Q: I’m in the market for a new home and wondering if I should push off my house-hunting until after the holidays. Is it a good idea to buy a new home during Christmas?
A: While spring and summer tend to see the highest volume of home sales, it doesn’t mean they’re the only time to buy a house.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the myths and lesser-known facts about timing the purchase of a home and explore the pros and cons of buying during the holidays.
The myth about buying in the spring
Contrary to popular belief, springtime can be the worst season to purchase a home. While the longer daylight hours do make it easier to check out the exterior, shopping for a new house during the hottest real estate season can mean facing all kinds of drawbacks and difficulties.
First, and most importantly, sellers tend to mark up their prices when they see heightened demand for their homes. Also, the flooded market can lead to expensive bidding wars with buyers who are also interested in the same property. Plus, if your search is successful and you find a new home during the spring, the closing process can drag out much longer than necessary as title companies, inspectors, and movers may not be able to serve you in a timely manner during their busiest season of the year.
Why Christmas can be a better time to buy
Shopping for a home during the winter, and especially during the holidays, offers the following advantages:
1. Homes are priced to sell
Most of the houses you’ll find on the market during the late fall and early winter will be holdovers from the spring and summer seasons. At this point, homeowners may be desperate to sell and get their property off their hands.
Alternatively, the houses may have just been put on the market because of the owner’s sudden and urgent need to relocate due to unforeseen factors like a job change, divorce, or another life-altering event. In either case, the owner is looking to sell quickly, and will likely be more willing to compromise on their original asking price than homeowners selling in the spring and summer. In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, home prices can drop to a 12-month low in December.
2. Holiday spirit makes people more agreeable
People tend to be in a more generous frame of mind around the holidays. Let this factor work in your favor by shopping for a home during the holiday season. You can walk away with a dream home at a dream price, and you may even be able to negotiate some extras, like furniture or a fresh coat of paint, into the selling price.
3. Fewer buyers on the market
With more people looking to relocate during the spring and summer months, you’ll have less competition when house hunting around Christmas time. This will give you an edge in bidding wars and it will make it easier for you to negotiate to bring down the asking price of a home.
4. Professionals in the field are more available
December is usually the slowest month of the year for home sales. This can work to your advantage if you choose to buy a home around the holidays. Your real estate agent will likely have plenty of time to show you around since fewer other people are looking to buy during this season. The various professionals you’ll need to hire during the home-buying process – including an attorney, home inspector, underwriter, and mover – will likely be able to serve you promptly as well.
Before you go house hunting
While buying a house during the holidays can be a great idea, keep these factors in mind before you give your real estate agent a call:
- Daylight hours are shorter during the winter, giving you a smaller window of opportunity to search.
- You won’t be able to see a home’s property in its full glory during the winter months.
- Some sellers may not be too keen on throwing their homes open to viewers during the holidays.
- Unexpected inclement weather may delay some parts of the home-buying process, like the inspection or even the closing.
- You’ll have fewer homes to choose from, as a cooler real estate market means slimmer pickings.
Shopping for a new home during the holidays may not be conventional. However, it can mean finding your home sweet home quickly, easily, and for a far better price.
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Your Turn: Have you bought a home during the holidays? Tell us about it in the comments.