Lessons Learned from Home Sales in December
We all know one of the truisms in real estate is that selling your home during the holidays is a good thing, contrary to what some people believe.
Every year there are a number of posts about the reasons why you should list and sell during the holidays.
While all this is true, there are some important lessons to be learned from selling during the holidays. Here are some thoughts, for buyers, sellers AND agents.
1. Inventory is lower during the holidays. In looking at the market data for Carlsbad and other nearby communities for my monthly market reports I found that inventory dropped for most areas I service in November, and then again in December. Inventory increased well during 2018 and remains a seller’s market in many areas, but depending on what price range you were in, as a buyer you have less to consider, and sometimes scheduling showings is tougher. I certainly found that with several buyers.
2. Because of less inventory sellers had less competition. That's a good thing for seller, but maybe not as much for buyers. But we still see properties with multiple offers, including the ones I got under contract in December. Buyers can't expect making offers will necessarily be easier, and you still have to put your very best foot foward and not play games with low ball or poorly-completed offers while thinking that no one else will be interested in the house that you are.
3. Dates are important in the contract – we all know that – and when selling during the holidays it’s essential to pay attention to the calendar and make sure those dates you chose for your offer for certain key activities…closing for example...aren’t a potential problem, occurring say the day after Thanksgiving, on Hanukkah, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve.
4. Be aware that some key players in the transaction may not be available around the holidays at times when you might need them, so plan accordingly. Lenders, title and escrow companies, insurance providers, and records offices, for example, are often closed early on the day before key holidays so you can lose important time you might be counting on.
I advise checking with these key players when you are getting into a contract, or perhaps when preparing the offer, so you are aware of dates when things might not, or cannot, happen and you can allow for more time for the appraisal, loan approval, escrow paperwork to be prepared, or a title search.
One seller couldn't order the HOA documents in a timely manner for my buyers because the HOA office was closed...for days between Christmas and New Year's!
5. The first couple of weeks once you have acceptance can be critical, with a lot of due diligence to be done (e.g., home inspections, disclosures), and the holidays can cause some problems with scheduling. Inspectors may be out of town (yep, happened with me for 2 contracts this past December), or sellers may be entertaining and don’t want visitors on certain days (yep, another problem I encountered). Appraisers take time off, too!
6. Planful and frequent communication – emails, calls, text messages – is even more important during the holidays, when, quite frankly, some people just may not be as responsive due to holidays.
They are out shopping, at parties, or taking time off and not checking emails, answering their phones or even responding as diligently as they might normally. Sometimes you just have to be a bit of a nag and write or call again when important issues or questions come up.
We all observe and celebrate holidays differently…as do our buyers and sellers, and all our vendors.
Not everyone always has the same sense of urgency as we might hope for or need...this is true any time of the year but maybe even more so during the holidays. I think it’s important to be understanding of all that life becomes during holiday time, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, and to prepare for possible delays and aggravations, and perhaps build in some extra time for those key contract dates and events.
Those who are buying and selling during the holidays are serious…we all know that…and want to accomplish their buying and selling goals plus move in or out. As in any real estate transaction sometime things do not go according to plan or design, and the holidays can through an extra crimp in there in a number of ways.
And despite selling or buying, you STILL want to be able to enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate, and spend time with friends and family.