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December 9th, 2016 at 11:00 am

holiday-home-seller-and-buyer

If you’ve been reluctant to even think of selling your home during the holiday season, you shouldn’t be. Myths abound about how potential buyers are too preoccupied to move during this festive time year, but there’s better evidence that it’s just not the case.

Just ask Debbie Edwards and Davina O’Donnell of our Sherman Oaks-Metro Arts office. This dynamic duo has repeatedly proved that it doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to list and sell a home while visions of sugarplums are dancing in buyers’ heads.

We invited Debbie and Davina to give some reasons why even Santa might not pass up a for-sale sign on his annual rounds.

Why is the holiday season a good time to list your home?

Serious and motivated buyers – “Only the most serious and motivated buyers are looking at this time of year,” Debbie said. “Some may need to close by year-end for tax purposes or the start of a new job at the beginning of the year.”

Less competition – In addition, while some sellers may wait to list in the new year, there might be less competition with other houses on the market.

Holiday decor – “Houses tend to look more beautiful over the holidays as owners anticipate company and entertaining. Why not show your house when it’s twinkling with beautiful lights and looking its best?”

So should holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees remain in place while the home is listed?

Skip the bells and whistles – “Yes, but only if tastefully done, Debbie said. You don’t want to overwhelm the buyer with too many bells and whistles. Keep decorations simple and elegant to appeal to the most buyers.”

Light it up – “When we listed a home last year during the holidays, the seller put beautiful white lights around the house and we had our photographer take twilight photos. It added so much warmth and created amazing curb appeal. It sold very quickly.”

Should you hold an open house? Should it have a holiday theme?

Enhance the holiday spirit – The holidays and all the decorations can put people in the spirit and help them imagine what their first holiday there will feel like. Emotion plays a huge part in buying a house, and this is an opportunity to enhance that.

Treat it like an exclusive holiday party – “During one of our open houses, we had the fireplace blazing and served hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and freshly baked cookies,” Debbie said. “All the prospective buyers commented how they felt like they were walking into a holiday party. It really created a warm atmosphere. That home sold quickly as well.”

Should you only accept preapproved buyers?

It’s best to know in advance – Preapproved means a lot more than prequalified, Debbie and Davina pointed out. It doesn’t take much time or effort to talk to a mortgage lender or bank to get preapproved. Before the buyer starts to look for a home, they will know in advance how much they can afford. This way, they don’t waste time with guessing or looking at properties that are beyond their means.

Put your foot down – “We never submit an offer without a preauthorization letter, nor do we accept offers without one,” Davina said.

Should the home be priced as aggressively as during the summer months?

Price it right for multiple offers – It’s always important to price a home correctly, but especially during the holidays, Debbie noted. Arguably there are fewer buyers, so it’s even more important to price the home right to end up in a multiple-offer situation.

What else can you do to help assure a sale during this season?

Word of mouth is a powerful tool – “In addition to pricing the home correctly and decorating tastefully, sellers can host a warm and inviting open house and invite the neighbors,” Davina said. “Word of mouth is often a great way to sell a home. Sellers should keep the house warm, tidy, and beautiful for last-minute showings.”

What advantages does the holiday season have for homebuyers?

Less competition benefits buyers – “First and foremost, there tends to be less competition for buyers over the holidays,” Davina said. “This means there’s a better chance for fewer multiple offers, which will benefit the buyer. Also, there may be tax advantages for some buyers to close before the end of the year.

More attention for your loan – “On the lending side, the mortgage industry often slows down this time of year, so a buyer’s loan may receive more attention and get pushed through more efficiently. Also, the mortgage broker may have year-end incentives and goals that could motivate them to get these deals closed quickly.”

Home for the holidays – “When we helped our buyers purchase right after Thanksgiving last year, they couldn’t wait to move in and put their tree up right away. It was a wonderful welcoming for their mom, who was visiting from New York.”

What can buyers do to purchase a home during the season?

Check your credit – Buyers should check their credit score, Debbie and Davina said. A higher score should get them a lower mortgage rate. They should not open new credit cards or overspend. “Too many lines of credit could hurt your chances of getting a mortgage, or at least getting the best rate on a loan,” Debbie said.

Put cash on your holiday wishlist – “Instead of getting gifts from family for the holidays, buyers can suggest cash to be put toward a home purchase.”

Find someone you trust to represent you – “Potential buyers should interview real estate agents,” Davina concluded. “They should look for someone who is knowledgeable, available, and accommodating to work around their schedule. Lastly, a new buyer should find a mortgage lender who they trust, and then get preapproved.”

Are you ready to buy or sell? Find an agent that can help you this holiday season. 

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