The holiday months and winter may not be traditional peak homebuying seasons - there are historically less homes on the market - but there are actually advantages to being a buyer during the holiday season. With less competition, tax benefits, and motivated sellers, the holidays are actually a great time to buy a home. According to a report from ATTOM Data Solutions, December 26 is the #1 day of the year to purchase a home. Think of it like the Black Friday of real estate.
Here are some benefits and tips on buying a home during the holiday season.
1. Have a clear focus
In order to take advantage of savings during this time, you need to be organized and have a clear idea of what you want in a home so you can act quickly if needed. Make sure you have all of your financial documentation ready, have saved up a down payment, and have your “wants/needs” list on hand.
2. Look for motivated sellers
Many sellers who list their home during the holidays are motivated to sell for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, you can benefit by negotiating a great price on the house. Consider other incentives to ask for, like an adjusted closing date that works for you.
Available homes might have been on the market for some time, or you could even come across an “old expired listing” that didn’t previously sell during the original listing period and is active again. Private sellers are not the only motivated sellers during this season. Banks and other financial institutions are motivated to get foreclosed properties off of their books before the end of the year. Ask your real estate agent about these types of properties.
3. Tax benefits
Depending on your financial situation, and what your tax liability looks like for the upcoming calendar year, you could qualify for some tax benefits purchasing a home this time of year.
If you itemize deductions when you file taxes, you may be able to deduct points purchased upon closing, property taxes, and mortgage interest rates. If you’re purchasing a home as an investment asset, and have a business entity, there may be even more tax benefits available to you. Make sure you talk to your accountant for specific details.
4. Work with a well-connected real estate agent
Since fewer properties are listed between Halloween and New Year’s, you’ll want early access to the homes you’re most interested in. If you have a connected real estate agent, they’ll know about available properties ahead of time and be on the lookout for hidden gems or unpublicized listings.
Make sure your real estate agent’s communication style gels with yours, too. If you’re trying to take advantage of holiday listings, you’ll want your realtor to be responsive to both you and the seller’s agent of the property you’re interested in.
5. Inquire about Pocket Listings
Pocket listings are homes not listed on the local MLS (multiple listing service) or otherwise publicized. Sellers who want to maintain a certain level of privacy will often put their home up as a pocket listing. This is when having a savvy, connected real estate agent will really help you. Less visibility also means less competition for you as a buyer!
If you’ve found a home you love, or are ready to purchase a home, now might be the time for you! With less competition, you might have more luck putting down a smaller earnest money deposit - something that could be less successful when sellers are fielding multiple offers during busier times of year.
Take advantage of the perks and don’t let the holidays deter you from making an offer on a home this season.