Should My House Be Listed During the Holidays?

I saw a “back to school” ad in July, before the weather had even gotten any good here in Tacoma. Do me a favor, advertisers, and let me and all of the other kids enjoy summer before reminding that it’s almost over. From a Realtor’s perspective, the time around the first day of school tends to be slow, which is another reason that I don’t like to be reminded about it. This year, Matt and I and our wives took advantage of what promised to be a quiet Labor Day weekend and went to see Dave Mathews Band and Avett Brothers at the Gorge. It was a warm night of gorgeous music under a full moon, and a great way to bid farewell to Summer 2012. It wasn’t as quiet as we expected though; Matt and I spent a lot of time that weekend negotiating offers. It has been a busy September. Most years we see pending sales drop from August to September as school beings. This year in Pierce County pending sales actually increased. MLS’s August report showed 1283 of them. Today there are 1800. So who knows what is in store between Halloween and New Year?

I was asked today, as I frequently am this time of year, whether a seller should list their house (or keep it listed) through the holidays. I think the right answer varies according to the motivation and situation. There are good arguments for going off the market. Fewer buyers are out. People can certainly get overwhelmed preparing for the holidays, shopping and travel, so adding the need to keep the house clean can be a challenge. If you are not highly motivated to sell right away and you need a break, November and December can be a reasonable time to get a breather. In fact, if you can hold the house off the market 90 days or more, the MLS “Days on Market” counter starts over at zero.

But there are compelling arguments for being on the market during this time as well. Here’s a fishing metaphor, because metaphors can be fun and persuasive. If you pull the bait out of the water, the fish probably won’t jump into the boat for it. If the perfect buyer is out looking, they won’t know your house is for sale if you take it off the market. Yes, there are fewer buyers out looking, but those buyers that are out tend to be more serious, many transferring from other areas. They want to find a home, fast. Remember, lots of SELLERS leave the market this time of year too, so you will also be competing with less inventory (less bait in the water, if you take my meaning). And here’s another thought. Are you the kind of person or family who creates a festive home environment during the holiday season? When is your home more welcoming and inviting to prospective buyers than when the halls are fully decked and there is a fire flickering in the fireplace?

Homes do sell during the holidays. David and Matt and I all have tales of negotiating contracts on Christmas and Christmas Eve. David negotiated three one Christmas!

Again, who knows what kind of market we are in for this fall/winter, but if September is any indication, I think we are going to see good sales volume. I wonder when we’ll see the first ad for Christmas?

P.S. The National Association of Realtors reported today that the national median price rose year-over-year for the sixth straight month. Total existing home sales volume was up more than 9% over last August.

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