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Ask McEnearney: Should I list 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 during the holidays?

Answer: At this time of year, we get 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, sellers are often inclined to wait until the new year. But should they? Serious buyers are still out there looking. They are still waiting for the right home to come on the market.

It is true we often see an influx of listings and buyers in January. Holidays have a way of making people evaluate their home. We need more room! We need to downsize so we don’t have to host any more. They got engaged or for many other reasons. So, with more buyers, comes more competition. Smart buyers who are looking now will gobble up good listings coming on the market before the new year.

What does demand look like now? Even though interest rates just reached a 20-year high (fortunately they softened slightly), we still have significant demand for good houses priced well. The need to sell isn’t always something that can be timed. Jobs change, people can no longer take care of their homes, families grow, and lifestyles change.

What we saw during the COVID market was opportunity. With interest rates so low, it seemed like everyone wanted to move, and many did. Now they are happily sitting on very low interest rates and are no longer motivated to go anywhere. Even those who didn’t move took advantage of the low rates and refinanced.

So, if the timing is such that you do need or want to sell now, know there are still many frustrated buyers out there still looking for a home. There may not be as many buyers at this time of year, but the ones out there are motivated!

Great, you’ve decided to list (thank you!), what do you do about holiday décor? Do you go Christmas Vacation style to bring in lots of interest, or keep the holiday décor packed away? The answer lies somewhere in between. Nobody expects sellers to hide the season just because you’re selling, but this might not be the year to go for the neighborhood decorating award.

Keeping decorations simple, and understated, while still honoring your family customs, is perfectly acceptable. Subtle and understated is the way to go, always keeping the guidelines of staging in mind. Accent the best features in your home. 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 decorations to accent areas of the home you want the buyer to see.

This time of year, it’s fabulous to play up the warmth in a home. The smell of fresh baked cookies, glowing flameless candles, and seasonal floral arrangements create the ambience to make buyers want to stay.

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, you may want to consider having new pictures taken to promote the property in the new year. Even if the decorations brought out the best of your home during the holidays, seeing them in mid-January will remind buyers the home has been on the market for a while and may create red flags.

When it comes to photographs, consider a twilight photoshoot. The images taken at this time of day create a charming glow from the inside of the house. They can really show off some of the best features of your home. Large bay windows, fabulous front doors, spacious patios. Now that the trees are bare and the grass is brown, daytime photos may appear bland, but 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 Summary

Outside lights? Think accent lighting and bows, and less endless light strings row-on-rows.

Inside decor? Tasteful displays in selected places, not every last bobble in all of your spaces.

Gramma’s traditional home-made wahovit? Maybe keep a space in the closet to move it!

So, is selling now, during the holidays, a good idea? This year, absolutely. Buyers are looking, and there’s not much to look at. Be careful, and sensible with the decorations, and you can still blend your holiday highlights with the needs of a staged home. Make sure there are booties and hand sanitizer and know 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

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. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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