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Everything You Need To Know About Buying A Home This Holiday Season

Published on Wednesday - December 16, 2015

The holiday season means something different to everyone. Some people view it as a time to gather with friends and family, whereas others are more likely to spend their time relaxing. Either way, this time of the year comes with certain connotations and expectations. However, what about the not so obvious? What else can people expect from this time of the year?

As a real estate investor, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t mention the housing market. The end of the year offers great opportunities for anyone looking to buy or sell real estate. For the sake of this article, however, my partners over at CT Homes and I have compiled everything you need to know about buying a home this holiday season in one place.

If you are looking to buy a home soon, and were wondering whether or not now is a good time, I encourage you to read the following:

The Downside

There are undoubtedly drawbacks to purchasing a home during the winter months; the largest and most prevalent of which is the level of inventory, or lack thereof. Unlike the summer months, sellers tend to rest on their laurels around the holidays. Whether it has to do with holiday gatherings or inclement weather, for one reason or another sellers are less likely to list their properties. It can be said with quite certainty that the winter months coincide with a lack of available homes to choose from.

Those looking to purchase around this time are probably more than aware of the lack of available homes on the market. Fortunately, prospective buyers are not restricted to selecting from listed homes. “If you can’t find a home you like, you might be able to tap into homes that aren’t on the market,” says Ken Pozek, a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty in Northville, Mich.

If you are looking to buy a home this holiday season, but find the pickings slim, I recommend looking at what brokers have dubbed “old expires.” These are homes that may have been for sale several years ago, but for one reason or another weren’t sold. They may be your best opportunity to find a motivated seller.

Outside of old expires, don’t hesitate to ask your broker to do a little work on your behalf. There is no reason they shouldn’t be able to send letters out to homes that meet your criteria. You really won’t know unless you ask. At the very least, the letters can’t hurt your prospects of finding a home.

When all is said and done, I can say one thing with confidence: Even though there are fewer homes to choose from during the holiday season, people that know where to look will find houses that meet their criteria, and most likely at a lower price than the hot summer months.

The Upside

As I suggested in the previous section, the winter and holiday months may not have the most homes to choose from, but the ones you find may come at a discount. Buyers are more inclined to forego winter shopping, therefore lessening the amount of competition in a given market. To that end, less competition from subsequent buyers may give you a leg up in the negotiations department, and in turn provide you with a better price on the home you intend to purchase.

Sellers, for that matter, are more likely to price their homes to sell. They do not want to run the risk of asking for too high of a price in a market that is void of buyers. In pricing to sell, they can at least generate interest. Having sad that, the chances you find a good deal on a home increase over the holiday season. The real trick lies in finding a home that meets all of your needs.

The Holiday Caveat

I highly encourage people to take advantage of the holiday home buying season. However, the endeavor is not without it’s own caveats. While great deals may be found, it is that which you can’t see that should worry you. To that end, homes in areas where snow is more prevalent have become synonymous with hidden defects. Enough snow can certainly distort your perception of a property, and can easily hide any inconsistencies that aren’t up to your standards. Foundation issues and roofing problems, both very important things for buyers to know, could go unnoticed after a heavy snowfall. Make sure you mind your own due diligence, and continue forward with calculated moves. If you are ever unsure about a property and an owner is not willing to let you conduct some research of your own, it may be time to move on to another home.

Who’s Working?

Whether you are a seasoned investor or a first-time homebuyer, there is no reason you shouldn’t enlist the services of a professional Realtor. I am of the belief that a knowledgeable real estate agent is worth their weight in gold, and I encourage everyone to work with a trusted agent on every purchase. However, that is easier said than done around this time of the year. The holidays are perhaps the one time of the year when it is acceptable for people to take time off. Real estate agents and brokerages are no exception; they have families too. Find a real estate agent that will work around your schedule, and be sure you are comfortable with their experience and track record.

It is reasonable to suspect that a lot of agents in your area will be unreachable at this time. That said, there will also be those perfectly content working on and around the holidays. If you already have an agent in mind, don’t hesitate to ask what their schedule looks like, and be sure to confirm when they are willing to work. The last thing you want is to lose the house of your dreams because you couldn’t get a hold of your agent.

The entire buying process involves a lot more people than real estate agents for either side. You need to make sure you have all of the pieces in place if you intend to buy in the coming months. All it takes is for one person to be missing to delay the whole deal. So before you even start looking for a home, make sure you have everyone in place, and – perhaps even more importantly – that they are willing to answer your calls this holiday season.

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