An article written by Trulia’s Tara-Nicholle Nelson entitled “6 Effects the Holidays Have on Your Local Real Estate Market” provides some interesting insights into how the December-January holidays impact the Real Estate market.  We agree with Ms Nelson that marketing becomes even more important during this time of year when some buyers and sellers may be spending their energy on parties, holiday celebrations and family instead of on selling or buying a home.  She also points out that while competition for homes may lessen because most people stop looking as intensely as they do at other times of the year, those who are seriously committed and ready to act are poised to make their move.

Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, California. photo from The Huffington Post San Francisco edition

Sellers, you are probably wondering how to make sure your home attracts one of these motivated buyers. We asked SFhotlist founder and top San Francisco real estate agent Danielle Lazier what types of things San Francisco home sellers should consider when planning to list their home for sale during the end-of-year holiday season. (We were relieved to see that wearing one of those “ugly Christmas” sweaters was not on the list!)

1. Do you plan to be out of town for the Holidays? The upside to being away: it opens up the showing schedule for private showings without  inconveniencing you if you still reside in your home. When your home is more available for showings, it’s easier for potential buyers to fit a viewing into their busy holiday schedule.  The downside: communication with your agent may require extra effort if there is a timezone difference or if your vacation makes you hard to reach.

2. Do your holiday plans include having guests staying with you? If yes, it may be a better choice to list your home in the new year so you don’t have to displace your guests during Open Houses or private viewings. In addition, switching your home from a  pristine, staged, designer-like showroom to an inviting, festively-decorated and warm environment isn’t always easy.

3. Ask your agent told if he or she will be out of town or unavailable at specific times during the holidays. Real Estate agents have personal lives (sshhh, don’t tell anyone!) and although many work “24/7″, this time of year is a bit different than other holidays.  If your agent is going away or has told you she/he will be not be working on certain days, ask if there will be someone covering the  business during those times.  If he/she does not have a backup plan, request one be arranged – you want all inquiries and offers to be acted on in a timely fashion.  The same goes for vendors working on your house to prep it for sale – painters, contractors, stagers, etc.

4. Talk to your agent about making your home an”off market” listing – this means not having to do a full marketing campaign or holding open houses while still giving your home valuable exposure. Don’t underestimate the power of a strong network. If inventory is low like it is now and your home is in a great location, this strategy can work to sell your home.

As Danielle Lazier explains, “Actually, the holidays are usually a busy time for our team. We have buyers who are serious about finding a home for the new year.  We also have sellers who want to use our network to create pre-MLS buzz without starting the  ‘days on market’ clock by putting it on the MLS during a traditionally slower time of year.  Using the Top Agent Network (TAN), Zephyr Real Estate and my top colleagues at a variety of San Francisco real estate companies, I’ve done successful off-market sales during the holidays. For example, I listed a house in prime Noe Valley in early December 2011. We opted to market it as a pocket listing and see what I could do within my networks. If it didn’t sell, my clients agreed to get the staging and full MLS exposure in January. Not only did I sell the home in a week, I got more money for my Sellers than our mutual, best-case projections AND they saved $10-15k on staging and home fixups! ”

That sounds like a fantastic way to ring in the New Year !

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