With only 15 days until Christmas, today is a good day to talk about how the holidays impact real estate.

I know this is a fascinating topic, because every year my family can barely contain their excitement when I start discussing this as we open presents on Christmas Day.  The cries of joy, the hugs and kisses, the excited faces of children – this truly is a magical topic.

There is no question that the holidays definitely impact real estate.  Let’s take a look at two examples of this.

  1. Number of Listings

The below chart shows the new listings on a monthly basis, with three previous years as a comparison.  This is the latest data we have (as of November, 2015) and you can see that December is by far the slowest month for new listings.

Click on the chart to open up a full size PDF version.


  1. Number of Sales

The second way that the holidays impact real estate is a drop in the number of properties that get sold.  Part of this is a natural result of the lower number of new listings coming onto the market, both in December itself, as well as the lower numbers from November and even October.

Apart from lower listings on the market, there is also the very busy nature of the holiday period.  As people make plans to see family, shop for presents, plan for absences or vacations from work, the number of prospective buyers (and their agents!) who are interested in going to see homes for sale drops considerably.

The below chart shows the number of sold properties on a monthly basis, with three previous years as a comparison.  Again we see that December is lowest time of the year in terms of the number of sales.  Unlike the number of listings though, it isn’t much worse than its nearest competitor, which is January.

Click on the chart to open up a full size PDF version.


What does it mean?

I know we all love charts, but let’s put this in plain language.

The holidays mean that December sees the fewest homes go up for sale, almost half of the next slowest month.  It is also one of the slowest months for sales.

Before you give up and hibernate until the spring, I’ll point out that whether you are buying or selling in December you can still do very well.  Like many situations, how you react determines whether it is turns out good or bad.

My advice?  Don’t panic.

For Sellers

  • A real positive when you are selling a home in December is your property has very little out there in the way of competition.
  • You will you get more attention, because the number of homes buyers want to see instead of yours is far less.
  • When faced with fewer options, studies have shown that consumers are more effective decision makers. In essence, with fewer other homes, potential buyers can focus and it makes the choice easier.
  • Some buyers who want or have to buy soon will compromise on the wish list and choose from among the best available options.

If you hold firm on your price and understand that the fewer number of buyers means it may take longer to sell in December than other times of the year (like the spring or fall), it will work out.

For Buyers

  • As the month of December moves on, some Sellers will become increasingly nervous that their home will not sell before the holidays.
  • As they begin to worry about their listing becoming stale-dated on the market, some Sellers become more open to the idea of a lower price or other aspects that may be attractive to you as a Buyer.
  • The lower number of listings (and competing buyers) means that December can be a more relaxed time to buy a home. It’s like shopping the day after a big sale – there may be fewer items on the shelf but the crowds are gone and you might still find what you want and it might even be on sale!

If you have some flexibility in the list of attributes in the home you are searching for, you have the opportunity to use the holidays and the quiet winter period to find a Seller who is willing to take an offer they might otherwise have rejected.

Whether you are selling a home or buying a home, the holidays can be as good a time of the year as any for real estate.  Stay calm, avoid panic decisions and work with a Realtor who understands how to make the holidays happy.

If you or someone you know would like to talk about buying or selling soon, I’d love to be responsible for what comes next.