It’s always amazing when people start counting down to the holidays when leaves are still on the trees, but it’s pretty common. Many real estate professionals will warn you that you cannot sell a home once winter approaches, so most sellers tend to list just after Labor Day, and hope to sell by Halloween. But, if you haven’t listed yet, don’t be too quick to think you have to wait until spring.
Buyers who are searching for homes at the end of the year tend to be very motivated. They don’t have as much time, or inclination, to visit house after house, and there aren’t as many choices out there. They often have reasons to move before year end, perhaps a job that starts in January. Maybe they just sold a home, and need somewhere to go.
Whatever the cause, buyers at this time of year tend to move to closing more quickly. Even mortgage brokers and attorneys may be easier to rush along; they may have less to do, or want to earn more money before the holidays. Because the same Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day period comes every year, we all know that it can be difficult to find people in their offices, and harder to find convenient times to meet. However, it is also true that business travel slows down, and there is just something about an arbitrary calendar deadline that tends to serve as a spur to closings.
Sellers should go into this period with clear ideas about their personal bottom line, so that they can negotiate quickly and cleanly. Be prepared to leave a little on the table, so that neither side dithers over the details. Some repairs may be hard to perform at the holidays, so it’s worth considering a cash payment to the buyers instead, or an escrow account until they can be done after the closing. Going in with the mindset that everything needs to keep moving helps it to stay that way. After all, what could be better than accomplishing a move in less time?