Real Estate Market

Should you take your home off the market during the holidays?

(11/28/2011) The end-of-year holiday season 2011-2012 can be an opportune time to sell your home -- or not.

No, you won't get Black Friday-level traffic. Cyber Monday doesn't generate browsing for housing. Far fewer people shop for homes at this time of year.

In more ways than one, it's cold outside.

Finding a buyer who can qualify for a mortgage is a bitch. And right now, you'd probably much rather occupy your hearth than scrounge around for 1 Percenters who can afford a down payment.

However, if you really need to sell your home right now, you are already motivated to succumb to buyer demands and there are some seasonal factors that could work in your favor, according to residential real estate experts across the nation.

• Competition is limited. You aren't a sap because less motivated sellers wait to list their homes after the holidays.

Many sellers do take a pause for the holiday cause and go shopping until they drop. That means you have a larger captive audience. And it's an audience just as motivated to buy as you are to sell.

• Buyers are motivated. "Buyers that do venture out are typically more serious than the summer time crowd," said Doug Rogers an associate broker with Bayou Properties Realty in Alexandria, LA

Just as sure as there's another January in this sour economy, corporate budgets will get trimmed and layoffs will loom. That means some people are spending the holidays looking for a job or getting relocated to a more profitable office.

Some companies are actually hiring, especially in Silicon Valley and in towns showing up on the National Association of Homebuilders' (NAHB) American Improving Markets Index (IMI)

"Most relocation takes place the beginning of the year, so there's a good chance new employees to the area might secure their housing before January," said Keller Williams Realty's Michael Sibilia, president of Silicon Valley's Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

Sibilia says any buyer beating the bushes for a home during the holidays is a serious buyer taking advantage of a market with fewer buyers.

For sellers, "It could be a variety of things, seizing the market condition of no competition, they may want to downsize or upsize, relocate or simply cash out," Sibilia said.

Sibilia also said sellers who use the holiday selling strategy and find the right buyer can negotiate to remain in the home through the holidays and beyond by renting the home back from the buyer for a period of time.

"There is the ability for the seller to remain in possession of the home and find a replacement home when more inventory is on the market," he said.

• Your home is already staged. Stockings are hung by the chimney with care and aroma of gingerbread wafts through the air. A by-product of a holiday-decorated home, is a neat and tidy home made ready for holiday visitors, out-of-town guests and the festivities of the season.

"When is your home ever more beautiful and inviting? You have cleaned and decorated, and your home looks like a picture postcard. If the results are good enough for family and friends, they will surely be good enough to impress your buyers," says Jennie Link with Virginia Cook Realtors in Dallas, TX.

• Holiday sale break. Elizabeth Bolton, with Coldwell Banker in Cambridge, MA says the holidays can harm your chances of selling at the price you want if it has already languished unsold for a time.

Homes that remain unsold -- beyond the extended average days-on-market (DOM) in today's economy -- raise questions about the home's condition, price or other aspects.

"If your plans allow, taking your home off the market for several months can reset the DOM clock. That way you'll be able to come back on the market for the spring real estate buyers with a new listing with a zero-days-on-market status.," said Bolton.

Taking down for-sale signs for a shorter period can ease holiday stress.

"If your home has been for sale for some time, a break - a few weeks, especially the busy holiday weeks - may be a welcome respite and just what you need to stay sane without having to worry about showings," Bolton added.

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