You know that play in football where the quarterback seems to hand the ball off to a running back and the entire defense concentrates on that “runner,” only to find that the ball ended up in the hands of someone on the other side, who then sprints down the sideline and scores a touchdown? That’s pretty much what it’s like to buy a home during the holidays. While everyone is busy looking at all the pretty, shiny things and on-sale things and yummy things, you’re sneaking around the other side with the ball, or, rather, the offer, that gets you the house you want.
Yes, when it comes to homebuying around the holidays, it’s advantage: buyer. With so many distractions between Halloween and New Year’s Day, you can slide right in there and make a smart move. So why, exactly, does it benefit you to buy a home over the holidays?
Because you just want to find a home already
The market has been hot for a few years, and, in many places, multiple offers and over-asking-price sales have become the norm. Competing in those markets can be demoralizing. Tales of buyers seeking million-dollar fixers on Los Angeles’ Westside just so they can get into something in the area – and being consistently outbid for more than a year – are more and more common.
But buy over the holidays and you slice through the buyer pool. While others are trimming their tree or searching for the perfect pumpkin cheesecake recipe, you’re off snagging the home you want.
Because: First-time buyers
The above scenario, where buyers are constantly being outbid on homes, is a nightmare for first-timers looking for a home. Not only is there a verrrrrry limited supply of available homes that are affordable in the first place, but the number of folks that are vying for them is tremendous. If you’re in the market and have never done this before, you’re probably pretty frustrated.
There are time-tested tips for winning in a multiple-offer situation, like getting preapproved, limiting contingencies on the home, being flexible about the closing, and writing a “love letter” to the seller, which can appeal “to the heart can make your offer stand out,” said NerdWallet.
But acting during a time when others may be distracted and not actively searching is perhaps the most effective method of getting what you want. “About one million consumers will purchase a home from November to January this year, when home prices are a bit softer,” said Forbes.
If that sounds like a big number, consider this: “More than 85 percent of buyers who say they plan to buy a home in the next year say they will wait until the spring or summer,” according to data from Realtor.com’s “Top Tips for Home Buyers and Sellers in 2016” survey.
Because you might actually get a deal
No one likes to overpay, regardless of their price point. And multiple offers that drive up home prices are a drag for everyone (but the seller!). If you consider that those who are selling their home during the holidays are generally doing so because they have to, not because they want to, it makes sense that when you do find a house, it might be priced better than anything you’d find months later. In fact, according to The Balance, “Home prices typically drop to a 12-month low” in the month of December.
“Sellers tend to avoid the end of the year due to the short days, wintry weather and conventional wisdom that says buyers are otherwise occupied, Tim Deihl, associate broker at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston, told Bankrate. “But those who do choose to sell at year-end are often under pressure and highly motivated to cut a deal. A seller who’s looking to move a piece of real estate during the holidays is a seller who needs to sell, because nobody in their right mind would pick that as the most convenient time to list their property. And that’s why the year-end might be a smart time to buy: Determined house-hunters can take advantage of sellers’ urgency.”
Because what better present could there be?
You might want a new KitchenAid mixer or a flat screen or a weekend getaway. But do any of those things compare to a new home? The answer is no. No, they don’t. If you’re stumped at what to get your honey or your family, or what to ask for, here it is. And, if you time it right, you might even be able to get that home on Christmas Day.
“Almost nobody looks at homes on Christmas Day. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Christian nor whether you celebrate that holiday, there are much lower numbers of buyers shopping for a home in December,” said The Balance. “But buying on or near Christmas Day is a smart move.”
In addition to all the other reasons the Christmas holiday season is so attractive for buyers, “People are in good moods, celebrating, opening presents, enjoying family and, let’s face it, some are a little tipsy,” they said. And, “People are more inclined to be generous, even if it means coming down on the price. Of course, the key is to find a real estate agent who will a) work on Christmas and b) be aggressive enough to worm her way into the seller’s home without batting an eyelash.”