Just like the time around Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas is not considered the best time to start a diet, it is also reputed to be a difficult time to sell your house. When I started shopping for my Lynnwood, WA townhouse in December, I remember my real estate agent at the time telling me that many of her colleagues would take the month off and go on vacation. The realtors weren’t even working the whole month!
The good news is that although the holiday season, which is basically November through January, is generally considered one the worst times to try to sell your house in Shoreline, it’s not as bad as many people would have you believe. If you have a house you need to sell, don’t let the market timing discourage you. We are here to help! As top-performing agent Ricky Carruth has said, there are closings happening every day, so don’t let negative expectations stand in your way.
If you have a good agent in your corner, you’ll be in good shape, even if you do need to sell your home during the Christmas season.
While it’s true that during the holiday season, there may be fewer buyers, because many people do not want to move that time of year, the good news is that those who are looking will be buyers who are motivated and serious. In addition, with fewer homes on the market (many sellers wait for the “Spring Rush,” your home will have less competition.
It’s not all eggnog and sugar cookies, though. You DO have to get some things right. Take a look at these tips on how to sell your house during the holidays in Shoreline. And then if you still have questions, consult a real estate professional at (206) 578-3438.
Set The Scene Indoors: Stage It Well
To sell your house during the holidays, you will need to make sure you stage it well, so it grabs their attention, for buyers have a lot of obligations and activities pulling them in many different directions at this time of year. One rule of marketing is to “enter the conversation people are already having inside their heads.” Show them how the home can be beautiful inviting at this time of year.
If you’re still living in the home, don’t be afraid to decorate for the holidays. Entering a home that smells like cinnamon and pine needles or that looks like it’s about to be the stage for a Thanksgiving Feast or a Christmas morning extravaganza can transport people through their imaginations away from the grind and into the magic, safety of their perfect home. Home buyers will love seeing how they could entertain or celebrate during the winter months in your beautiful home.
How To Stage Your House To Sell
- Enhance your home’s style. Staging should enhance and complement the architectural style rather than detracting from it or clashing with it. If you love over-the-top decorating, like my cousin who went with a metallic silver Christmas tree last time, this might be the year to pull back to a more traditional/subtle level. you want your decorations to be hints and accents, not to obscure or drown-out the rest of the home.
- Accentuate the most attractive features. Make sure your staging draws attention to the positive features of your home, for example, high ceilings or a beautiful fireplace. Make sure your real estate agent knows how to start a crackling fire during showings and everything feels cozy and inviting.
- Join In The Party Spirit. How can you make people feel invited in for a bit of magic while they are at your home? Since it’s cold, including throw blankets and holiday-season pillows will make people anticipate feeling snuggly and safe living there. Since it’s dark, setting out some flickering LED candles could add some lighting and some atmosphere. If you’re having an open house, consider baking some gingerbread or other goodies that will have your house smelling like home. Studies show vanilla is a widely-appealing aroma.
- Complement the color scheme. The color accents you use should complement the new neutral color scheme that you’ve just achieved with repainting. Pick a minimal color palette for any decorations you’re bringing in. Think “pops of red” rather than “pops of every color of the rainbow.”
- Let a lot of light in. With shorter days and overcast skies during the holiday season, you’ll need to take down the heavy drapes, remove the blinds, and add artificial lighting. Consider incandescent bulbs which have a warmer glow than LED and fluorescents. Also, a few tasteful strings of Christmas tree lights inside the house on house plants or as creative decorations can bring a glow to an otherwise dark corner. Tasteful is key, however.
Note: Don’t Let It Get Dated! Your agent should handle this, but if you have any staging pictures that are “Christmas-Themed” you need to REPLACE THEM ON THE MLS and all your other marketing after Christmas, or they will make your home look dated right away. On December 26, you will become like the neighbors who don’t take down their Christmas decorations until July. Just like the shopping malls, you need to quickly move on to the next thing. So when one holiday is over, clean up ASAP and prepare for a fresh start.
First Impressions: Take Care of Curb Appeal
First impressions are immensely important, and the curb appeal is what creates the first impression when buyers drive up to your home. Unfortunately, the weather is not our friend. Just when the holiday season rolls around, leaves fall, everything is damp, and yards begin to look ragged. So if you really do want to sell your house at this time, you’ll need to do some cleanup and at least minor landscaping. Also, be sure to touch up any exterior paint that needs it, repair sagging fences, and lay down new mulch in beds.
Also, consider that everyone who comes tromping through your house may have wet shoes with pine needles stuck to them so make sure you provide a mat (indoors and out) for wiping feet, or some shoe covers so people won’t accidentally sully your freshly-cleaned floors.
If you can get the driveway clean, the lawn trimmed, and everything else covered with my favorite cure-all – MULCH – you will be in good shape. At this time of year, you don’t need any plants, you just need garden beds covered with a thick layer of mulch. Near the doorway, a potted evergreen or a “Welcome” sign can add some color and make things a little more cheery. Check pinterest for excellent ideas for Christmas curb appeal. Then focus on adding outdoor lighting because chances are any after-work showings will be when it is DARK outside.
Attract The Most Motivated Buyers
Buyers who are looking for homes at this time of year, likely want to buy and move in to a property quickly. They may have just moved to the area for a job, have a baby on the way and need more space, or are trying to get the move done while they are on vacation or experiencing a slow time at their job before the Spring Rush. Seek out these buyers and target them in your marketing efforts. A good tactic here is to work closely with your agent to find buyers on a tight deadline. Investors trying to add to their portfolio’s before the end of the year can be another good demographic in some instances.
Price to Sell, Not Sit
To sell your house during the holidays, you simply must price to sell. But that doesn’t necessarily mean pricing low. It means, rather, pricing strategically. This is true for all my clients, but it bears repeating.
For example, when your agent calculates the market value of your house and determines that it falls within the $520,000 to $550,000 price range, then you know where to price it. Generally, it’s better to price at the bottom of this range at, say, $520,000. That way you will entice buyers while still getting what your house is worth. If it’s truly undervalued, you will attract multiple offers and the price will be bid up.
The last investment property I sold over the holidays was in a podunk town out of state that had started experiencing a blazing-hot 4% appreciation rate (that’s *cheerful* sarcasm). It ended up closing in January and when we put it on the market, it attracted five offers, after being a rental for 12 years. And the price? We sold it for almost 10% more than the asking price. The ability to do this depends on the market, of course, but typically overpriced homes sit, and under-priced homes get brought up to market value by competing offers.
The Perfect Look, Every Time: Create a Virtual Tour
Today, if you want to sell your house quickly and at a good price, you simply cannot neglect online marketing. And one highly effective component of an online marketing campaign is a virtual tour. Busy buyers are coming to depend more and more on virtual tours when shopping for new homes – especially when the weather turns bad.
Buyers these days screen all homes online before selecting a few to come and visit. Your house has to make the “first cut” by looking good online before they ever come out to see it in person. That’s why we heavily emphasize digital marketing in all of our listing packages.
Hire a Good Real Estate Agent To Sell Your House
You can definitely sell your house during the holidays in Shoreline, but there are some critical ingredients in the recipe. (Oh look, a holiday baking metaphor! ) And one of those key ingredients is a qualified agent who will be there with you every step of the way. Not only will an agent help you sell your home, but will also free up more of your time for enjoying the holiday season.