Taking it Off the Market: Pro’s and Con’s

Perhaps the number one question realtors field from Sellers this time of year is, “should I take my home off the market for the holidays?” (Question number two? “Should I wait until after the holidays — or even Spring — to put my home on the market?”).

Assuming that you don’t know whether the market is going to be weaker or stronger in six months — if you do, I’d like to talk to you ASAP! — the analysis goes something like this.

Leave it On

The best three arguments for keeping your home on the market are as follows.

One. Buyer quality over quantity. The only way to get an offer is to get showings. To get showings . . your home needs to be on the market. Put another way: while it may be true that a relatively small percentage of homes on the market sell during the holidays, 100% of homes not on the market will fail to sell. Or if you prefer, “if your parents don’t have children, you won’t either.”

According to conventional wisdom, there may be fewer Buyers looking during the holidays, but the ones who are, are more motivated. The motivation can be a job relocation, an imminent new family member, an expiring lease, etc. Regardless, if someone is taking time away from family and friends to look at your home, in a “weather-challenged” time of year, they’re probably serious.

Two. Less Competition. The second reason to stay on the market is supply-related. I like to tell clients that the Spring market kicks off when Target switches from selling gloves to selling swimsuits — usually, around mid-Feb. Plenty of Sellers plan to relax over the holidays, then immediately afterwards start whipping their house into shape so they’re ready by mid-Feb. I’m working with several of them now.

If you don’t want to compete with that looming new supply . . . sell before it hits the market.

Three. Holiday cheer: the best staging!

Even though it can be dark and cold, some homes truly look their best during the holidays. Holiday lights and decorations, cooking for company, etc. can all combine to fill your home with the emotional qualities that Buyers find especially inviting. Buyers want to buy homes that they fall in love with, and all the trappings associated with the holidays can make that easier.

Take it Off

The three-part case for taking your home off the market is as follows:

One. It’s inconvenient and intrusive. The same entertaining that can make a home especially appealing over the holidays can make it an inconvenient time to clear out for a showing.

Ditto for trying to keep your home pristine on the off chance that a prospective Buyer may want to see it.

Two. Leverage. Trying to sell something when few people are buying can look desperate. And Buyers tend not to make especially strong offers to Sellers who look desperate.

Three. It’s demoralizing. If the odds are against you . . take a break! Without a big “For Sale” sign in your front lawn, it needn’t be the first topic of conversation at all those holiday gatherings you’ll be busy hosting. Too, demoralized Sellers tend to have “demoralized” homes: dark, a bit unkempt (vs. kempt), and generally not fresh and welcoming.

Personal Circumstances

Ultimately, the decision about whether to take a property off the market or leave it on is house-specific and Seller-specific.

If you are being transferred out-of-state Jan. 1, you probably leave your home on.

On the other hand, if you’ve had all of three showings since Labor Day, my advice would be to temporarily take your home off the market (thankfully, none of my sellers are in this predicament!).

Use the holidays to make some cost-effective improvements, then bring it back on closer to Feb., at a more attractive price — ideally, coupled with a big marketing push.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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