The end of the year is upon us, and many people are busy shopping for gifts, attending parties and living out annual holiday traditions — but all you want to do is buy a new house. While the holiday season isn’t a peak time to purchase real estate, that doesn’t mean doing so is a bad idea.
Or, perhaps, you need to sell your home. Listing now might seem like a hassle, but it could pay off.
Jason Gelios, a realtor in Southeast Michigan, said buyers and sellers can both benefit from the unique opportunities offered this time of year. For sellers, he said one main advantage is their home will be seen by the most serious buyers.
“Typically, people who are looking to purchase a home during the holiday season have a strong reason to move,” said Gelios, who is also the author of the book “Think Like a REALTOR.” “You get less window shoppers and more serious buyers who need to make a move fast.”
If you’re looking to buy a home this holiday season, he said you need to go into the process informed.
“Home buyers should still apply the same general rules of getting their offer accepted, which include knowing what the market is doing, knowing if they are up against other offers and how motivated the seller is,” he said. “If a home buyer is shopping in a sellers’ market, they will need to have an aggressive and favorable offer — even during the holiday season.”
While you need to take the buying process as seriously as ever, Gelios said one fun perk of shopping for a new home during this time of year is the holiday décor.
“One of the best and most fun times to purchase a home is during the holiday season, because savvy sellers will have their homes decorated to impress,” he said.
If you end up buying a home decked with boughs of holly, you can use the current owners’ decorations as inspiration for your own next year.
Another major benefit you might enjoy is the ability to score your dream house at a discount.
Denise Supplee, a licensed real estate agent and property manager with Long and Foster, based in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, said the holiday season can be advantageous for homebuyers.
“Typically, a home that is listed during the holidays is one where the sellers are more desperate,” said Supplee, who is also the co-founder of SparkRental.com. “And even if they are not, generally, the volume of buyer clients drops.”
While it’s been hard to score a deal this year in many areas, she said the holiday season might be the exception.
“Even a hot market like the one we have seen this past year may offer better deals and be a bit more buyer-sided,” she said. “This means there may be more room for negotiation, fewer bidding wars and the ability to add more contingencies, such as home inspections.”
In fact, Supplee said the holiday season buyers’ market might already be starting.
“I have already seen homes now sitting on the market for about 15 days plus, where only a month ago, they were flying off the market so fast, often being bid on by several buyers,” she said.
While many homes on the market during the holidays will still be occupied, Mayer Dallal, managing director with mortgage lender MBANC, said many are not.
“If someone is selling during the holidays, it usually indicates they’ve already left their former home behind, and they’re spending the holidays elsewhere, so they have emotionally disassociated themselves from the home,” he said.
When this happens, he said it could work to your advantage.
“That means they may be more open to negotiation, because they have moved on,” he said. “They may also be more motivated to sell during that time, since many prospective buyers will be putting their buying plans aside, traveling or putting off major business transactions until the new year.”
Additionally, Mayer said you might also be able to save money on taxes.
“You may get a tax break, because the interest you would pay is all tax deductible,” he said. “You’ll get every tax advantage for that tax year, if you close the deal by December 31st.”
Chase Michels, a licensed real estate broker with The Michels Group, a Compass real estate team based in Downers Grove, Illinois, said yet another advantage of buying a home this time of year is your agent will have more time to focus on you.
“Your agent is not as busy during winter months, [so] you can trust that you’re getting the most out of them,” he said.
Plus, if you’re like many people, he said you’ll probably have an easier time getting out of the office to see homes since things at work often slow down at the end of the year. Beyond that, he said another added bonus is simply having the ability to check a home out during the colder months of the year.
“You get to see firsthand how a home handles the elements,” he said. “Is the home properly insulated? Does the heat work as expected?”
If you were previously on the fence about starting — or continuing — your house-hunting mission during the holidays, you can feel very confident moving forward. Hopefully, your diligence will allow you to score the keys to your dream home.
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