Common wisdom suggests Oregon home sales should decline during the holidays. At first glance, this makes sense, given Oregon’s gloomier weather, less daylight and for many, a general aversion to adding yet one more task to an already overloaded holiday schedule. However, there’s a compelling case that the time surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s is among the most active seasons of all…and for a variety of reasons you might not have considered.
But is there really any truth behind such a counter-intuitive dynamic, or is it simply a lot of hype? And what possible rationale could there be to suggest that both home buyers and home sellers are more energized and ready to ‘sign on the dotted line’ during the holiday season, compared to other times of year? Holiday House Hunt Hysteria: Hot or Hoax? Find out—in this edition of the Oregon Real Estate Podcast!
Why Winter is Special
While there’s a case to be made for home buying and home selling in each of the four seasons, Winter is actually one of the best times sellers can have their home on the market and when buyers might get their best deal.
Holiday Sellers Face Fewer Competing Properties
Viewed over multiple year periods, Oregon housing inventory is often at its lowest during the holidays. This unique situation presents some special opportunities, especially for sellers, where one advantage is less competition from other home sellers. This can tend to make a ho-hum market good, or a good market hot.
It’s more convenient to sell in the Spring and Summer, especially in Oregon. The weather is usually better, flowers are blooming and with plenty of home buyers looking. The bottom line is that it’s generally more of a ‘target-rich environment’ for sellers seeking buyers, who enjoy the fact that there are more homes to consider.
Yet while it’s easier and more convenient to sell in sunny weather and there are more buyers looking then, this convenience often comes at the cost of increased competition from other sellers. Another factor is that not all buyers who look during Spring are motivated. Conversely, Winter home sellers can expect less competition from like-minded sellers competing for buyers. And the buyers looking around the holiday? They are generally very motivated. So just like the successful contrarian investor who sells when everyone else is not, avoiding a ‘herd mentality’ can pay off with a better deal, whether you’re buying or selling.
The Motivation Factor
For a home buyer to be looking around the holidays and for a home seller to be selling during this same season, there’s usually a good reason. Otherwise, there are plenty of excuses for choosing a different time of the year to buy or sell. Let’s take a closer look at what can be some motivating factors for both buyers and sellers.
For home buyers to get a better-than-average deal on their home purchase, much can hinge on one main factor. Namely, how motivated is the seller? For home buyers fortunate to locate their dream property with a very willing seller, that’s akin to receiving some extra, very nice presents under the Christmas tree.
What drives homeseller motivation? Sometimes a seller is eager to close out an estate, or benefit from an end-of-year tax situation. Another reason is seller-fatigue, where the goal is to simply end the process and move forward with one’s life. For some, homeselling can seem like living in a fishbowl. When sellers tire of the process, buyers can sometimes find themselves working with a grateful seller.
Is your idea of fun getting into a cold car on drizzly nights to look at houses in the dark? Probably not…unless you just got a job transfer. Or a nice raise. Or you received an inheritance. Or you just added another child to your family. Or you really want to get out of your tiny apartment. It’s helpful for prospective Winter sellers to know that corporate relocations and family changes can occur anytime and estates are settled year around, as well. These all add up to some good reasons why prospective home buyers hit the road in the dead of Winter in search of their next home.
By The Numbers
Here are ten reasons why the holiday season can be a very good time for real estate.
- It’s A Unique Market.
Homes often sell faster and for more money in Winter. One way to understand why is by considering a motorist with a flat tire in bad weather. That motorist has an urgent need and is less likely to haggle, or even seriously consider less expensive options in order to meet an immediate need. Winter home buyers can experience the same kind of urgency and this helps to explain the premium that homes can command during the real estate ‘off season.’ Another way to look at the Winter market dynamic is if you want to buy snowshoes in July (at least in Oregon), expect to pay more, since availability is typically lower.
- High Quality Buyers.
Because home touring is generally less convenient, there tend to be fewer ‘Lookie-Lou’s’ during the Winter. This means Oregon Winter homesellers have fewer buyers tracking dirt into their house, with less energy spent preparing for real estate ‘tire-kickers.’
- Less Competition.
Let’s face facts: It’s convenient to sell in the Spring and Summer, especially in Oregon. The weather is usually better, flowers are blooming and with plenty of home buyers looking, it’s a ‘target-rich environment.’ Yet while it’s easier and more convenient to sell in sunny weather, this convenience often comes at the cost of increased competition from other sellers. Conversely, Winter home sellers can expect fewer like-minded sellers competing for buyers. Just like the successful contrarian investor who sells when everyone else is not, avoiding a ‘herd mentality’ can pay off with a higher price and faster sale.
- Higher Motivation.
Whether you’re a home buyer or home seller, it’s simply takes more effort to be either during Winter in Oregon. This means the party on the other side of the negotiating table may very well be even more motivated than you are…a good situation to be in when you’re involved in a real estate transaction.
- The Hunt for Red December: Getting a ‘Jump’ on the New Year’s Competition.
The best time to get your property on the market could be when everyone else isn’t. Placing your home for sale in Winter gives you access to hyper-motivated buyers who have made home buying a New Year’s resolution. That way, when these eager home buyers begin their ‘hunt,’ your house will be a prime ‘target,’ visible as Rudolph’s nose. So if your home is market-ready and available to tour leading up to the New Year, expect to tap into this highly focused ‘pent up demand.’
- Homes Look Inviting During the Holidays. Who doesn’t enjoy the happy glow of Christmas lights or other holiday decorations, along with the pleasant smell of a Christmas tree, fresh-baked pumpkin pie, cinnamon buns, or a vanilla candle? Homes often look their most inviting during the holidays. Plus, given the pleasant, even emotional attachment so many have during that time of year, expect some home buyers to fully embrace the holiday theme of ‘Peace on earth, good will toward men.’ As a result, such positive feelings can spill over into the home selling process, making it smoother.
- Lawn & Landscaping is Virtually a Non-Issue. Forget to mow your lawn? No worries. Some buyers won’t care if they tour your property and it’s covered in snow, raining hard, or after sundown. Buyer landscaping expectations can be quite reasonable during Winter months in Oregon.
- When Your Home Sells, You May Buy With Less Competition. Few home sellers stop to consider that given good timing with their sale, their own future home purchase may also benefit from similar, unique seasonality. So depending on a variety of market factors where and when you buy, home sellers can sometimes take advantage of lower Winter activity levels to successfully negotiate with highly motivated sellers.
This is because some sellers place their home on the market during Winter not for convenience, or desire to maximize their selling price, but from genuine need. In other words, they are highly motivated. Such home sellers could therefore provide a good buying opportunity.
- Movers Are Easier to Schedule. Competition for moving companies can be challenging during the real estate ‘high season.’ As a result, expect less difficulty scheduling with moving companies in Winter.
- You Can Dictate Which Days & Times Are Available for Showings. As a home seller, you typically have control over tour times and dates for your home. This includes during Winter months. Given holiday-related gatherings and events, buyers are likely to understand their need to schedule a tour of your home. Your Realtor can help by specifying days and times your home is available for showings. For example, you could have your house available for tours on Saturdays from 2 to 5pm, weekday mornings after 9:00am, or between 5 and 8pm weekday evenings.
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