Most estate agents are starting to worry now about making the festive season more productive in terms of home sales, because listings tend to dry up between the end of November and the middle of January, mainly due to the belief often held by sellers that no-one wants to shop for a home during the holidays.
But, the experts say, that’s a myth, and neither agents nor home sellers should buy into it.
In fact, says Rudi Botha, CEO of SA’s biggest mortgage originator BetterBond, the holidays are one of the best times of the year to put a home on sale and on show. “Couples are off work and families are together, so it is a great time for buyers to look, and because of the smaller number of new listings, the chances are that the property will get a much higher rate of exposure during its first month on the market – when the likelihood of a sale is highest – than at other times of the year.”
He says other things for sellers who are cautious about listing now to consider are the following:
• Buyers are keen to take advantage of low interest rates and higher affordability of housing right now. Mortgage interest rates are currently at their lowest level in almost 40 years, which makes it easier for potential buyers to qualify now for home loans. And according to Absa statistics, the affordability of housing has improving drastically since 2008 in terms of both the house price to household disposable income ratio and the mortgage repayment to household disposable income ratio.
• At the current standard home loan interest rate of 8,5%, the monthly repayment on a 20-year, R1m home loan is R8364, and buyers can take a fixed rate option for very little more. In 2008, before the recession, that same loan would have required a monthly repayment of R13 168.
• Your buyer might be motivated to buy now. People buy homes throughout the year for a variety of reasons, but not many can shop for a home when they please. Those who have been transferred to a new job in a new town, for example, will need to find a home and move now, before the work and school year starts, so they will be highly motivated to make a decision.
• Your buyer might not be the typical "family." Many sellers still think of homebuyers in terms of the nuclear family – mom, dad, two kids and a dog – but actually non-traditional families, working couples, empty-nesters and singles now make up a very large percentage of homebuyers now, and for many of these this is the very best time of year to shop for a home.
• It won't sell off the market. Some sellers whose homes are on the market want to take them off again at this time but actually they won’t be saving time or money, they will just be delaying their own moving plans. They need to know that if they receive an offer during the holidays, they can always negotiate terms for moving at a more convenient time.
• The holiday spirit might help you sell. Many homeowners make sure their properties are looking their best for family and visitors at this time of year, and that may well help potential buyers picture their own friends and family enjoying life in a lovely new home.