Home for the Holidays
New Yorkers dance through December in a whirl of holiday activities. Hanukkah, Christmas, parties, performances – and let’s not forget shopping! – all consume us between the beginning of December and the day after New Year’s. As a result, many sellers of real estate believe that it’s a good moment to refresh their listings by removing them from the market. There is a certain intuitive sense to this. Buyers often slow or even stop their searches, especially as the middle of the month approaches. It can be an inactive time.
But this year I suggest a different approach. Taking an apartment temporarily off the market for three weeks or a month does not reset the clock for the total days on the market. The listing still comes up in most on-line searches. Most importantly of all, buyers looking in December are serious. Here are a couple of ways to tempt them:
- Make It Affordable. Most agents and owners will wait to drop prices till the first two weeks of January. A price drop today will actually generate more attention than one initiated at the same time as many others, when new listings also appear on the market in larger numbers. If you know the property is overpriced, try making the reduction now. Sometimes turning conventional wisdom on its ear works! As an agent, I remember making at least two or three deals during Christmas week. I even finalized one deal for a particularly interesting 5 room apartment facing Central Park late in the day on Christmas Eve.
- Make It Beautiful. Even if the property has been staged (but especially if it hasn’t) take advantage of the season to make the property especially appealing. Seasonal flowers and plants (excepting perhaps the ubiquitous and poisonous poinsettia) create a sense of happiness and hominess in any property.
- Make It Interesting. Since almost all successful marketing now appears online, think hard about how your property appears on your website and on aggregator websites. Does the copy entice without giving everything away? Do the photos showcase the property’s attributes while minimizing its drawbacks (HINT: photos in which the brick wall directly outside the windows dominates the perspective probably won’t help sell the property)?
- Make It Known. As agents, we try to think outside the box to sell our listings. I like to remind our agents that sitting by the phone is not a strategy. Lifting the phone and dialing, however, moves you to a whole different place. As an agent, I found that outreach to other top agents in my community was often the most effective marketing I could do. A group e-mail creates far less impact than a personal e-mail or a call.
Every property, whether in December of 2018 or in January of 2019, will benefit from these strategies. But they can be particularly effective when the market seems quiet, as in these weeks between now and the New Year. Sometimes UNconventional wisdom is the way to go.