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Ask McEnearney: Should I List My Home During the Holidays?

This week’s Q&A column is written by Rebecca McCullough of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Rebecca at 571-384-0941 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Should I list my home during the holidays?

Answer: At this time of year, we have many people asking if they should list their home now or hold on until after the new year? As always, if you need to sell, list it.

However, in most years, if you have flexibility, we would be inclined to wait until the new year. Many potential buyers may be thinking there will be more to choose from in the new year. This is generally true — we often do see an influx of listings and buyers in January. There is definitely a cycle of January shoppers that bring February contracts and March closings. Then the cycle is repeated in April, May and June.

However, 2020 — the year of COVID, working from home and social distancing — is truly a unique time. We have seen unusually high holiday season demand for detached homes, and decreased inventory. While not quite as “hot” as the pre-Covid market, there are more buyers than sellers leading this strong seller’s market. Multiple offers, while never assured, are not out of the question, and well-priced homes are selling quickly. For buyers, this is tough. For sellers, this is truly a “merry” circumstance. This year, in so many ways, is an anomaly.

So you decide to list… If you decide to list during the holiday period, you might wonder about holiday decor. Do you go full-bore holiday style, or keep the seasonal decor packed away? The answer lies somewhere in between: nobody expects sellers to ignore the season, but this is likely not the year to go all out.

Keeping decorations simple and somewhat restrained, while still honoring your family customs, is perfectly acceptable. Subtle and understated is the way to go, always keeping the staging guidelines in mind. Remember: accent the best features in your home. So, don’t put the Christmas tree in front of the window with the best view, or cover up beautiful mantles and railings with too much greenery. Use the décor to accent areas of the home that you want the buyer to see.

This time of year is fabulous to emphasize the warmth in a home. The smell of fresh baked cookies, glowing flameless candles and seasonal floral arrangements contribute to the ambience to make them want to linger.

Also keep in mind if you are launching your listing during the holidays when your home is decorated, photographs will include the seasonal items. If your home does not sell before the holidays are over, consider having new pictures done to promote the property. Note that seeing holiday decorations in mid-January will indicate to buyers that the home has been on the market for a while.

Photo trends… When it comes to photographs, one new trend we saw in 2020 is the twilight photoshoot. The images taken at this time of day create a charming glow from the inside of the house.

They can really highlight some of the best features of your home, such as large bay windows, fabulous front doors, spacious patios. During this winter season, when trees are bare and the grass is brown, daytime photos may appear bland. Some carefully hung white outdoor lights accenting a patio, or pathway lighting highlighted in a twilight photoshoot can really make the drab appear fab!

In short, inside decor? Tasteful displays in selected places; less is more and be very intentional about what you’re calling attention to.

Outside decor? Think accent lighting and bows, and — you guessed it — less is more.

How about now?… 2020 may be the exception, so enjoy it! Buyers are looking, and there’s not much to look at. Be intentional with the decorations and you can blend your holiday highlights with the needs of a staged home. As always of late, make sure there are booties, hand sanitizer and masks for showings, and know that — like any other time of year — flexibility will be important.

Wishing you a successful selling holiday season!

Rebecca McCullough has built a successful real estate business in Alexandria and Northern Virginia by providing excellent service to her clients. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Rebecca today at 571-384-0941 or visit her website RebeccaMcCullough.com.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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