Shopping For Real Estate During The Holiday Season: What To Expect

By Alyssa Morrison |

This time of year is traditionally slow in the real estate market. In Western Washington, fewer homes come on the market as potential home sellers opt to decorate for the holidays in lieu of staging for potential buyers. Meanwhile, potential buyers might be taking a backseat as the holiday frenzy and weekends full of football keep them away from open houses. Come January, we’ll expect to see an onslaught of new inventory and fresh buyers entering the market.

“The conventional wisdom is that November and December are quiet,” says Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty broker Eleanor Heyrich.

This year has been a little different, as Heyrich explains that in 2019 the conditions have been good for both sellers and buyers.

“Unlike in 2018, there has been more inventory. However, overall buyer demand continues to build because there’s still fairly low inventory,” says Heyrich. That can result in multiple offer situations, especially in areas like the city of Seattle, which is good for sellers.

Opportunity Is Knocking

For home sellers who went on the market earlier this fall, and haven’t found the right buyer, there’s an opportunity waiting if they’re willing to keep their home on the market through the holidays. Heyrich says that if buyers are looking during a hectic holiday season, they’re probably more serious.

Buyers who are shopping for a new home in November and December, working with an expert agent like the global real estate advisors at Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, may find themselves in a position to negotiate with a motivated seller.

Expect a Busy January

Heyrich says that often it’s conversations over the holidays that function as a catalyst for jumping into the housing market and real estate shopping, including conversations with loved ones over the holidays about financing. This is just one of the factors that increase foot traffic at open houses during the first part of the year.

While there are advantages to buying and selling at the end of the year, Heyrich says, “Personally, I recommend preparing to sell in the first quarter of the year. This is when we see buyers come off the benches from the holidays and be the most active. There isn’t football to be watched and the weather isn’t conducive to travel. Buyers are more motivated in Q1 and there’s less standing inventory. It’s the perfect conditions for sellers.”

On the Market, and Still on Market

For sellers who took their home off the market over the holidays, and are about to relist, Heyrich recommends working with your broker to develop a strategy to best capture the attention of the influx of buyers entering the market.

“For homes under $2 million, if you’ve been on the market for over 90 days, you may have a price or product problem. Sellers have two choices, adjust the price or the improve product. The seller needs to have had an honest conversation with their broker to figure out which strategy to implement—where their best leverage is, whether to change the price or invest in improvements to the property.” Heyrich says when it’s her clients, “I would be talking to my sellers, ‘What buttons can we push to generate interest and then capture (a buyer’s) attention once they’re walking through the front door?”

Whether it’s a landscaping refresh to captivate a potential buyer, tackling home repairs, or forging a different path marketing your home, a broker can work with a seller to assure their home finds the right buyer.