Christmas is a Great Time to Buy a Home!

Selling or buying a home in winter poses unique challenges — and real estate opportunities.

Seasonal swings in home prices and number of homes on the market happen in many cold climates, including Northern Nevada. Trees lose leaves, lawns turn brown. Hopefully, there’s snow on the ground. Sellers fret that buyers can’t see and appreciate the lovely landscaping they worked so hard on. Buyers must use their imaginations or rely on photos to understand the summer beauty of a home on the market in mid-winter.

Yet people buy and sell homes all year long. Families grow, promotions or new jobs require people to move, and many other life-changing events  prompt people to list a property for sale in winter.

Whether buying or selling a home, use these tips to get the most out of this real estate season!

Are you a  Buyer? 

Fact: There are fewer homes on the market from December – Marc2525 Rio Alayne Ct Sparks NV-print-006-1-11-2500x1668-300dpih, so buyers have fewer homes to tour and from which to select. BUT those homes that are available are there for a reason — their sellers are motivated! In many cases, price points may be less than homes that get listed in spring.

Fact: In many markets, prices frequently jump in the Spring and early summer, then level out or even retreat for the rest of the year. In winter, some sellers are more willing to negotiate, if not on price, on other points. Buyers who wait until spring to start looking, may miss the boat. If prices jump again, but a buyer’s budget doesn’t, then they may have to buy less house.

Fewer buyers = better chance at getting a great property at a better price.

Timing: The weeks before and after Christmas are great times to make an offer on a house!

The reason: Many agents and many buyers take the holidays off. Less competition may mean a better deal for those in the hunt for a great home.

Are You a Seller?

Homes for sale in mid-winter fchristmas-front-doorace the challenge of fewer buyers. Make the most of what your home has to offer with these tips:

• Turn the lights on! Outside  may be blustery, cold and dreary, so make the house you’re trying to sell warm and inviting.

Home buying is emotional.  Create a comfortable environment for buyers. Add lights to dark corners, Consider installing recessed lights in dark hallways. Add lamps on a timer. Both are fairly inexpensive, yet very effective tactics to make your home sparkle on a dark day.

• Keep the heat on! No one likes a cold house. Many modern thermostats have timers for night and day. Use one, especially in a vacant house. Set the daytime temperature at about 68 degrees.  If a home is barely warmer inside than it is out, clients just won’t stay very long. Don’t lose a sale over a few dollars for heat.ornament 2013

• Consider professional staging. Smart designers can re-purpose or re-arrange your furniture to give it a better flow for touring. Decorate — but not too much. Pack up your personal items — photos, toys, games, “stuff” you are moving anyway. Look at model homes — which maximize a room’s features by strategically placing a minimum amount of furniture. Just enough to give an idea.

Odd fact: empty rooms look smaller than furnished rooms. Again, play into the emotion of buying a home. You want a buyer to pick your property over all other options. Focus on staging the master bedroom and the rooms you spent the most time using and enjoying. Kitchens: Only one item on the counters, and perhaps a small breakfast table staged with coffee cups hint at cozy conversations.

• Show the summer scene with photos!  An album, 8×10 display stands clearly show buyers how much shade the now-barren trees provide your yard. Colorful fruit trees? Glorious roses? Share photos of how lovely your garden will be in just a few months.

dollar sign artReno Market Insights: Inventory is still low. Is buying new construction the answer? Maybe not. Developers used to price homes below existing homes in Northern Nevada. Not no much today — especially when factoring in lot premiums, nearly mandatory “upgrades” plus the hidden costs of window coverings, landscaping and customized paint. Buyers who think they really want brand new, may  find their dollars go farther in “used” home — especially before the traditional spring price hike hits.

So from today through January ‘Tis the Season to, perhaps find a great deal! 

For more information, call/text 775-762-7576 or send an email to

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. 


Never Pass Up a Hug



‘Tis the time of year to sort things out. To take stock and evaluate.  That could mean something deep and philosophical. Or not.

Today, it is about Christmas gifts. The tangible and the intangible.

Tangible: For me, it means finding all the gifts I’ve bought and stashed around the house (and the garage) over the year.  Under the bed, in the closet, in the present drawer in the garage … in bags, boxes and just sitting there.  Some are obviously for one person or another. Others surface and I can’t remember why the heck I bought them.  This leads to evaluating and balancing it out so my family is covered.

And to remembering what is really important.

Intangible: There’s an element of letting go — and deciding to hold on tight. Who and what really matters.

Yesterday, I learned that woman I greatly admired died of cancer. I hadn’t seen her in close to a year, and had thought she was off on a new adventure.  She was, but sadly, not the one I imagined.

My sad lesson (again): Don’t wait to connect. Count your blessings, fortunes or good luck, whatever belief system that works for you. Don’t imagine/count on everything being “fine.”

Give those you care about that hug. It says so much without saying a word. Letting people know you care matters.

Have a story to share?  I’d love to hear it … 



Hometown vs. City Mardi Gras Parades — You Choose!

I attended my first two Mardi Gras parades over the weekend – and what a contrast!

Friday, the tiny town of Fairhope, Alabama hosted its Maids of Jubilee night celebration with members of all female “secret societies” populating the floats and throwing beads – think Junior League

Night parade draws families to Fairhope, Alabama

Night parade draws families to Fairhope, Alabama

social groups that up and coming/socially connected women join. A similar parade featured on Feb. 23 focused on “men’s” secret societies/fraternities. Boy Scouts carried flags at the head of the parade, high-school marching bands from Fairhope and nearby Daphne marched, as did an adult jazz group from nearby Mobile.

Float riders wore sparkly outfits and masks – and attended a private ball after the event. Spectators included families and tourists – plus formally dressed men and women associated with the “societies” but not on the floats. Visualize men in tuxedos, women in gowns, furs and high heels.

To be sure, people roamed the streets with red Solo cups, filled with their libation of choice.  Yet it was a very suburban, middle-class, family event.

Saturday afternoon, nearby Pensacola, Floridas Mardi Gras parade couldn’t have been more different — Longer, louder, raucous, more commercial and aimed at a totally different audience.Pensacola float

Non-masked, bead-tossing  “krewes” tossed beats from dozens of floats sponsored by businesses, casinos, radio stations, civic organizations and social groups snaked through the downtown where thousands cheered. The diverse crowd lined the route three or four deep – lots of singles, college students, as well as families with infants – though I didn’t see many children.  Bars sold beer, wine and hard drinks from sidewalk stands – all helping the crowd to whoop it up and release inhibitions. 

Pensacola is home to the Blue Angels, the Navy’s elite flight team. Pensacola Naval Air Station is the primary training base for all NavyMarine andCoast Guard aviators and Naval Flight Officers — plus hosts a slew of other specialty training units. 

At the parade, the very young, enlisted Marine Corps personnel from the nearby Pensacola Naval Air Station stood out.  Freshly shaven, wearing their uniforms, likely fresh from boot camp … they watched and enjoyed being off base – but could not partake in wearing beads or drinking. They looked happy to watch.

The parade was fun, but more indicative of the city-style celebrations in Mobile and New Orleans … where drinking and flash body parts (men and women) are part of the atmosphere.

Fun Facts:

  • Mardi Gras did not start in New Orleans, or even in Louisiana.  Alabama claims the first event was held in Mobile in 1866.
  • Parades and events start in early February – The Mobile area boasts about 50. Almost all parades in Alabama are followed by a fancy-dress ball.
  • Generally people and/or groups riding the floats must buy their own beads and trinkets to toss at spectators.
  • Beyond beads:  Other prizes tossed in these parades stuffed animals, plastic memento cups, glow sticks and doubloons.
  • Beads Hurt!  Keeping both hands raised wards off painful hits from the hard plastic chains.

How many Madi Gras parades have you attended? Share a story (good or bad)!