The holiday season is here, and with it the mass amounts of consumer shopping tied to gift-giving, or just personal spending at a discounted price. While terms like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are synonymous with post-Thanksgiving consumer spending sparked by widespread sales, real estate shoppers are no strangers to home-buying during the holiday season, regardless of their location.
With seasonal real estate transactions come serious buyers and sellers who are ultra-motivated to spend their money and close quickly.
“Many times, when you have clients who are looking during the holidays, they are really serious buyers. After all, most people are out shopping or preparing for the family feast,” says Nancy Lulejian Starczyk, president of the Southland Regional Association of REALTORS® in Van Nuys, Calif. “Additionally, the buyer may need to buy before the year is out, or they want to be in their new home to bring in the new year.”
Sarah Gustafson, president of the REALTOR® Association of Central Massachusetts, agrees with motivation being the underlying factor for those who stick around in a winter market.
“You have less inventory, but the inventory that you have is more motivated,” says Gustafson. “With snow and muddy boots coming through a home, sellers won’t put their home on the market unless they are motivated. And the same goes for buyers—if they are out at this time of year, they are very motivated.”
Often, the motivation stems from buyers who just want to get into a home before Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or other holidays. And sellers want it done and closed by end of year, which is especially true for luxury or distressed properties, according to Bruce Elliot, president of the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association.
In some instances, the added motivation of sellers and buyers leads to smoother and faster closings during the holiday season.
“Sellers who are willing to be in ‘show condition’ during the holidays are just as serious as the buyers who are looking. It’s a great time for both parties to be open to negotiating a mutually acceptable and timely sale,” says Lulejian Starczyk.
During this time of year, many markets are also dealing with tight inventory, which adds a competitive twist for buyers that have to deal with multiple offer situations. The impetus for selling can also be heightened in states that experience a noticeable drop in temperature during the winter months.
“The one thing that is really driving the market is the lack of inventory,” says Matt Akers, owner and managing broker of Rainbow Realty and president of the Lafayette Regional Association of REALTORS® in Indiana. “I think the people that are going ahead and putting their homes on the market [are] trying to get through the winter.”
Holiday homebuyers, just like the swarms of Black Friday midnight shoppers, tend to be part of the younger generations, although sources say all types of homebuyers are looking for similar things, regardless of time of year.
“Millennials now outnumber the baby boomers. And interestingly enough, they are both looking for the same features in the home. Both are looking for walkability to shopping, entertainment, restaurants, transit and medical facilities,” says Lulejian Starczyk.
Of course, this can differ by location. In Florida, for instance, the baby boomer generation is flocking toward warmer weather during the winter months in search of retirement properties.
“In some areas outside of Orlando, it’s a seasonal spike in the retirement areas. The snowbirds are coming down and their activity is picking up. Seasonal rent literally doubles,” says Elliot.
Holiday home-buying also puts consumers in a different state of mind. Akers believes reverse psychology comes into play, stating that winter buyers come up with opposing views of summer buyers to find reasons to buy and tough it out in a slow market.
Since the home-buying and -selling is happening during such a sale-centric time of year, both sides are looking for a good deal. And according to real estate professionals, that doesn’t always mean the best price.
“A great deal is when you walk away from closing and you’re thrilled,” says Akers, clarifying that today’s buyers and sellers have more than enough information to determine whether they are getting a fair deal because of the available technology and internet sources. “There are a lot of educated buyers and sellers out there. They know more than they’ve ever have,” he adds.
Lulejian Starczyk, on the other hand, says being aware of comps and working with an agent is essential to getting a good deal.
“Knowing the market and paying a ‘fair market value’ is always advisable,” she says, emphasizing that hiring a REALTOR® is the only way to ensure that consumers have the data necessary for making an informed purchasing or selling decision.
Meanwhile, Elliot believes a good deal is tied to a positive emotional response. “The emotion and the excitement is long forgotten when buying the wrong home. [Real estate] is an emotional process, and as long as it’s the right home for the client, and meets the family’s needs, there is no perfect everything.”
While homes don’t necessarily have reduced price tags on them during the holidays like electronics do on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, there is a heightened sense of urgency and an impact on a transaction’s dynamics when buying or selling during this time of year. Many agents look forward to the holiday season because of the opportunities afforded by less inventory and the added drive.
“It’s my favorite time of the year to do business because everyone is so motivated,” says Gustafson.
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.
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