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Buying A Home During The Holidays: 5 Top Strategies

Dahna Chandler
The Mortgage Reports contributor

Buying A Home During The Holidays: It’s A Thing

There are a variety of reasons for buying a home during the holidays.

The advantages of purchasing at this time of year include less competition for homes, year-end tax advantages, lower home prices and faster closings.

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Plan For Holiday Savings

However, you won’t get the best home for your money if you don’t properly leverage these benefits of buying during the holidays.

You don’t want to miss deals or a December 31 deadline, if you have one, so you’ll need an organized approach to holiday house purchasing. Often, homebuyers forget this in a rush to close before year-end while dealing with holiday activities.

You should know what you want to accomplish when buying a new home during the holidays to get the best deal and take advantage of year-end tax incentives.

By incorporating these five strategies, you can start the year with savings — in your new home.

Hire A Well-Connected Real Estate Agent

In many areas, a handful of real estate agents sell the majority of houses. Usually, they are at the biggest agencies, and they talk to each other about what’s coming on the market.

This is important, because fewer properties are listed between Halloween and New Year’s Day. You want early access to as many houses as possible (like the un-publicized listings discussed in the next section), and a successful, connected agent can help you get it.

Just make sure this agent is available regularly and quickly by email, mobile or phone. You require your agent’s help throughout the entire negotiation and escrow process, and updates at every step through closing.

Ask selling agents how available they’ll be during the next few weeks. Find one who is motivated to make a year-end quota or for whom working during the holidays is as important as the rest of the year.

Ask About “Pocket Listings” 

“Pocket listings” are homes not listed on local multiple listing services (MLS) or otherwise publicized.

Once reserved for very high-end or celebrity homes, the pocket listing today is used by “regular” sellers who don’t want to be inundated with “looky-loos,” or those who don’t want it widely known that they’re selling.

Often, these sellers only want the most motivated and qualified buyers to see their property, so only their real estate agents know the home’s for sale. Some of the most desirable houses in a neighborhood may be hidden this way.

Other sellers choose pocket listings in order to pay a lower real estate commission. If these sellers are willing to share that savings, it can be an advantage to you as well.

The other advantage of pocket listings is that with less publicity comes less competition from other buyers.

However, don’t assume you’re getting a bargain. Research comparable properties for sale in the area to get the best deals, and compare these offerings to homes listed publicly or on the MLS.

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Find Motivated Sellers

It shouldn’t be hard during the holidays to find distressed properties. Many sellers who list their homes around this time are motivated to sell.

A recent divorce, death in the family, financial reversal, a job relocation or other personal change of circumstances are some reasons homes go up for sale during this time of year.

Whatever the reason, you can benefit by negotiating a great price on the house. Since it’s the holidays, be empathetic but don’t be afraid to low-ball your offer.

You may ask for other incentives to buy, like a closing date that’s best for you. Request things you want like appliances and furniture to be included in the price, too, since you may get them.

Remember, though, that weather can hide defects, so be extra vigilant during this process — damage to roofs, septic tanks, foundations, etc., may be obscured by snow and difficult to inspect.

Find Investors Or Builders Trying To Move Inventory

For other motivated sellers, their incentive is business rather than personal. They are trying to minimize losses or reduce taxes by timing their sale before year-end.

You can find holiday deals with builders like upgrades on carpeting, paint, and cabinets. Leverage the builder’s desire to move inventory by December 31 by purchasing existing homes.

Buy from reputable builders by researching them thoroughly or getting referrals from people you trust.

You can get well-priced houses from real estate investors now, too, since they often have to unload homes quickly, especially if they weren’t planning to have property for sale during the holidays.

The longer they have the house, the more holding costs they’ll pay. You may get one of those houses at a better price than you would have a few months earlier.

As with all sales, don’t waive home inspections. For distress sales, consider an inspection by a structural engineer, because they can see problems a home inspector can’t.

Negotiate Costs

Fewer homebuying transactions occur during the holidays, and some salespeople get bonuses for hitting annual goals. You may be able to negotiate discounts on commissions, or on services like title and escrow by closing before December 31.

Know that as the buyer, you’re entitled to choose the title insurer, escrow company, mortgage lender and home inspector.

You don’t get to pick your appraiser, however, if you finance your property purchase. That’s to ensure that the valuation is objective.

What Are Today’s Mortgage Rates?

Recently, mortgage rates have edged a little higher, but housing is financing is still very affordable, Choosing the right program and lender can maximize your purchasing power.

Verify your new rate (Jun 20th, 2019)