When you're writing out the holiday shopping list, maybe it's time to put your name on it and a home as the gift. If you've been considering buying a home, here are a few reasons why shopping for one during the holiday season can benefit you.
Yes, it may involve you really prioritizing your time; the holiday season is a busy time. But if you can make time to house-hunt and you have already been pre-approved so you know how much home you can afford, then this could be a very good experience. And it may lead you to a new home in time for Christmas!
Like many businesses, the holiday season can cause things to slow way down. That's often the case for real estate. However, that doesn't mean you won't find eager sellers hoping you'll make an offer on their homes. Even though there are parties, kids' social activities and end-of-the-year work commitments, real estate sellers are still ready to let you step inside their homes to see if you'll find one is a good fit.
When real estate slows down, that means mortgages slow down. So this is a good time to get a mortgage. There's a chance your loan will move through the process faster. That doesn't mean you will have lax guidelines, rather it means that if there are fewer loans to process, yours can move along faster.
Some say that you have fewer options because inventory drops during the holiday season. While that may be true, it doesn't mean that every seller takes their home off the market. Sellers with their homes on the market during the end-of-the-year months are typically serious sellers. There may be tax reasons motivating a seller to sell before the end of the year which could create greater opportunities for negotiation. There's likely a sense of urgency on the seller's side.
Often home prices are lower in December than in other months. If you wait until the spring, you're likely to wish you'd, at least, done some house-hunting. Industry reporting services often show home appreciation slows in the fourth quarter, making homes more affordable.
Since it is a busy time of year, you may find that there aren't many buyers shopping for homes, which is exactly why this may be a good time to house-hunt. Fewer buyers could mean a great opportunity for you to make an offer and negotiate a favorable price. However, fewer homes to choose from could mean you have more difficulty finding precisely what you're looking for. But too many homes can also create a no-win situation by confusing and overwhelming you.
Shop smart by making a list of the "must-have" and the "really-would-like" items. Carry the list with you or use a home-buyers' app to keep it on your smartphone. It's much like a holiday gift shopping list - better to know who you're buying for, how much you want to spend, and, at least, an idea of what you'd like to get that person. Same goes for a home.
Simplify the house-hunting process by having some written notes about what you intend to buy. Of course, things do change, so be open to discovering that dream home that has something on your list you never knew you needed or wanted. Your list will just help you evaluate and prioritize which things in a home are most important to you. Then instead of unwrapping this holiday season, you might be wrapping up and packing up your belongings!
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