Does the Real Estate Market Hibernate for the Holiday Season?

J Philip Faranda November 28, 2011

Open house sign in the snowWith the weather in Westchester County (presumably) changing as Winter approaches, we in the real estate business have grown to expect a cyclical slowdown in our industry starting around the holidays and stretching into the colder weather. The arrival of autumn has caused anxiety for many a seller, fearing that they’ll sit unsold until the spring thaw, and some go as far as pulling their home off the market for a few months because they feel it just isn’t worth it to try this time of year. I know of few real estate agents who would ever disagree that things do slow down as the holidays arrive.

Does everyone stop buying homes as winter approaches? Do the buyers dry up and hibernate themselves? Some do. But it may be an ill-advised move to give up until March if you do want to sell.

The volume of calls and inquiries does drop this time of year, as does inventory. But the people who remain in the market during the holidays and winter months are often far more serious about doing business than some of their springtime counterparts. I would go so far as to say that it isn’t that spring has more buyers significantly, but it sure does have more lookers. Sincere, motivated buyers don’t wear a special insignia, so we accommodate everyone. But in the holiday season, the pedigree of buyer does tend to be more serious and motivated.

That stands to reason- why would a casual looker, the professional gawker type, and the speculative bargain hunter take time from the holidays to pursue their hobby? Christmas in New York is pretty cool and can distract if you aren’t a truly serious buyer. So, the herd does thin, leaving only the heartier souls. The more motivated buyer does press on through the holidays and cold weather. And not everyone is tethered to the traditional school year pattern.

If you are selling, and you get a request to show your home in December or in severe winter weather, let them in. Nobody wades through snow and holiday crowds lightly; they are more serious buyers. They may be relocating due to work. They may have finally sold their own place and need to get a new one. It doesn’t matter. In real estate, err on the side of possibility. People can’t buy what they don’t see, and if they are out when most others aren’t, they often have a very good reason.

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