Holiday-Season Listings: Advantages?

By Dave Fratello | November 9th, 2009
You probably remember Summer, but that was a long time ago. Turkey Day is near and, wham!, it's 2010.

So is now – right now – a good time to put your home up for sale?

Conventional wisdom, and most people's experience, would say no. Indeed, lots of listings take the holiday season off entirely and come back in January or February.

But a salesperson's ad in one of the free weeklies lists "11 Reasons to List During the Holidays," and it got us thinking: Is there anything more to this than a mere plea for business?

We'll summarize and paraphrase 9 of those 11 points:
  1. Holiday-season buyers are more serious.
  2. Some buyers must buy by year-end for tax purposes.
  3. Job transferees often start in January; they'll want a house by then.
  4. Buyers have more time to look during the holidays.
  5. Those buyers will face more limited supply due to the ordinary dropoff in listings.
  6. Supply will "dramatically increase" in January, so if you wait to sell, you'll be one of many more options later.
  7. Homes show better with holiday decorations.
  8. Holiday-season buyers are more emotional, so they're "more likely to pay your price!"
  9. Sell now and you can be ready to buy in Spring when more options are available to you.
This pitch does an interesting job of skidding past the basic problems with the holidays: fewer buyers, fewer active marketing days and more diversions, like vacation and family, that preoccupy people who would otherwise be rightly focused on real estate.

Related: some of those "serious" late-year buyers are grinders and bargain-hunters who are in no real hurry, but see their negotiating advantage with longtime listings stuck on the market in the last weeks of the year. The barracudas aren't going to get weepy over stockings and mistletoe and overpay.

It's around this time of year, in our usual market tracking, that we start to see a real dropoff in new listings, but the rush isn't yet a trickle. And not all the homes coming to market now are strategic holiday-listers (if any) or distressed sales (though there are a few).

For some people, starting in November – and presumably running through the holidays unless they're very lucky – is just the right timing for one reason or another.

So what's your experience, either as an RE pro, a buyer or a seller, with late-year listings? 

Vote in MBC's new poll, and share your experiences here in the comments. Vote closes Weds. night at 8pm.

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