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A new home isn’t on the top of many holiday shopping lists. People are focused on festivities with friends and family and may also be on the road to visit loved ones, driving down demand. Similarly, many home sellers don’t want to put property on the market while dealing with holiday hassles themselves.
"The upside of selling during the holidays is that seller competition is very low, meaning your home will be competing with a lot fewer homes," said Mia Simon, a Redfin real estate agent in Silicon Valley.
And those who are house hunting over the holidays are typically highly motivated buyers looking to close a deal quickly. So slim seasonal pickings could drive up interest—and bids—for your property. Here are some suggestions for getting your home in selling shape.
Clean out closets - Potential buyers are inevitably going to open cabinets and closets to check out a home’s storage space. So take some time before the holidays get hectic to clear clutter. Consider donating clothes you haven’t worn since last year and evaluate kitchen gear with an eye toward what you really use. Pack up or donate the rest.
Set up a holiday calendar - A holiday calendar to help you track seasonal chores and events can be useful any year, but it is an essential tool for homesellers. Use it to schedule shopping sprees to coincide with showings, for instance. And be sure to pencil in time to purchase and wrap gifts early. That way, you can display them rather than crowding closets with unwrapped items.
Consider hiring help - A personal organizer can bring an objective eye toward downsizing holiday decor and ditching underused items. Some organizers can also act as personal assistants, helping homeowners buy and wrap gifts or plan parties, according to House Beautiful magazine.
Carefully consider your listing - If you really need to sell you house before the New Year, real estate experts suggest listing it either a few weeks before Thanksgiving or between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And price it to sell from the start. While you want to get a fair deal, your asking price should be firmly based on comparable sales in the neighborhood and realistic expectations for the current market. Most experts strongly suggest hiring a knowledgeable real estate agent to help you with your holiday home sale rather than trying to handle it on your own.
Polish your home’s online profile - It’s critical to help your home look its best in an online listing. Most potential buyers start their search from the comfort of their computer nook these days, especially during cold-weather months. So have top-quality photos taken, including some spring and summer shots of your landscaping if possible, and include a video tour of your home.
Keep your home neat and neutral - This is a good rule of thumb for selling a home at any time, but the holidays add their own challenges. Some real estate agents recommend keeping your guest rooms unoccupied for the season and possibly skipping some holiday trimmings to cut down on clutter. Any decorations should be tasteful and sized right for the space. And they shouldn’t be overly personal or religious. The goal is to help potential buyers see themselves in the home.
Keep it cozy - Set your thermostat at a comfortable level and add other touches that encourage home viewers to look and linger for a while. If you have showings scheduled, HGTV suggests putting on some classical music at low volume and setting some home-baked treats on the counter that perfume the house with holiday scents. To make things easier, have some sweet treats in the freezer to pop in the oven on short notice.
Consider curb appeal - Before the worst of winter, touch up paint and make sure the gutters, trim, and steps are in top condition. If it’s icy, be sure to clear and salt walkways so real estate agents and their clients can make their way to the door without a hitch.
Try these tips to get organized and help your home sparkle during showings. Who knows? You could help a family find a home for the holidays—yours.