How buyers, sellers and agents act differently at this time of year – Cate Bakos

We know that this time of year is a great time to either be buying or selling real estate. But how do agents change the way they work and how do sellers and buyers act differently at this time of year? Cate Bakos knows what to look out for and she reveals some of those secrets.
Kevin:  We do know is that this is one of the busiest times of year, so how does that all change? What happens around December, as we’re getting close to that month now, with agents, with sellers, and with buyers? Let’s find out. Cate Bakos is a buyer’s agent.
I guess you need to understand how this dynamic changes all the time, Cate. How are you?
Cate:  I’m well. Thanks, Kevin. I love this topic, so I’m really excited to chat to you about it.
Kevin:  Good. I’m looking forward to it as well. It’s a busy time as we go into the end of the year. It’s going to be a shorter December this year. How will that impact the market, do you think?
Cate:  We’re quite used to having a full slate of weekends available for our auction campaigns, and typically an auction campaign goes over two full weekends. We have a shorter December this year because the 23rd, which is a Saturday, is too close to Christmas day for any contracts to be executed.
So, we have a shorter December, which means that we’re putting together as many campaigns as we usually would but we have to squish them up a little bit. And that’s not just in Melbourne; it’s in any auction capital, so that does have an effect on how many auctions we can anticipate seeing each Saturday, particularly as we get closer to Christmas.
Kevin:  I know you can see both sides. You step back a little bit. You work with agents, you certainly work with buyers as well. How does the agent behavior change at this time of year?
Cate:  The agents are not only carrying potentially larger volumes of stocks and hosting more campaigns and dealing with more buyers and vendors; they’re also getting pressure from any vendors that are particularly nervous about having a sale sorted before Christmas.
There will be vendors who are comfortable with the auction campaign process, and then there will be vendors who would much prefer to just have the property sold for a fair price and have it all wrapped up and not carrying on until close to Christmas.
So, agents behave a little differently when they’re feeling that pressure, but also when they’re carrying so much stock or they have properties that might potentially compete with each other. They might think that it’s in the vendor’s favor to try to facilitate a sale so that one campaign is not crashing with another.
Kevin:  I guess we lead up to what just becomes a calendar deadline, doesn’t it? Christmas, a lot of sellers will go into hibernation over that period, as will some buyers, I guess.
What about the buyer opportunity at this point? When does that actually reach a peak, Cate?
Cate:  We’re just starting to feel that peak growing now, and buyer opportunity includes buying well but it also includes an agent on general willingness to sell a property outside of an auction process. We might see quite a few auctions coming up, but we can’t discount the opportunity to secure the properties prior to auction if the vendor is open to it, and that means that you have to ask some clever questions to find those opportunities .
Kevin:  And of course, it works in reverse, too. It works for sellers as well, because you’d find some buyers who’ve been probably looking for quite some time and they make that decision, “I have to get something before Christmas, even if I don’t move in until after Christmas.” So, it works on both sides doesn’t it?
Cate:  It certainly does. People who are on a mission to sell or buy really only regard that Christmas deadline as a critical one. There’s probably a bit of emotion to do with it, because they’d like to think that they can focus on Christmas and holidays and their family and not worry about property.
But they also understand that in many of the capital cities, the first half of January is a total shutdown, and the property season and full cycle starts again… Really in Melbourne and Sydney it doesn’t ramp up again until [3:42 inaudible], so people are considering that if they want to buy in 2017, it’s getting really critical.
Kevin:  I’ve seen, too, a number of agents go into an early Christmas almost at the start of Christmas, but I’ve actually seen properties sell on Christmas Eve. The smart agents don’t really stop, do they?
Cate:  Not at all. I’ve had seven Christmases in a row dealing with contracts and having to find an out-of-hours solicitor or conveyancer to help execute a purchase. So, it is a very real fact that deals are done all the way up to Christmas Eve and into the evening.
Kevin:  Of course, one of the difficulties would be that if the solicitors go on early leave, then finding someone to process that contract can be difficult, Cate.
Cate:  Yes, that’s right. A lot of solicitors will start their black-out dates, and buyers and sellers need to be completely aware of this, but a lot of firms will run on skeleton staff or they’ll be prepared to look at things out of hours. It just puts a lot of pressure on executing contracts and also dealing settlements, and people should really understand those critical dates and also talk to their lender.
Kevin:  Cate, just to close off, what are your tips for both buyers and sellers as we approach Christmas?
Cate:  I think for sellers, if they can avoid feeling panicked and avoid freaking if they don’t have their sale finalized before Christmas Day, they can look forward to having an opportunity in January with a quieter market but obviously fewer competing property out there as well. All is not lost to if your sale campaigns goes through into January.
And for buyers, I think asking all of the right questions when they do find a property that they’re interested in and establishing whether the agent and the vendor are open to offers prior.
Just because we have a lot of stock coming on doesn’t mean that everyone is happy to sell prior, and if it is going to auction, you really should keep your powder dry and work out your auction tactics.
Kevin:  Great advice. Cate Bakos is the buyer’s agent and joins us regularly on the show. Cate, thank you so much for your time.
Cate:  Thank you for having me, Kevin.

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