Change “For Sale” to “Sold” during the Holidays

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Selling a home during the holidays has become a vibrant sector of the real estate market. In 2015, the holiday season accounted for 15 percent of the year’s market.

T his statistic is provided by Steve Cook, co-publisher of Real Estate Economy Watch and a member of the board of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Selling during the holidays is no longer for the desperate seller who must be out of her house and ready to deploy or to assume a new job. With millions of homes on the market and the convenience of online listings, buyers and sellers want to eliminate all the unnecessary hype and get it done. Otherwise, all parties would wait for a saner time period to buy and sell.

If you are considering selling your home during the holiday season, consider the following suggestions from real estate gurus on how to sell your home quickly.

If possible, hire a staging expert, who does this for a living and has professional expertise in showcasing homes to their best advantage. She knows how to get rid of clutter. For example, you shouldn’t throw your kids’ presents in the closet.Everyone wants to know the size of the closets, and a prospective buyer will pop the door open to determine if their possessions will fit inside. The fewer items left in the closet, the bigger the closet looks.

The staging expert will help you decorate tastefully but subtly for the holidays. Use a tree that is to the scale of your home, a traditional wreath and an arrangement of candles. Turn on all the lights to avoid shadows during the shorter days of winter. Your goal is to make your house cozy but not your grandma’s.

Does your real estate agent work through the holidays? Many don’t, so be sure to ask. If the agent is going on vacation or visiting relatives for the week before the holiday, she may not be the best one for you. Your real estate agent needs to know which lenders, inspectors, title companies and settlement agents are also working during the holidays. If you are working with a large firm, ask if they have someone who specializes in selling during the holidays. The agent will earn her fees by steering the paperwork to individuals who are as dedicated as she is.

Complete home maintenance projects now. Most home owners have a myriad of chores that never seem to get done, such as a sticky drawer, a broken light switch, a spot on the rug, an outdoor light fixture that doesn’t work. You should dedicate a weekend to doing them yourself or hire someone to fix these problems before you list your house. It’s discouraging for a prospective owner to think of having to do these chores themselves.

Smell Test
Use your senses to create a pleasant impression. We all know of Realtors who bake cookies when they are showing a house. Now’s a perfect time to bake seasonal pies and cookies that will leave a subtle, pleasant smell in your home. Any pet odors or other smelly odors need to be masked or covered up as best you can. This is the perfect time to check the HVAC system. Better to find out if there is a problem with the furnace, especially if it is smelly, before placing your home on the market.

Be ready to close quickly. Ignore offers from lowballers or those who want to waste your time with Hubbard clauses, which reserves the right for the buyer to purchase your property while trying to sell theirs, or other contingencies. Buyers may be looking for a tax break, but it can be difficult to meet all of the lender’s conditions. Here is where a real estate agent, who knows how to get the ball rolling, comes in. She should be able to get appraisers, inspectors, and title companies motivated to help close the deal before January first.

What if it doesn’t sell?
Don’t panic. January is a month with low inventory and new buyers moving into the market, Cook says. Don’t lower the price of your home to bargain basement prices. New buyers entering the market include those who have decided to stop paying rent and get a house. The buyers who couldn’t find a property in December may be extra motivated to get a house at the first of the year since they need to get settled.

Place a notebook near the front door in which potential buyers can leave feedback on what they liked or disliked about the house. You can also leave them small presents, such as cookies or small, wrapped candies, to tempt them to leave their comment. ■

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