By Kerry Adams
With October in the rearview mirror, it’s time to start planning your Thanksgiving feast, adorning your home with festive decorations and tackling that gift list. But, don’t forget to add another important item to your pre-holiday checklist: calling your real estate agent.
Historically, as the holiday season heats up in Alexandria, the real estate market cools down. But for serious buyers and sellers, November and December offer unique advantages. Here are some compelling reasons to act now instead of waiting until spring to list or buy a home.
It’s a seller’s market
Despite the 23-year-high interest rates, Alexandria is still considered a seller’s market, according to Realtor.com. This means there are more active buyers than available homes. Serious buyers will continue their home search even during the holidays.
According to Bright MLS, there are more cash buyers now than during the pandemic. In September, nearly 24% of buyers in the mid-Atlantic region paid cash for their homes. Cash buyers typically close sooner and waive financing and appraisal contingencies, making for much smoother transactions.
Alexandria literally lights up during the holidays with beautifully decorated streets and a lineup of seasonal events like the Scottish Walk and Parade of Lights. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your home, allowing potential buyers to envision creating their own holiday traditions.
Contractors are less busy
Most homes need at least some prep work prior to going on the market. Home improvement contractors like painters, flooring specialists and stagers tend to have more availability in the winter months, which means it will take less time to get your home on the market and sold.
Get ahead of the curve
If you need to sell first in order to buy your next home, getting under contract and selling during the winter months will make you a more competitive buyer when you go to purchase in the busy spring market. Sellers are more likely to consider offers without home sale contingencies. If you’re worried about selling now and having no place to go, consider negotiating a rent-back to allow time to find your next home. There are also many short term housing options in the area.
With many potential buyers distracted by holiday festivities, shopping and travel, the pool of people actively searching for homes tends to shrink. This decreased competition can work in favor of buyers, potentially leading to better deals and more negotiating power. Avoiding the busy spring market also keeps some emotion out of the equation. Multiple offer situations can lead buyers to make impulsive decisions like waiving contingencies and paying over market value.
While some homeowners may hesitate to list their properties during the holidays, those who do are often highly motivated to sell. Many sellers have reasons such as relocating for work, financial considerations or other urgent needs. As a result, they may be more willing to negotiate on price and terms, creating opportunities for buyers to secure more favorable terms.
Buyers who close before the end of the year stand to benefit from attractive tax breaks including deductions for mortgage interest, points and property taxes. Consult a tax advisor for information on your specific situation.
Buyers and sellers often have more flexible schedules during the holiday season. With time off work and school vacations, it’s easier to coordinate property viewings and meetings with real estate agents. This flexibility can streamline the buying or selling process.
The holidays hold different meanings for everyone and can range from joy-filled to stress-inducing. If your holiday plans include buying or selling a home, be prepared for a range of emotions, but with an experienced agent by your side they should undoubtedly be more merry and bright and less bah-humbug. Happy holidays!
The writer is an Alexandria-based Realtor with Compass, a national real estate platform with many agents across the country and in the city.