- - Thursday, December 1, 2011

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.

- Garrison Keillor

Many would agree with this quotation because the hustle and bustle of December and January represent the busiest time of the year - professionally and personally - for most people as they rush to complete year-end projects and shop and travel and entertain for the December holidays and New Year’s.

But that’s not the case for those involved in real estate.

“Between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the slowest time of the year - there are very few home sales,” said Jack Shafran, a principal with Yeonas & Shafran Real Estate in McLean. “There are the fewest number of buyers on the market, and the inventory is the lowest.”

Glen Harris, owner of Harris Custom Homes in McLean, agreed.

“The bad weather and the holidays themselves make everything slow,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t show a house the weekend before Christmas or the even the week after Christmas. “Everyone is shopping. I wouldn’t show a house until January 15th.”

No one wants to move in January and February, Mr. Shafran said.

“The weather is at its worst,” he said, explaining that this interferes with the logistics of moving boxes and furniture from one residence to another and also comes in the middle of the school year for those with children.

But if homeowners must put their homes on the market in the winter, their biggest consideration should be price, Mr. Shafran said.

“You must be very competitive with pricing,” he said. “It’s less of a matter of saying you need to discount 5, 10 or 20 percent, and more about looking at the number of sales in your area within the last month and what they sold for and coming up with a price based on those factors.”

Another consideration when putting a home on the market during this time of year is whether to decorate for the holidays. Mr. Harris said he would never decorate his model homes for a particular holiday.

Christmas comes and goes so quickly from a builder’s perspective that there’s no real benefit to showcase that,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think it would be a problem if homeowners decorated for whatever holidays they celebrate.

“In the McLean area, there are a lot of interfaith marriages - people are pretty relaxed about everyone’s religion,” he said.

Mr. Shafran said he encourages his clients to decorate.

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