You might soon be noticing your neighbors taking down “For Sale” signs and putting up Christmas lights instead. The holidays are typically the time when buyers and sellers take a break and regroup for the new year. But there are several reasons why staying active during a seasonal slowdown can be to your advantage.
5 big benefits of buying a home during the holidays
Spring is when most buyers come out of the woodwork, starting their house-hunt as more homes become available. But beginning your home search early, during the holidays, can give you more flexibility — and more options.
Here’s evidence supporting why buying now can be a smart move:
1. Less competition.
If you’ve been feeling defeated by this summer’s bidding wars, the holidays may be your season. While buyer activity has remained high throughout most of the year — thanks to record-low mortgage rates making homebuying extra-affordable — traffic is likely to dip come winter. With fewer buyers beating down the doors of potential listings, you’ll have more properties to choose from.
2. More time for house-hunting.
With the market as hot as it’s been, buyers have been forced to act fast. Now, you can take a load off and spend a little more time looking for the right house, complete with your must-have features. Knock out your Christmas shopping online and use the spare time in your fall and winter breaks to tour and narrow down a shortlist of your top houses.
3. Lower interest rates.
While many homebuyers are expected to press pause around the holidays and resume in the spring, strategic buyers — like yourself — know that now is an ideal time to take advantage of record-low rates before they begin rising. Buying now instead of waiting could save you nearly $1,500 per year.* Note that December’s considered the optimal month to purchase a house at a good price.
4. Potential for negotiation.
Being a seller’s market, negotiations have gone by the wayside. Couple that with low inventory, and sellers have had the upper hand. Around the holidays, this imbalance is expected to level out. Fewer active buyers means fewer feeding frenzies on available listings, and sellers may be more willing to negotiate price, contract terms, and closing date.
5. End-of-year tax breaks.
Yet another boon for buyers: End-of-year home purchases give homebuyers the chance to squeeze in an important tax write-off. Homeowners can deduct their mortgage interest on primary residences up to $750,000, along with combined deductions for up to $10,000 of local, state, and property taxes. Other homeowner-friendly deductions, like moving expenses in some states, may also apply.
To smooth and speed up the homebuying process, try these tips:
- Prequalify for a mortgage before you start house-hunting. This will save you time by telling you exactly how much house you can afford and will also help you look serious in the eyes of a seller.
- Take it a step further and get full loan approval. Talk about serious: Making an offer with a fully underwritten loan approval in your back pocket can appear as good as cash.
- Use a skilled agent. Since there are fewer properties on the market, you’ll need an agent who’s in-the-know, able to scoop up and send you listings as they become available.
- Do your homework. Prices for all real estate services may decrease around the holidays; gather quotes and compare costs before choosing your home inspector and title and escrow companies.
- Don’t forget to check a home’s cold-weather features. At showings, keep your eyes and ears open for drafts, strange sounds coming from a furnace, frozen plumbing, and other issues you may miss in the summer.
5 big benefits of selling your home during the holidays
Spring is the season when most homes go on the market, prepping for the hustle and bustle of summer. Home sellers who stay on the market in the fall and winter — or newly list their properties — can often become a hot commodity.
Here are some major advantages you can expect when selling your home during the holidays:
1. A lot less competition.
Housing inventory has been notoriously tight. And yet, because rates have remained so low, promoting unprecedented affordability, buyer activity has stayed high. What does this mean for you as a seller? Selling your home during the holidays with even less inventory significantly thins out your competition. You’ll be the big fish in a small pond, likely to get (many) more nibbles.
2. Extra-motivated buyers.
Due to low inventory, many house-hunters may move quickly — and close quickly, to your advantage. And since the housing industry is slower overall during the holidays, loan officers are likely to approve and close qualified buyers faster. If you happen to live in a warmer climate, all the better. Warm-weather markets like Phoenix and Miami are still quick-sellers in fall and winter.
3. Extra-motivated realtors.
In the seasonal slowdown, your realtor may have the time — and the creativity — to make your listing stand out even more. An agent working double-time when selling your home during the holidays might put more effort into photos and staging, or they may hand out freebies at a winter open house. Contact your loan officer for a referral if you haven’t found a realtor that you’re happy with.
4. Lower interest rates.
Mortgage rates remain historically low, but by the end of the year, they’re expected to slowly start to climb. This creates a unique window for homebuyers to save more money by acting now, instead of waiting until next year. Lower interest rates mean lower monthly mortgage payments that can entice more buyers to purchase — also benefiting you when you sell and buy your next house.
5. More time for house-hunting.
Breaks from school and work leave motivated buyers with time on their hands. They’ll not only be drawn to your home with that winter-wonderland-like curb appeal, twinkling Christmas lights and all, but they’ll have the free time to browse listings and attend holiday-themed open houses. As an added bonus, non-U.S. buyers who may not follow the same calendar could also be looking to buy.
If you want to expedite your sale, use these tips when selling your home during the holidays:
- Set the right price. A good realtor who understands your local market can help you list your home in the most profitable yet reasonable price range.
- Put extra effort into your listing. Virtual tours can also be helpful to keep homebuyers out of the cold and may attract highly-motivated and/or long-distance buyers.
- Work your curb appeal. Dress your house up with lights and a festive front door wreath, but keep your yard decor simple.
- Stay in town. Making yourself available will make it easier to communicate with interested buyers and quickly move an offer along to closing.
- Give preference to prequalified buyers. Buyers who’ve gotten preapproved and have gone through the underwriting process are even better; their loan is ready to go and akin to a cash offer.
Get in touch with a great lender & get home fast
The holiday season is upon us. Whether you’re buying or selling: Prequalifying for your mortgage now can help fast-track your house-hunt, pushing you that much closer to closing day. Connect with a friendly, local loan officer to prequalify and start your new year off right.
*“How much will it cost you if you wait to buy a house? [INFOGRAPHIC]” HouseLoanBlog.net, 2021.
For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.