Real Estate: Realtors weigh in on listing a home during holidays

12/14/2014 12:00 PM |
Candy canes, flowers and other decorations — including a holiday-themed doormat and Christmas table runner — helped make this open house in Mattituck more appealing, said real estate agent Beth Pike. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Candy canes, flowers and other decorations — including a holiday-themed doormat and Christmas table runner — helped make this open house in Mattituck more appealing, said real estate agent Beth Pike. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The holidays have long been considered the worst time of year to put your home on the market. But could listing your property between Thanksgiving and the New Year actually not be such a bad thing?

“Look: It’s never the wrong time to sell your house,” said Sheri Winter Clarry, licensed associate real estate broker at Corcoran in Southold. “Once you’ve made that decision, go for it with your full effort.” 

It’s true that the local real estate market picks up speed after Jan. 1 and intensifies from there, typically until the end of spring, said John Nickles, owner of Lewis & Nickles Real Estate in Southold. But that doesn’t mean buyers aren’t already looking for their first or second homes in between shopping for gifts and visiting relatives.

Case in point: “I once a sold a home on Christmas Day,” Mr. Nickles, who’s worked in real estate for 52 years, said with a slight chuckle.

According to Valerie Goode, owner of Colony Realty in Jamesport, people who purchase a home during the holidays may even find themselves at a financial advantage over those who wait until the snow has melted.

“Buyers might get a good deal because some people do stay away,” Ms. Goode said. “It’s a better opportunity.”

Plus, Ms. Clarry added, “Very serious buyers are absolutely looking right now” — particularly those who are anxious to complete any home renovations before the start of the busy summer season.

The downside of listing your property right now, Mr. Nickles cautioned, is that some people are just too busy to even think about testing the real estate waters.

“Once you get to Thanksgiving, what is your family doing? You’re thinking about Christmas,” he said. “You have to go shopping. You’re thinking about turkey; you’re thinking about how you’re going to put up with your Uncle Bill again. That’s on people’s minds.”

Still, the way many local agents see it, the idea that there’s a “perfect time of year” to sell your home is largely a thing of the past.

Ms. Pike rearranges flowers for Saturday's open house. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Ms. Pike rearranges flowers for Saturday’s open house. (Credit: Paul Squire)

“Everybody always thought it was the spring market, but I don’t stop,” Ms. Clarry said. “My business doesn’t stop in the cold months; I’m crazy busy. People discover the North Fork over dinner or talking to friends or coming out for a weekend.”

If you do decide to put your home on the market during the holidays, local realtors said they don’t discourage sellers from decorating their houses in an effort not to offend potential buyers who don’t celebrate their particular holiday.

In fact, it’s the opposite.

“I think it [makes houses] looks better,” said Beth Pike, a licensed sales agent with Community Realty in Mattituck. This past weekend, Ms. Pike helped staged a two-bedroom ranch on Westphalia Avenue in Mattituck for an open house with poinsettias and lit candles.

The effect, she said, made the home “more festive and bright and cheery. You come in and it’s warm and homey.”

It seems to have worked: Despite dreary weather, she said, more than a dozen people toured the house — and two made offers.

Decorating your home for the holidays doesn’t mean you should hit up your nearest wholesale store for a set of inflatable lawn snowmen, Ms. Clarry said with a laugh.

“You don’t need to go crazy,” she said. “Keep it classic. Candles in the window are always beautiful because they’re just so elegant.”

Ultimately, Ms. Goode added, sellers should do what they want — whether that means listing their house in the first place or putting Christmas lights on a waterfront cottage they’re trying to unload.

“I’m not in favor of taking off during the holidays,” she said. “Live your life, you know?”

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With Joe Pinciaro

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