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Selling & Buying A Home During The Holidays:

Is it a correct observation or a misconception that it is a disadvantage to list your home for sale during the holiday period? 

Conventional belief has generally been that December is the least desirable time of the year to have a home on the market. The reasons for this thinking are that people go on vacation, holidays distract attention, bad weather may inhibit some buyers, and many real estate agents discourage home sellers from winter listings.

A long-standing practice of real estate professionals is to take homes off the market around Thanksgiving in order to “refresh” the listing for the new year, and then relisting it in the spring. Agents may also tell homeowners who are thinking of putting their home on the market to wait until March, since more homes sell better at that time of the year.

The fact is if someone wants to sell their home, there are a number of reasons and advantages to putting it on the market during the end of year/winter season. More than 90 percent of the home buyers do their initial searching online, and mostly do so in the evenings. 

Even if they are out of town visiting relatives, they have internet access. A growing number of home seekers are far more mobile, and are looking for homes more frequently as relocation for professional reasons is imperative.

People who are searching online can only look at the current inventory available. These buyers will choose from the homes that are actively listed at they time they are in the market to buy. Therefore, those that are not listed will miss consideration.

There may be fewer showings during December than many other times of the year. However, those potential buyers who are looking at homes then may be more motivated and serious about buying and some buyers will actually have more time to look at homes during the holiday period. Because they have fewer homes to select from with the lower inventory level, any seller whose home is on the market will have less competition.

To validate the suggestion that the end of year period is really an advantageous time to be on the market, a review of the holiday season home sales in 2012 provides substantial evidence that this is true.

Using Santa Monica as the marketplace to analyze this, an average of 15 new escrows were opened each of the two winter months, versus 20 per month average the preceding ten months. Further analysis revealed that 25 percent of those winter-contracts were put on the market and entered escrow between mid-November and Jan. 1, and involved multiple offers. And having reviewed my own sales record, we have found that in 14 of the last 18 years, I have had transactions begin during that holiday period.

Though it may seem counter intuitive, it well may be that the end of the year/winter season is an excellent time to be in the market place.

For the past 28 years Michael Edlen has tracked statistics and trends, and provides real estate counseling services to prospective buyers and sellers. More tips and information are available at MichaelEdlen.com. He can be reached at 310.230.7373 or michael@michaeledlen.com.

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