As 2018 real estate market wraps up, buyers and sellers prepare for the year ahead

To list or not to list during the holidays? That is the question.

  • Tuesday, December 11, 2018 4:48pm
  • Life

By Erin Flemming

Special to the Reporter

The holiday season is typically slow for residential real estate in Kirkland, as families tend to go out of town and may not be looking to move in the chilly weather, halfway through the school year. Mona Spencer, branch manager for John L. Scott’s Redmond office, said listings are at lower levels, which is typically seen in November and December.r.

In Kirkland, the median list price is $799,000, and the median sale price is $809,000 (November statistics via Trendgraphix). While median list and sale prices are up in Kirkland from October, home sales numbers are evening out, said Spencer.

“Home sales numbers are leveling off, the rate of price appreciation has slowed to more historically normal averages,” she said. “I expect that inventory and home sales’ growth will pick up again in 2019 even with somewhat higher mortgage rates. If we are headed into a more normal market, buyers and sellers may see this as a welcome change.”

For homeowners looking to sell their home during the holidays, one decision to be made is whether or not holiday décor makes sense when staging the house. Spencer encourages sellers to consider the neighborhood their home is in. If the neighbors are festive during the holiday season, then a buyer may expect decorations at the listed property. She added that it’s best to use generic decorations to promote season’s greetings rather than decorations for a specific holiday.

Spencer notes that sometimes less is more – some simple white lights can add a festive touch to a property. Also, she said it’s always important to keep common-sense precautions in mind at open houses and showings.

“The last thing you want this holiday is for a stranger with sticky fingers to walk away with a present, taken from under your Christmas tree,” Spencer said. “As always, with valuables, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Lock the presents in a safe place if your home will be toured this holiday season.”

On the flip side, Spencer said some brokers say sellers should forego the decorations and keep the home impersonal, even if the neighbors are festive. Regardless of whether or not sellers and their chosen real estate professional decide to decorate, it’s just one piece of a larger puzzle this season.

“In the end, the most important decision this time of the year is whether to keep the home on the market during the holiday season,” said Spencer. “You will have fewer house hunters, but more motivated buyers. I recommend asking your broker whether you should consider de-listing your home for the holiday season, and starting fresh after the New Year.”

One option for those who haven’t been able to sell this winter is to take their listings off the market and wait 90 consecutive days. Once this time is up, sellers will able to re-list and give their home a fresh start. This way, the listing will show up as new, and may not be tainted by a buyers’ perception if they see it’s been on the market for a while. During this waiting period, sellers can consult their real estate professional to see if any repairs or other changes could make the home more appealing and competitive.

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