Making the most of the Christmas holiday downtime: advice for sellers, buyers and estate agents

The Australian real estate market always slows down - some might suggest even shuts down - over the Christmas/New Year holiday break, especially after an exhausting year like 2013. 

But buyers, sellers and estate agents should always be ready for the next opportunity.

Mobile phone and iPad devices ensure we are all never far from the latest showcased property listing.

Sure we all want to take the formal Christmas Eve office closure and then the New Year's Eve fireworks, but there just might be times in-between and around these family events that get the 2014 sales activity well underway.

Successfully securing a transaction might be tricky with solicitors not keen to interfer with family holiday plans, but like most agents having executive assistants, there are staff who can do the legwork.

Even if it's not happening, the holiday slowdown can be used by estate agents for getting the mind and devices organised for the new year. Maybe sketching out or revising business goals and plans.

Our property commentators Jonathan Chancellor and Margie Blok give their pointers to ensuring a great start to the year because it won't be long before in the April Easter-Anzac Day break. Their tips, which are both contemporaneous and old-fashioned, could give you the opportunity or competitive edge in the unfolding 2014 marketplace.

HE SAID:

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Buyers:

*Follow up on properties that failed to sell at auction during November and December – vendors, whose properties have been languishing on the market for weeks, could be willing to listen to reasonable offers and also be more flexible in negotiating the terms of an offer. Also use this time to research sale prices of recent spring listings – the spring market has been quite frenetic, so take the time to guage where values are at now so you can be realistic about pricing the offers you make.

* Auction clearance rates normally trend downwards through December, so keep an eye out for those passed in prospects and put in a tough offer as you never know what sort of pressure the vendor will be under.

Sellers:

*Choose an experienced local agent, with a hyper executive assistant, who isn’t holidaying in Europe. Hopefully, the agent already knows the likely buyer from their long list of unsuccessful bidders at their spring recent auctions.

Use the Christmas/New Year period to tidy up your property and get it ready for a marketing campaign starting in late January. Spruce up the inside of your home as well as outside for it’s a lovely time of year to be in the garden.

* If your property failed to sell at auction in the run up to Christmas, instruct your agent to promote extended settlement terms on internet advertising, so buyers will have time to sell their property during January and February.

Agents:

*Keep networking, but in a relaxed fashion - schedule lunches, drinks or coffee with friends, past clients and vendors. Pursue strong and constant communication with both buyers and sellers as to what's been happening with their specific listing of interest.

*The challenge is to quickly and increasingly understand what’s happening in the new 2014 market – and to believe it. You have to be in an informed position to advise your seller and buyers the facts about price and where the market is going. Remember no year is exactly the same as the prior one. 

mb-silhouette-4SHE SAID:

Buyers:

*Hot summer weather, and hoardes of holidaymakers, usually means a decrease in the number of people attending Saturday inspections – this could work to your advantage because competition for properties in popular price brackets may not be so strong. Be ready for the next opportunity by creating daily or weekly alerts for new listings on real estate websites

* Trawl the internet for listings where vendors have ignored their agent’s advice about making a property look good for sale. Search for properties which appear unattractive in photographs. Rooms with bad lighting and cluttered with knick-knacks can affect sale price, but these may not affect long-term value. Make realistic offers for properties which are demonstrably overpriced.

Sellers:

* Remember the old saying “the early bird catches the worm” – rather than wait until the February auction season, tell your agent to advertise your property as a forthcoming auction on the internet because buyers.

*If your property didn’t sell before Christmas, be sure to keep it looking in tip-top inspection order for eager buyers and expats (who are home for holidays during January) could be house-hunting.

Agents:

*Get back into the office swing during early January and use the time to stay in touch with your clients by calling to wish them a Happy New Year. Even if you make just 10 calls each day from Mondays to Fridays, this will add up to a large number of people over four weeks. Ring long time clients and those collected duing spring, so you let them all know of your continued interest in their purchasing and or sales.

* Update your databases and declutter your computer files, as well as other unnecessary paraphernalia lying around the office. Use this time to organize yourself in readiness for the year ahead. Evaluate your office systems and if these are not supremely efficient, then update software and set up new systems. Ensure that the website is kept up to date, and there's nothing more frustrating for readers if the sales or rental listings are actually no longer current.

news@propertyobserver.com.au

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