot to the imagination-rather than burying it under lights and tinsel.
- DON'T Forget the Local Marketing Channels - Travel is a big part of the holidays. Locals may be gone for weeks at a time, and non-locals might be in town visiting. During this time, it's important to be targeting those who are physically in the neighborhood. This is the importance of hyperlocal marketing and communication channels like Nextdoor - where the neighborhood happens and where real estate agents can set up a free Business Page in order to reach residents nearby.
- DON'T Underestimate the Value of a New Listing - Seasons aren't the only thing that can affect a sale. Timing your listings just right makes a difference as well. According to The Balance, buyers prefer newly posted listings and will look at them first when browsing. To benefit from this, try posting right around midnight on the night before a holiday weekend or first thing in the morning.
- DON'T Leave Out the Sunshine - It goes without saying that high-quality, professional real estate photos stand out. In the colder months, it's important to remember year-round appeal. Be sure to include summer and springtime images of yards, pools, decks, outdoor kitchens, and curb appeal. Doing so gives buyers a peek at what sunshine will bring to their new home.
- DON'T Skimp on the Description - It's cold outside. Buyers need to really want to see your listing to venture outdoors. Build them a mental scene they can't refuse. Your listing description is more important in the winter months than ever. Which means you can use this to build the hype. Help them envision what being home for the holidays would look and feel like. Stand out with powerful headlines and consider holding interest with a limited-time holiday promotion. Make sure to clearly list whether your property is a single family home, condo or otherwise; bedroom, bathroom count, etc. The more information regarding your home sale the better so the buyers know exactly what they’re in for.
Don't Get Discouraged-It Won't Take a Holiday Miracle
Things may slow down during the holidays, but buyers are ready to bite. Putting in a bit of extra effort can result in a stronger likelihood for sales even though the market is thin. Take advantage of fewer listings and a smaller pool of competition.
Crack the marketing code, tweak your techniques, have fun with holiday-themed local advertising, and adjust for a new generation of buyers. Doing so will help your holiday real estate outlook go from cold and gray to merry and bright.
Get Your Piece of Holiday Pie
It's been an unusual year, but there are holiday home buyers out there ready to purchase their next home. Whether for a new job, new start, or new adventure, the holiday real estate buyer is a demographic that is growing, unique, and looking for listings like yours.
Get a headstart by expanding your neighborhood reach. Nextdoor is the tool that helps local businesses and friendly neighbors connect, even when they're physically holed up for the winter. So, if weather conditions are keeping you physically apart, use Nextdoor to stay connected online, run your business digitally, and continue to deliver excellent customer service.
With these holiday real estate do's and don'ts, you're already off to the right start. So, light up that fireplace, brush up on your video-making skills, and get your piece of holiday pie.
Forbes. Why November is the Best Month to Sell Your Home. https://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2014/11/14/why-november-is-the-best-month-to-sell-your-home/#7830f9f1690f
HGTV. Top 10 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays. https://www.hgtv.com/lifestyle/real-estate/top-10-tips-for-selling-your-home-during-the-holidays
Realtor.com. When is Housing’s Black Friday? Some Surprising Holiday Home-Buying Trends. https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/real-estate-market-during-major-holidays/
American Home Shield. Three Reasons Why November is a Great Month for Home Sellers. https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/real-estate/great-month-for-sellers/
Real Estate Express. How to Write Inspiring Real Estate Listing Descriptions. https://www.realestateexpress.com/career-hub/grow-your-real-estate-career/real-estate-listing-descriptions/
Real Estate Express. 7 Do’s For Open Houses During the Holidays (And 4 Don’ts). https://www.realestateexpress.com/career-hub/grow-your-real-estate-career/open-houses-during-the-holidays/
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