Home buying for the holidays

Some homeowners are not sure that the end of the year is the time to list their home. They think the holidays and social activities will become more of a priority.

But there are good reasons to consider listing a home for sale during the fourth quarter of the year. Those looking for homes at this time are serious and there are several reasons they are. They may be relocating to the area and need to start work or have children in school by January. They may wish to own a home by year-end for tax purposes. They may even be expecting year-end bonuses at work.

Buyers can purchase a home late in the year and be able to deduct home purchase costs on their taxes (i.e., points, interest and property taxes). Some sellers, having sold their homes earlier in the year, may be facing a capital gains tax. They are highly motivated to purchase another home by year-end or within 180 days to avoid paying capital gains tax.

Some buyers have held out during the summer months or did not wish to compete with other buyers. These buyers have more of a sense of urgency at this time of year.

According to recent studies and Forbes, homes listed in November and December are more likely to sell, sell faster and are more likely to sell near or at list price. There is also a lesser amount of competing properties on the market, as many homeowners are waiting for the spring market.

Homeowners choosing to list their homes this time of year may wish to consider the following:

Pricing the home to sell or at market value given recently sold homes of similar characteristics.

Considering offering selling incentives or buying incentives that may expire after Dec. 31, 2014.

Decorating the home with tasteful decorations to enable buyers to see themselves in a home where they can celebrate the holidays and other occasions. It is best to appeal to a wide audience of buyers and not make it too religious or personal. It is also important not to overdo seasonal decorations.

Ensuring the home is warm and inviting on these cold winter days so buyers will have reason to linger.

Keeping walkways, driveways and gutters clear and free of leaves, branches and such for the safety of buyers and to signify care. Regardless of snowcover, the property needs to looks well-maintained. If it doesn’t appear well-kept and there is ice present, buyers might pass on seeing the home.

Unless a listing agent is present, refrain from lighting and leaving fireplaces or candles for showings for safety reasons. Should a home be vacant, leave the heat on in the home to minimize the chance of bursting water pipes. Also, it is wise to have someone check on a vacant home to ensure it is maintained to minimize costly repairs and that it is presentable for showings.

Showing a home now and into the beginning of next year can be challenging because of wintry weather conditions, but if a home appears maintained, warm and inviting, it attracts buyers seeking a cozy home.

Mary Ann Clark is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker at 189-191 Mason Street in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be emailed to [email protected]

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