The decision to market your property during the winter holiday season really depends on your personal situation and lifestyle. One of the reasons people choose to sell "by owner" is to control the sales process, ie. showings, in order to maintain a balance between family commitments with that of a desire to sell their home. While some sellers decide to pull up the yard sign and eliminate all advertising expense during this period, that may not be the best solution. There are ways to continue to market your property whle still keeping your family priorites in the forefront. We have gathered many ideas from our successful home sellers over the years on selling during the holidays, and would like to share some of them with you.
- Internet FSBO Advertising: The Internet has the capability of reaching a wide pool of buyers continually at a very nominal advertising cost. Use lots of pictures to help buyers see the interior of the home at its best. Rooms should appear clutter-free and staged for maximum buyer appeal. Regional for-sale-by-owner marketing services have a broad range of marketing options, many including local media as well as Internet advertising and can syndicate your listing over a broad network of the most popular websites used by agents and private home sellers alike. You may also use free online classified sites like craigslist or backpage to point buyers to your main website and photos.
- Flat fee MLS: This might be a good time to think about adding the MLS to your marketing plan. Putting your home on the MLS in the off season will increase your exposure to the broker market and to buyers who may be viewing public websites such as realtor.com and others. Again, ask your regional FSBO marketing expert for help to determine whether this might be useful. Remember, unlike selling "by owner" using other marketing strategies, you are obligated to pay a buyer broker commission in order to list on the MLS.
- Yard Sign: Some sellers prefer to take the yard sign in during the holidays in order to discourage drive by interest. Again, this is optional. If your yard sign has a website address rather than just your phone number, the buyer will most likely look online before calling you. At this point, you have a pretty motivated buyer who is requesting a showing.
- Showings: Here is where using a calendar is a must. Block off dates when your home is not available for showings and mark "preferred" dates and times. We have found that most buyers are eager to accommodate your schedule, especially during the holidays. A word of caution: Never disclose to a potential buyer that you will be away. Use phrases like, "Our home will be available for showings on Wednesday and Saturday."
- Open Houses: Some sellers have found that holding an open house during the holidays provides a perfect way to generate interest. Depending on your reasons for selling, inviting the neighbors in for a gathering might also serve a similar purpose. Make sure you have plenty of flyers on hand!
- Social Networking: There is no better time of year for social gatherings than during the holiday season. Try printing up some business cards with a picture of your home and a link to your website address where you are advertising your property. As conversations unfold and your selling plans become a topic of conversation, offer to give them a card. A word of caution: Don't try this at the office Christmas party if you haven't told your boss you are leaving the state.
Should you decorate for the holidays? This is tricky. Holiday decorating is very personal and the number one rule about staging your home for the greatest buyer appeal is to remove all personal style. Buyers should not be distracted by decorations that overshadow the room. If you are going to decorate, try fresh greenery and candles and pack your singing Santa doorbell for your new home.
Don't forget safety factors during winter months, especially in areas like Western Massachusetts where we are located. Shovel and sand all walkways, steps and driveways and be sure to clear a path to your yard sign and information holder.
Remember, all it takes is one buyer to find your home and fall in love with it, even in these challenging economic times. If your home is priced fairly for the market (another great reason to sell by owner), has been prepared carefully and marketed to a wide enough pool of buyers, it will sell itself.