By: Janice Francis-Smith, The Journal Record
Published: December 23, 2019
OKLAHOMA CITY – If you can afford to wait, wait – but there are certain advantages that can be gained from buying or selling a home during the holidays, say two local real estate professionals who specialize in helping families relocate.
“I’ve had to work the last couple of years on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day,” said Chris Jones of Coldwell Banker in Oklahoma City. “I’ve had to go to somebody’s house on Thanksgiving to list their property. I had to tell my folks, ‘Excuse me but I’ll be back in about an hour-and-a-half.’”
A family being relocated because of a job transfer or the military might be restricted by time, trying to buy or sell before the calendar year ends. On the downside, both traffic from buyers and inventory from sellers are currently at their lowest point of the year.
But those who are actively shopping or showing homes at this time of year are not the “looky-loos” but are people seriously looking to close on a transaction, Jones said.
“If we’re getting out in the car today it is highly motivated action,” he said. “You’re finding the pickiest if not the neediest buyers and sellers. I would advise both buyers and sellers why wait that extra month unless it’s a family inconvenience. You’re not going to have as much to choose from. However, if it is that important, that is the time to find the most motivated sellers and buyers.”
Real estate agent and broker Joshua McQueen works extensively with military families who might experience relocation as often as every three to five years.
“Sometimes waiting until after the holidays is the best bet as far as home hunting just because of the way that the market tends to go for those couple months,” said McQueen. “A big thing people need to keep in mind is that they look for what they want and not get caught up in the time rush, because of wanting to be in a home by a certain time. The big thing is just making sure that they’re not making poor decisions based on their timing.”
For buyers, viewing a home when the weather is bad might help to reveal issues with the property, said Jones, noting a time when a showing during a rainstorm made evident a property’s draining issues.
Showing a home during the holidays brings its own challenges, said Jones. Even families who are focusing their energy on moving out of a home should make the effort to decorate for the holidays, making the property more inviting and attractive to potential buyers, he said.
On the other hand, sellers who are expecting to welcome extended family as houseguests during the holidays would do well not to try to show the house during that time.
“If you’re fixing to have 20 people over to the house like my aunt does this time of year, yes, you do want to shut it down for these two weeks and just open it back up after January 1st,” said Jones. “But if you don’t, it’s OK to go ahead and throw it up there. A couple of weeks this time of year is not that much harm to getting your days on the market too high. It’s really only a couple of weeks.”
Both McQueen and Jones noted that inventory is particularly low this year compared to recent years.
“It’s a little bit different this year,” McQueen said. “Normally during the holidays we have a little bit higher of an inventory just because the season slows down buying a little bit. But this year’s a little awkward because we have a restricted inventory based on the amount of sales that we’ve had this year. And with the weather being a little bit milder, we’ve noticed a lot more people out looking at homes.”
“Volume is up, but units are down,” Jones said. “That’s not just a local issue, that’s a national issue, national inventory is down. The cost for builders to build is skyrocketing, and buyers are more choosy than they ever have been before.”
Jones said it appears buyers are less likely to want to take on a fixer-upper right now, instead looking for homes that are ready to move into.
According to data compiled by the Oklahoma Association of Realtors, during 2018, real estate inventory in Oklahoma peaked in the months between April and July, with January and December showing the lowest amounts of active inventory and low numbers of new, pending or closed listings. December 2018’s active inventory of 15,881 for the month was nearly 15% below the five-year average for December. The report for 2019 is expected to be released in January 2020.