Don’t Fear The Holidays When Selling Your Home
Traditionally the summer months are the hot months of the real estate market (both literally and figuratively), but there are still tons of buyers and sellers looking to make their move in the fall in winter months. Listing your home for sale during the holidays does bring about some unique challenges, but with a little bit of attention, you can sell your home, even during the holidays.
- Winter weather woes. Ok, let’s be real. We’re in Texas…South Texas at that. The weather is never really that bad. But we do hit a few really good cold snaps each year and the occasional ice storm heads our way as well. Those freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on our homes, especially when we aren’t accustomed to handling it. If your home is listed for sale and the temperatures drop, here are a few things you can do to make sure your asset is protected.
- Cover pipes. Wrap them up so they don’t burst after freezing and warming does some contraction, pipe cracking magic on them.
- Cover plants. Most big box stores sell specialty plant covers, but a good old sheet will also work. The idea is to trap the heat of the plants and keep them from flash freezing and then dying.
- Keep thermostats set to reasonable temperatures. Especially if your house is vacant, you’ll want to keep the utilities (in this case the heater) on just enough to a) keep pipes inside from freezing and b) keep potential buyers comfortable enough that they can stand to spend some time admiring your beautiful property instead of making a mad dash for the warmth and comfort of their cars.
- Doormats are your friend. With the winter weather you see gross wet conditions. It rains outside, buyers want to come inside, and then they bring the wetness and the dirt along with them. Consider putting a mat at the front door (both on the inside and the outside your front door) as well as an umbrella stand or jacket hook and towels. It’s those extra touches that keep your home at the top of the list.
- Landscaping in a new and different way. While we touched a little before on keeping up with landscaping in the face of freezing temperatures, you also have to remember that much of our holiday season isn’t full of the frozen, but instead of the slightly chilly and breezy. We aren’t always so blessed as to have the gorgeous changing colors of fall, but that doesn’t mean we don’t see the fun part made up of the thousands of falling leaves waiting to be swept together into piles for eager children and squirrels. Keeping yards raked and adding heartier or fall-inspired florals are just a couple of additional ways to keep up the curb appeal in a different way than you might have to tackle in other seasons.
- Holiday lights. Going Griswold may catch the eye of many an onlooker and inspire awe in others in the neighborhood you hope to soon be moving out of, but in may not be the best idea if your home is on the market during the holiday season. If Christmas lights are in your blood and you can’t help but add a little something here or there, just remember to keep it simple and understated. White icicle lights and a tasteful wreath – yes. Inflatable Santa circus with flashing reindeer, flying helicopters, and a jingle bell light show every half hour – not so much.
- Holiday décor inside the home. Starting in September and October, millions of Americans go to their attics, sheds, or storage units (click here to see self storage facility for one stop Self Storage) and pull out tub after tub, box after box, labeled “fall décor,” “Halloween Stuff,” “Christmas Decorations,” “Hanukkah Supplies,” and more. Inside these tubs lie lights, statues, fake plants, ribbon, glitter, gourds, silver, candles, posters, wreaths, potpourri, pinecones, linens, and on and on and on. When you are selling your home, remember that less is quite often more, so you might want to think about scaling things back just for this year. However, these traditional supplies, decorations, and adornments are the traditions of many families and the things that make their houses feel like homes this time of year. So instead of just killing any holiday cheer, might we recommend some of the following ideas.
- Having professional marketing photos taken before the addition of any décor items. While you hope that the home sells quickly, it may not, and there is little in this world more awkward than looking at an MLS listing in March or April that still includes a Christmas tree.
- Keep it neutral. This is not one of those politically correct statements or even one trying to stop you from celebrating your religious beliefs or traditions. It’s about keeping your home as appealing and inviting to as many people as possible. For the same reasons that we advise a neutral color pallet, removal of highly personal items or photos, and other staging tips, we advise you to keep your holiday décor sophisticated, toned down a smidge, and inviting/appealing to all.
- Remember the children. At Halloween, you don’t want to terrify a potential buyer’s five year old so badly that they never want to set foot near the property ever again. And later in the year another set of potential buyers may have a roaming toddler eager to touch decorative candles, poke at (and possibly accidentally break) valuable tree ornaments, or even slip and fall on some faux snow piled near a door. Just be mindful that you will have potential buyers coming through your home at any given time.
- And speaking of guests, the last months of the year are definitely the biggest for hosting family and friends. This can, for obvious reasons, create some conflicts when trying to schedule potential buyers on tours of your house. If you’re serious about selling at this time, consider changing your showing instructions to require a little more advanced notice (so you can plan a family outing to see Santa) rather than cancelling showings all together. And keep in mind that you may have to communicate showings to more people than usual in order to help them go smoothly. Otherwise potential buyers may walk in on a very surprised Aunt Edna getting out of the shower because she didn’t get the showing memo that one time she came for Thanksgiving. Most often, the buyers who are out looking in bad weather or around the holidays are actually the most serious buyers (or they wouldn’t be out in the cold and/or away from their own families if they could help it) and we would love to see you make the most of those showings whenever possible.
image courtesy of Jamie McCaffrey