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Deck the halls: Selling during the holidays

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Without fail, each year I would be working with a family or other home seller who needs to have their home on the market through the holidays. Right about now, just prior to Thanksgiving, I'd be on the phone with them saying, “Are you sure?” and hearing them sigh over the line.

For some, it’s a matter of necessity; corporate relocations wait for no one. For others, it’s the continuation of a dry fall season with no offers. Whatever the motivations, if your home is about to be listed on the MLS through the next five weeks, here are a few simple tips to retain sanity and even create a bit of an edge:

1. Keep the exterior decorations to a minimum. Curb appeal still is relevant, even when there’s a foot of snow on the ground. Speaking generally, outside decorations are done with less attention to detail and can look messy (as my sons can attest to – they just hang the lights everywhere or on trees and shrubs out front and think it’s wonderful). Stick to some tasteful wreaths on the lampposts and door, etc. No Clark Griswold!

2. Make the interior decorations work to enhance the “hominess” of your home. I’ve seen sellers do a great job of decorating their living spaces so that I just want to hang out and have an eggnog with them. Believe me, this sense of belonging is not lost on home buyers and will provide an added incentive to make an offer.

3. Keep the place clean. The holidays are nuts and we’re all coming and going to events. Avoid the temptation to use the busyness as an excuse to let the house go over the next few weeks. Keep counters clear, put away things and keep viewing the house as your buyers see it, to keep perspective.

4. Be patient with showings. Remember that anyone brave enough to be looking at home in December is also highly likely to be motivated; give them time in the house and even leave them a spice cookie for their trouble! Yes, the showing will invariably be when you need to be in the kitchen for some reason or another. Keep your holiday cheer on.

5. Do not let your listing expire Dec. 31. It’s an almost universal practice for agents to pick random expiration dates for listings, and sellers usually agree that the end of the calendar year seems a good idea. However, having your listing expire on New Year’s Eve invites complications if a holiday buyer decides to move forward with an offer during the first days into January after things have calmed down. If your listing has expired, your agent will be in an awkward spot of not actually representing you but getting offers to negotiate. Better to let your listing expire on, say, Jan. 10 just in case.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday this weekend!

Jeff Geoghan

Jeff Geoghan

Jeff Geoghan is vice president of marketing and communications for Coldwell Banker Select Professionals and Select Services. Jeff lives in East Petersburg, where he also serves as mayor.

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