Real estate agents opt to work long Thanksgiving weekend

Among those working this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will be some hardy real estate agents.

The struggling economy and uncertainty about jobs have changed the home selling scene, shifting more house hunting to hours and days off. The long weekend is a time when buyers are likely to have free time — an opportunity that agents feel is too good to pass up.

"I'm showing houses at 8 a.m and 6:30 in the evening," said Shelly Palmer, an 11-year agent with Snyder Sutton Real Estate in Topanga. "People have so little time off work that they have to combine everything that they need to get done on holidays."

Historically, holidays or days of major sporting events would be too slow to expect much from an open house, she said, but not anymore. Palmer is planning one Sunday at an ocean view listing in Malibu priced at $1.85 million.

Less than half the usual number of open houses can typically be expected over the Thanksgiving weekend, said Angela Sassounian, marketing director for Prudential California Realty in Glendale for the past decade. If the weather is bad, she said, expect even fewer.

The reasons for the decreased number aren't unexpected — some buyers and sellers will be traveling, and others will be gathering with family for the entire four-day weekend, she said. Agents will be entertaining family as well or don't want to interfere with people's gatherings, she added. "It's not just a one-day holiday anymore."

The agents who will be working expect smaller crowds at holiday weekend open houses.

"We'll see about 40 to 50 clients on a given day — at most 150," said Adam Brett with Re/Max North Orange County. "On holidays, it will be 30 to 40."

But potential buyers looking during holiday weekends are often the most motivated.

"It's like shopping for a car in the rain," said Megan Spargo of Podley Properties in Pasadena, who will be showing buyers properties in the area this weekend.

Darryl Rosen of Shorewood Realtors will spend the weekend after Thanksgiving holding an open house at a home with an ocean view listed at $3.499 million in Manhattan Beach's Hill Section.

"There are people who are seriously looking for homes," Rosen said, "and those are the people who are going to be coming."

The fact that families are together at Thanksgiving makes for an ideal house-hunting scenario, said Drew Mandile of Sotheby's Beverly Hills office.

"Thanksgiving is a festive time, when mom and dad have time off and they can drive around," said Mandile, who is holding an open house Sunday at a Spanish-style home in Bel-Air priced at $3.525 million. "I mean, how much can you eat before you want to take a drive?"

For sellers still occupying their homes, preparing an open house while juggling the demands of a holiday weekend would seem to be an added hassle.

Homeowner Diana Fernandez of Costa Mesa isn't concerned.

"I'm already up for it. I took care of all the little details when the house was listed," said Fernandez, whose about 1,750-square-foot custom home priced at $585,000 will be open to the public Sunday afternoon.

She is already prepared for showings on little notice. "When somebody comes to see it, I don't have to do much."

It has become somewhat of a family joke that if Todd Hays of Podley Properties tries to go to Michigan to visit his parents at Thanksgiving he'll end up selling a house.

"I'm postponing my trip this year as I just have too many irons in the fire," said Hays, who is working with several buyers. "New homes may come on the market."

Clients of his looking for fixers in the Palm Springs area recently had to compete with six offers that came in within eight hours of a property coming on the market. He hopes other buyers taking the holiday off will decrease the competition.

Open houses are central to John S. Caliendo's Redondo Beach-based real estate practice, and holidays are no exception.

"This year alone I held open houses on Father's Day, Mother's Day, Easter and Labor Day," said the 17-year veteran who works with Re/Max Execs.

He plans Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon open houses at a $1.499 million four-bedroom home in Manhattan Beach's Tree Section.

"Three-day weekends are my favorites," he said.

Some agents find Thanksgiving weekend to be the last big push for buyers who want to close by the end of the year for tax purposes. The urgency is gone by Christmas week.

"That would be what I call the dead zone," said Brian Melville of Re/Max of Santa Clarita. "At Halloween it starts to slow, and by Thanksgiving it's slower. Then, everyone starts to check out."

Not all agents agree.

The time between Christmas and New Year's is one of Valerie Torelli's most active times of year.

"Some of our busiest weeks are when people take downtime," said Torelli, who owns Torelli Realty in Costa Mesa. After polishing off leftovers Friday, she'll spend the weekend hosting an open house in Costa Mesa, where she has a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house listed at $699,000.

Cleone Skaug of Re/Max All Pro in Lancaster also keeps busy during the last part of the year. She'll be having an open house Sunday at a 3,000-square-foot manufactured home in the Lancaster area listed at $160,000 as a short sale.

So what is the worst time to try to sell a house?

"Mother's Day is the slowest holiday to do an open house," said Caliendo, the Redondo Beach agent. "It's mom's day and it's her way. If I was going to stop doing one holiday, I'd stop that."

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