Does House Selling Have to Take a Holiday?

Everyone knows the holiday season is not the time to think about putting your house on the market—that was true even during the height of the housing bubble. Buyers and sellers turn their attention toward shopping, entertaining and traveling.  And let’s not even talk about the lousy weather.

Real estate agent Sharon Friedman has helped her clients get through 27 years of holiday seasons and still remembers when interest rates were a then-reasonable (but now jaw-dropping) 12 percent.

“I’ve never seen a housing slump last so long or values drop this much,” says Friedman. “But the market seems to be stabilizing.”

But if you have to put your house on the market now, Friedman offers several tips for getting through the holidays and maybe even increasing the odds of making a sale:

Show restraint with holiday decorations. “You have to live in your home and make it wonderful, but 25 Santa Clauses are too many,” says Friedman.  “But the contrast is true too; holiday decorations can create a very warm, wonderful feeling.”

Friedman advises sellers to remove decorations promptly after the holiday season, so the home feels fresh.

Stay the course. It’s common for overwhelmed sellers worried about accruing market times to consider taking their homes off the market during a time when buyers are preoccupied with holiday activities, but Friedman usually advises her clients to keep their listing active on the Multiple Listing Service.

“You just don’t know when a buyer will appear,” says Friedman, adding that unforeseen factors such as job transfers, divorce and even death prompt new buyers to come into the market.
For buyers who need a break, Friedman advises keeping the home on the market as an exempt listing, which means that while it won’t show up on the MLS or real estate Web sites, it will remain available for sale to potential buyers with agents in the know.

“It won’t count toward your days on the market,” she says. “On the other hand, you’re closing off a marketplace of potential buyers who won’t find it on the Internet.”

Stay on top of shoveling and ice removal. “A snow-covered driveway can be a big turnoff to buyers,” she says.

Don’t give up hope. And lest you believe miracles happen only on 34th Street, Friedman offers some reassuring words: “I’ve closed on a house on every single holiday,” she says. “Christmas, the 4th of July, Halloween, all of them.”