Need to know how to sell a home fast, even though the holidays are speedily approaching? If you're thinking of throwing up your hands and giving up hope until the new year, we're here to offer hope: There's still time!
Because here's the deal: As eager as you may be to sell your home before the holidays, plenty of people out there are dying to buy a place before the holidays descend, too. So if you play your cards right, it is entirely possible to not only find a buyer, but also close the deal and move out before Santa's sleigh starts making the rounds.
Polish your online listing
Because the weather outside is "frightful," as they like to say (or at least will be soon enough), buyers want to do much of their looking online. With that in mind, focus on making your home so alluring they're willing to put on those parkas and check it out in person.
"Make sure that your home has an online listing that's up to date and has optimal photos available, since buyers usually don’t like to go out in cold weather," advises Ray Sturm, CEO and co-founder of AlphaFlow.
"Most home buyers vet potential homes through online listings before reaching out," Sturm continues, "so ensuring your home is presented in the best light online is a good way to attract potential buyers."
Play up the holiday features
Buyers want to envision themselves settling into a home in time to celebrate that first Thanksgiving or Christmas, says home expert Lauren Mak, who has appeared on TLC's "Trading Spaces" and ABC's "Fab Life with Tyra Banks and Chrissy Teigen."
Mak suggests accenting architectural features such as a fireplace or sweeping staircase to showcase how great your home could look for the holidays.
"Add twinkle lights to a fireplace or table decorations to your dining room to help potential buyers visualize their future home," she says. "If you have something like a bay window where a Christmas tree might be, clear the clutter before showing your home."
Suzy Minken, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway, agrees. "For sellers with a spacious dining room, the table can be decorated for holiday entertaining," she says. "This is an ideal opportunity to create that 'wow' moment among buyers, so sellers may want to consider purchasing new tableware and accessories that are trending in home design. This gets buyers excited about making the house their new home just in time for the holidays."
Home decor aside, Gill Chowdhury of Warburg Realty recommends writing a property description that highlights the features that really count during the holidays. For example, "spacious dining room, ideal for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner" will appeal to a buyer's emotions.
But don't overdo the holiday decor
While it's good to be jolly, don’t go over the top, says Dawn Houlf, real estate coach and owner of EXIT Realty Number One in Las Vegas.
"Homes do look their best during the holiday, but simple is best," she says. "Too big or too many adornments can crowd your home and distract buyers."
Be flexible with showings
If you want buyers bidding for your home, they're going to want to check out every nook and cranny, so you'd better be ready and willing to let 'em.
"The best thing that sellers can do during the holiday search is keep the home clutter-free and stay open and available for last-minute and short-notice showings," says Shayna Goldburg, broker and chief human resources officer at Schedule.
"What I have noticed is that it is harder and harder to view homes during the holiday season," Goldburg says. "Oftentimes homeowners go out of town, guests come to visit, or owners have their own entertaining schedule, and prefer not to have showings to interrupt this time. At the end of the day, the more open, available, and flexible you are as a homeowner for showings, the more your home will be seen and greater your chance for a sale."
Make sure your home is move-in ready
Having your home pre-inspected before you list can accelerate your sale in three key ways, saysSteve Wadlington, president of WIN Home Inspection.
1. It makes your house more marketable: Buyers feel safer making an offer on a home thats an open book during the home-selling process.
2. It can save you money: Once you know what issues need to be fixed, you can have those problems taken care of before you list. The cleaner and more issue-free you can make your home, the faster its likely to sell, which can save you money in the long run.
3. It allows you to highlight your homes assets: New flooring or granite counters installed? Electric wiring redone? Brand-new appliances or furnace? "These are huge selling points, and your home inspection report will reflect all of the improvements and upgrades youve made," Wadlington says.
Make curb appeal a top priority
"As the leaves begin to fall, maintaining the exterior of your home becomes even more important," says Houlf. "Bare trees equal a more exposed home, so touch up the paint, clean the gutters, and spruce up the yard. Paint the front door, hang a decorative wreath, and [add] a decorative welcome mat. In addition, keep buyers’ safety in mind as well by making sure stairs and walkways are free of snow, ice, and leaves."
And don't forget to highlight the outdoor features buyers can enjoy year-round. If you have a fire pit or hot tub, show it off.
While competition is greatly reduced around Thanksgiving, that alone may not be enough to encourage offers, notes Sophie Kaemmerle, communications manager for NeighborWho.com.
"Incentives put you ahead of the pack," she says. "Offer what you can, ranging from updated appliances to paying closing costs, offering extras like TVs, and be flexible with negotiations."
Plan a themed open house
"Since you are so close to the holiday, why not host a Thanksgiving or holiday-themed open house," Kaemmerle suggests. Think: an early tree-trimming, or offering up some homemade holiday treats.
"Not only is this a fun way to show off a home, but also you will stoke buyers' holiday and home-buying excitement," she says.
Just keep in mind that timing is important this time of year, Kaemmerle adds: "Not many people will ditch family dinners for an open house on an actual holiday."
By Liz Alterman