Turkeys and tinsel, pumpkin pie and Christmas gifts. The holidays are here again, and it's the perfect time for house hunting! We know you're busy planning family feasts and much-needed vacations while dealing with blustery weather, but here's why you should buy this season. While it might seem counterintuitive to put a big-ticket item like a home on your holiday shopping list, it really does make sense.
Don't believe us? Check out these surprisingly smart reasons to let everyone else hit the mall to buy half-off sweaters while you make the purchase of a lifetime: a new house to ring in the New Year!
1. Less competition from home buyers
Most buyers take the month off to celebrate the holidays, attend parties, and host out-of-town guests. Or, maybe they’ve heard that this is a lousy time to buy a house. Whatever the reason, shopping for real estate at a time when fewer buyers are in the market can pay off big. (That’s because competing with multiple offers is one of the most stressful parts of the home-buying process.)
2. Motivated home sellers
The December seller is likely to be serious and motivated—and therefore more open to negotiation. So what you might lack in choice of available homes could be balanced out by dealing with a more flexible seller.
Most sellers have a compelling reason for putting their house on the market during the holidays. They might be facing a relocation and want to get their kids settled before the new term. Or they might also want a contract in hand for tax advantages. If it's a rental property on which they incurred a loss, they are likely to want to take the deduction.
Another tax-related reason: If sellers are likely to make a hefty profit and have a salary raise set to kick in on Jan. 1, they might be subject to a higher capital gains tax on their home sale in the coming year. In this scenario, sellers may want to unload a property before the new year.
3. Tax advantages
In case you weren't aware, the tax benefits go both ways. Buying now can help you save in April and beyond. Homeownership brings numerous tax perks, from deducting mortgage interest to property taxes. Also, many closing fees are tax-deductible if you itemize—although you should always double-check with your accountant about any tax questions.
4. A realistic picture of the house
What house doesn’t look amazing in the typical spring buying season, with newly planted flowers and plenty of sunlight streaming through the windows? Checking it out during the miserable winter season, on the other hand, might give you a more accurate idea of what you might be living with the rest of the year.
In addition to seeing the house, warts and all, you can check for issues that you'd notice only during cold weather. Maybe there's a bedroom in the home that doesn't get sufficient heat, or the front door gets jammed in icy conditions.
5. Greater accessibility to professionals
Since December is usually a slower month all around, you will have easier access to movers, inspectors, and mortgage brokers. In addition, your real estate agent will be more likely to have fewer client demands and will be able to have more time for you.