Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


If You Have To Sell Over The Holidays

 Conventional wisdom says to avoid listing your house between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Nobody looks then except for the Scroogiest of the bottom fishers.  

Oh, yeah?

So, is there any way to make the best of trying to sell a house when everyone is at the mall buying Christmas presents?

Yesterday, I showed a house that really made a case for decking the halls and the For Sale sign.  It’s a pretty place to begin with.  The big, healthy, tastefully decorated tree looked and smelled wonderful.  There was greenery on the mantel.  The dining room table had festive candles, and I was waiting for the stuffed goose to materialize.  

This house was a shameless flirt – I couldn’t imagine it looking more inviting at any other time of the year.  I’m convinced someone will buy it before Christmas.  

Bottom line?  It depends a lot on a sellers’ motivation to sell.  It’s hard to deal with the invasions during a time of the year when you cherish your privacy.

A lot of agents try to take the month off  to spend time with their families, but there are agents like me who work like a dog during December.  

There may be fewer people out there looking, but those who are looking are likely to be as motivated as sellers willing to open their homes during this festive season.  

If you do have to have your home on the market over the holidays, you’ll have it listed during a time of year when it’s likely to look it’s absolute best.  That could be a plus that helps you get your place sold for top dollar.

Comment balloon 60 commentsPatricia Kennedy • November 28 2007 04:04AM


Patricia... AND buyers out looking this time of year are the most serious of any time of year.

After note:  Fun is good.   That is part of our requirement when working with people.  If they're not fun, they're not for us!  :-)
Posted by Carol Williams, Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager (Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals.) over 12 years ago
Go the extra mile, Patricia!  I like how you are having fun during the holidays!  I will be out there working for half the month too!!!
Posted by Chris Tertzagian (Carolina One Real Estate) over 12 years ago

With the agents who like to convince themselves that this is not the time of year to work, I say thank makes it easier for those of us to go and sell property. I feel this is a perfect time of year to sell. As Carol said...the buyers that are out this time of year are serious!

So, let's go make some extra spending money while the others are taking time off :)

Posted by Cris Burlew, Broker ~ St Pete Beach FL Real Estate (Beach & Luxury Realty, Inc.) over 12 years ago

I agree, Motivated buyers shop durig the holidays and this is whe the home looks the best creating an emotional decision. I wonder, do buyers buy from emotion :)

Posted by Brett Noel (Keller Williams) over 12 years ago

I agree, Motivated buyers shop durig the holidays and this is whe the home looks the best creating an emotional decision. I wonder, do buyers buy from emotion :)

Posted by Brett Noel (Keller Williams) over 12 years ago
Patricia, I think you have a winner...after all...who can resist a "shameless flirt"? ;=)  I LOVE that description!
Posted by Linda Scanlan (A Fan of AR) over 12 years ago
Patricai, I love it a house as a "shamelss flirt."  Well I hope it courts a serious buyere for you very soon.
Posted by Ginger S, Wilmington NC Real Estate & Relocation~ (Wilkinson & Associates, Wilmington NC) over 12 years ago
Hi Patricia:  I have found that December can be a great time to sell a home.  The buyers who are out in the market looking for homes... are not just out there because they're bored.  If you get a call in December... you can be pretty sure they are serious buyers.  Go for it !
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 12 years ago
I actually do better in November and December than any other time of the year, because so many agents believe that old saying that you take November and December and it just makes the listings and buyers easy pickings for me!
Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) over 12 years ago
Patricia, I agree.  I do well during the holiday season.  You are right, the buyers are more serious buyers and the sellers seem to be more willing. Great post.
Posted by Kay Perry (Kay Perry, Broker) over 12 years ago
Patricia, I also agree!  Buyers out during the holiday season are motivated to buy.  My partner and I showed one house yesterday and took a purchase offer on it.  We also listed a house yesterday.  This is not a time of year that I would take off!
Posted by Joseph Ellman (Realty Executives- Williams-Sykes Realty) over 12 years ago

Who wants to open their home during the holidays or worse, look at other people's homes during the worst traffic and weather of the year! 

The most motivated people, that's who!

If a buyer is looking now, they are motivated, in most situations!

Posted by Joshua Jarvis, Moving Families Forward. (Virtual Properties - Atlanta Real Estate) over 12 years ago
What else can I say? Buyers looking in MI in the winter and holidays are motivated or they wouldn't be out trumping in the snow and cold. I wrote an offer on Christmas Eve once.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 12 years ago
Patricia, we are always busy during Christmas. I tell my clients that we sell homes during the holidays. We remained busy last year right up through August and then our numbers went down. We are seeing increased activity right now with buyers. Last Christmas Eve, I had a walk-in and we were in contract 3 days later. It's good. 
Posted by Jeanean Gendron, Specializing in Selling Unique Properties (The Address Realty) over 12 years ago
I think it is a great time to have your house on the market - Generally your house looks the most inviting during this time - Decoration, and the smells.  And people that are out looking at properties at this time are generally very serous.  It's a great market.
Posted by Vincent McKamy, Realtor Fredericksburg Virginia (Samson Properties) over 12 years ago
Great post. I agree buyers who look at this time are serious and homes look inviting.I love to do an open house at this time.
Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 12 years ago
Patricia,  I couldn't agree more.  My very first sale (10 yrs ago) was made between Christmas & New Years and we did the engineering inspection New Year's Day.  I'm not sure I'd give up a holiday to do an inspection now, but it was an exciting first.   I think a house decorated tastefully for the holidays reveals just how much a "home" it is and can be for the new buyers.
Posted by Suzanne Stevens - Hudson Valley Real Estate - KW over 12 years ago
PATRICIA:  Congrats on the feature. I have shown homes during most summer holidays and will show anyone a home during this season if they are interested.  You're right about these being motivated buyers, because so many buyers decide to take the season off also and start fresh after the new year.  Personally, I would rather show homes before the new year than in January or February when it's snowy.  It becomes very messy going in and out of homes.  I'll still do it, but I prefer now.
Posted by Adam Waldman, Realtor - Long Island (Westcott Group Real Estate Company) over 12 years ago

Selling real estate in a resort community like Hilton Head makes for a different type of holiday market.  We get plenty of visitors to the island during Thanksgiving and Christmas so I always encourage my sellers to be active during these times.  Hope you get that house sold.

Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) over 12 years ago

I couldn't agree more. In New York there is a window this time of year because come January there is all that bonus money around looking to buy. Last year I had a buyer that made an offer on Christmas Eve on new construction that turned out to be a great deal. By the time it closed in the Spring it appraised higher and comparable units were selling for more. The developer offered concessions.

The year before I had a listing that a buyer saw 2 weeks before Christmas at my Open House. He called on Christmas Eve from the airport on his way to Puerto Rico for the holiday and made an offer. We had a contract by January 2nd.

Everyone is in a buying mood for the holidays....why not buy a home?

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) over 12 years ago
Hi Patricia:  The soft, glowing twinkle-lights at Christmas time can easily lure someone in with their warmth and glitter.  I spent Christmas eve last year submitting an offer (like Missy).  People are serious in these parts if they are out looking.  
Posted by Ed Vogt, Grandville, MI Midwest Properties (Midwest Properties of Michigan) over 12 years ago
You are right on target. Looking at MLS figures will ususally show only a 20-30% dip in December. And most agents are taking it easy! It IS a great time to list and a great time to be working!!!! Nice post
Posted by Joeann Fossland, Master Certified Coach to Motivated Agents (Advantage Solutions Group) over 12 years ago

Carol, this is turning into a great season for me!  I've got buyers who are really serious and fun!

Chris, I'll take time off in January!  

Cris, back in 1983 as a new agent, I had my first million dollar month in December - and back then a million was a good year.  So the habit stuck!  

Brett, buying is always an emotional decision, and you're right!  The holiday atmosphere really helps out! 

Linda and Ginger, thanks for the compliment!  And I think that people pick houses with the same little chemicals that help them pick mates!

And Karen Anne, I totally agree!  


Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 12 years ago

I could not agree more!  Less competition, motivated sellers, serious buyers!  Make December on of your best months of the year!

Be of service!  The rewards will come!


Posted by So true! over 12 years ago

Todd, the inventory is a little lower, and you're right, the lack of competition compensates big time.

Kay, sellers are probably getting fewer showing, so they are really glad to see you, and even happier if you return with an offer!

Joseph, So true, and you know, the same might be true of August.

Joshua, and if you get really lucky, they want to settle by the end of the years!

Missy, at least we don't have snow and cold - yet.  Just drizzle and chill!

Jeanean,  I wonder if some of these buyers might be driven by a concern that prices actually might go up at the first of the year?


Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 12 years ago

Hi Patricia, Great job! Thanks for the encouragement and insight!  It is good to hear from people with a "can do" attitude.



Posted by Denise Shockey, Cocoa Beach, Brevard County Florida Real Estate (RE/MAX Aerospace Realty) over 12 years ago

Hi Patricia,

I sold a lot of closing gifts during December last year. It was quite a pleasant surprise! Must be something to it.



Posted by Diane Adler over 12 years ago
Patricia, this was lovely and also very very timely.  You have such a wonderful way with words.  Yes it is a great time to have your home on the market!
Posted by Kris Wales, Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI (Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center) over 12 years ago
I will be out in December-showing homes and hopefully writing contracts.
Posted by Steve Glose, TRC, CIPS, 407-616-7286, Orlando Real Estate, Orla (Keller Williams Classic Group) over 12 years ago
Patricia, December is a great time of year for real estate.  Less agents actually working, so more business for us.  I always remind my clients that homes sell just about every day of the year.  Why wait?
Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) over 12 years ago


I love working this time of the year. Maybe it's just the spirit of the season or they're so pre-occupied with other things, but I find that people are a lot easier to deal with. Happy holidays!!

Posted by Andrew Trevino, Wilkes-Barre Homes For Sale (ADT Real Estate) over 12 years ago



What an interesting comment you made:  "people pick houses with the same little chemicals that help them pick mates!"  I will have to think about that one for a while, and I am sure you are right on target.  Excellent post!



Posted by Jan Evett over 12 years ago
Great point ... all homes sell on PTC Price, Terms and Condition ... what better time to have your home in great condition than the holidays
Posted by Allen C. Wright, NS, AHS, REPS (RealtyU) over 12 years ago

I've never relied much on "conventional wisdom" whatever that is, to sell real estate.

The best time to sell your house is when someone wants to buy it and that time comes as readily on December 15th as it does on April 15th.

When someone wants to buy a house with me my policy is to let them.  ;-)

Posted by Jim Lee, Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH (RE/MAX Shoreline) over 12 years ago
I find many relocation buyers here around the holidays.  They are definitely ready, willing and able.
Posted by Alayna Berek (Adams Realty) over 12 years ago
Buyers don't hibernate during winter, agents do!  Seller's should ABSOLUTELY have their houses on the market while everyone else takes a hiatus.  I would recommend to sellers that they scale back a little on the potpourry (sp?) though--it's a killer on allergies.
Posted by Amanda Evans, Real Estate Broker - Fort Worth Texas (DFW Living) over 12 years ago
Yes, I agree. I blogged abot it myself recently and got similar responses. "Shameless flirt" perfect description.
Posted by Craig W. Barrett, Hughesville MD Real Estate (RE/MAX 100) over 12 years ago
Patricia- I sold a home on Christmas eve. If people are out looking they really have a need at this time. I tell my seller that anyone coming into their home is a possible sale. This is a good time to be working hard because so many agents are on vacation. Go the extra mile don't take your home off. If you wait until spring your home will spring up with a lot more homes for buyers to pick from. Stay focused on getting the home sold. We can work around closing dates that work for each other.
Posted by Debby Thompson, Homestead Realty REALTOR Wisc (Homestead Realty Inc) over 12 years ago
Boy do I agree.  The holidays are a great time to sell your home.  And I actually have my best month of the year in December - every year for 15 years now.  I think a lot of it is our attitudes!  I love Christmas and I really enjoy showing homes that are decorated for the holidays.  Plus nothing says "HOME" to a buyer more than a beautifully decorated home with the scents of the holidays.  Great post!
Posted by Lori Mode, Real Estate Made Simple (The Mode Real Estate Group) over 12 years ago

Patricia-  Greats points made here and by the comments.  I remember being on the phone and working offers on Christmas eve as well.  The serious buyers are just that serious buyers!

It also OK to tell your sellers - to decorate their homes.  The department stores dont decorate just because - it put people in the holiday shopping mood!

Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) over 12 years ago
The best thing about December is that the buyers in the market are also motivated.  Tire kickers abound during the spring, but those that are looking now are hardcore. 
Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 12 years ago
My selling experience during the month of Nov. and Dec. have been great. Last December (Christ mas Eve) 2 couples walked in to my office and wanted to buy a home. They did't have any children in tow so We all went together lokking at home after deciding that they both needed to stay in the same price range. Lucky me I found 2 houses right across the street from each other and wrote a contract for both couples. They were overjoyed and became best friends and still live across the street from each other. A super Christmas Eve for me!!
Posted by Renate C21 over 12 years ago

Bravo. I read an article yesterday (not on AR) that advocated all sellers taking their homes off the market during the holiday season. I don't agree with that at all. Any season can be the right season to sell your home. I've written offers on Christmas eve and helped my sellers sell and close in December as well. In fact, some buyers of mine wrote an offer a week ago on their new house...if these homes were off the market, both sellers and buyers would have missed out!

I once had a client that insisted on taking her condo off temporarily during the holidays (she didn't want to keep it clean or accommodate showings). I must have had 4 calls during that one week with people wanting to see it but she refused. Crazy!

Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) over 12 years ago
I agree this is a great time to sell, most houses look great this time of year and buyers looking now are more nostalgic.
Posted by Christina Bennani-Persechini, Realtor - The House For You (Keller Williams Realty Boston North West) over 12 years ago
Patricia- down here it is the opposite! The season is Nov to April. That is the time we sell the most, list the most, and buyers come and buy the most! Katerina
Posted by Katerina Gasset, Get It Done For Me Virtual Services (Get It Done For Me Virtual Services ) over 12 years ago
Usually Thanksgiving to Christmas is slow, but all of us on the Simms Team are writing contracts - people who want to close this year - to establish Florida homestead before January 1.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 12 years ago

There are always buyers out and staging that house with xmas decorations  is a great idea.


Posted by Jeff Kessler, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Austin Homes, Realtors over 12 years ago

Vincent, I don't know if you have a whole foods in your area, but they are selling pine cones that smell like really good spiced tea.  That and a tree are a great combination, although I'm usually not great on adding gratuitous smells to a place.

Gita, I agree totally.  Mine sure are serious!  They're wearing me out!

Suzanne, I have some people who want to look at stuff early in the day on Christmas Eve, and I thought about saying no until I read some of these comments, including yours!

Adam, what you say about the weather applies here, too.  It rarely snows a lot before January and I hate sliding around on ice.

Diane, I like to go to the northern-ish beaches over winter holidays.  You get to meet the people who actually live there!

And Mitchell, it's funny how local real estate is.  In New York, the bonus thing runs the show after the first of the year.  Since the government worker bonuses are squat (at least compared to Wall Street) it doesn't have a huge impact here.  Even the big law firms seem to put more into salaries than bonuses. 


Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 12 years ago

Ed, this house did in fact have soft white twinkle lights on the tree.

Joann and Matt, if you don't have children or if they are grown and out of the nest, there is not excuse for holiday goofing off!

Thanks, Densie!  Go get 'em!

Diane, it's the time of year when agents are trying to think up cool stuff to give their clients, so make hay!

Kris, your right, but I think it's better to buy in December than try to sell.  I'd rather have my sellers wait until after the holidays unless they really have to move a place, because here, that's when more buyers seem to show up.

Steve, you're lucky down there because you don't have the crummy weather we have further north!

Brian, I'd still rather be writing offers for buyers than presenting offers to sellers in December.  Wait.  That came out wrong!  I have this listing at 1717 T St NW and I would love to present an offer on that in December or any other time!  Write one and I will name you in mt will!  You can have Willy-th-hyper-active-Labradoodle puppy!

Andrew, maybe we're all a bit jollier around the holidays!






Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 12 years ago

Great post, I am looking forward to showing decorated homes to my buyers and decorating with my sellers. Its a beautiful time of year!! I also serve cookies and Cocoa light candles and play holiday music...  Nothing like a little Nat King Cole.

Include a decorated tree and ornaments for closing gift!

Posted by Katharine Carey (eXp Realty) over 12 years ago

Jan, the chemicals are actually called "pheromones"  and I swear that some houses have them and others don't.

Allen, Woo Hoo!  Deck the Halls!

Jim, you are right.  Conventional knowledge is way over-rated! 

Alayna, now that's Christmas shopping!  

Amanda, I totally agree with you on the  pot pourri thing.  We don't all have the same idea of what a good smell is!  See, I get turned on by garlic saute in butter!  

Craig, it's a line I've used before and it sort of fits this house more than most.

Debbie, It's fun to go into the new year with settlements on the books, isn't it?

Lori, I am having a hard time finding a few spare hours to find a tree, trim it, and plan my client party!  Ykies!

And James,  ok, I am showing property to my Tennessee people like they want on Christmas Eve!  You're about the eighth person who's given themselves a deal for Christmas!  My family doesn't show up until Christmas late morning anyway, and my shopping is done.





Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 12 years ago
Ha! ! !   That "conventional wisdom" will have some meaning when we get back to a "conventional" market. 
Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 12 years ago
Yes I have two buyers right now who want to "be in before the end of the year" and I hope it will happen for them!  It is true when your house is all glammed out for the Holidays - it looks great and really like a home!
Posted by Emily Lowe, Nashville TN Realtor (The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty) over 12 years ago
Patricia ~ I think this time of the year is an excellent time of the year to have a home listed since, as Carol stated, the serious buyers are the ones who are out looking. I've even purchased a home in December since at my old company, the week between Christmas and New Year's the company closed each year. It was an excellent time for me to get settled into my new home and be ready for the upcoming year - without having to take time off work.
Posted by Darleen McCullen, Broker - Raleigh, NC Real Estate over 12 years ago
Patricia - Besides the fact that if you are in by 12/31, you can claim Homestead Exemption next year, what better Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Whatever else gift than a new home?????
Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 12 years ago
Patricia, yes we are at it again. December is shaping up to be one of those months. I thought I could go and play golf in the morning, but my buyers have other plans. I think the people who are in the market this time of year are the best. They will buy. I treat November and December just like any other month of the year. Great post.
Posted by Frank Rubi, (Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC) over 12 years ago
Who can resist beautiful Christmas decorations and a wonderfully decorated home?
Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) over 12 years ago
I made two very nice sales last December and I have one in the "hopper" right now.  December can be a busy time with the right property at the right price!
Posted by Eric Kodner, CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 - (Madeline Island Realty) over 12 years ago
 Some buyers actually buy at this time of the year for one good reason: Tax breaks. Or if they have a 1031 like kind tax exchange property and they have to buy a property before the 180 days exchange period expires. Great post patricia.
Posted by Lanre-"THE REAL ESTATE FARMER" Folayan, I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES (Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC) over 12 years ago
Your serious hard core buyers and sellers are usually the ones making deals during this time period. Now we need serious realtors (like yourself) to do the same. 
Posted by Robert L. Brown, Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic ( over 12 years ago