Surprising reasons to buy a house in real estate's 'worst month'
The holidays might not be the most popular time to buy a home, but with lower buyer competition, motivated sellers, and year-end tax benefits, there are some good reasons to consider hitting "Pause" on decking the halls and high-tailing it to some open houses in San Francisco, CA, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and all spots in between! So, if you're in the market, take note of these seven benefits and then call your agent. December just might be the most wonderful time of year ... to be house hunting!
1. Bargain prices
The final month of the year is known for frantic shopping and countless holiday parties but not necessarily for purchasing a home — and this can work in your favor. With fewer buyers in the marketplace, the available homes for sale are priced to sell. Plus, with fewer active buyers, there's less likelihood of multiple offers, bidding wars, and escalator clauses.
2. Flexible schedules
There's no need to wait until Saturday or Sunday to cram eight house showings into your schedule. Rather than using up your precious weekends, take an end-of-year vacation day on a weekday to check out the available inventory (especially if your company has a "use it or lose it" policy). Chances are, your agent has some time on their hands as well and would appreciate staying busy throughout December.
3. Motivated sellers
If a home is on the real estate market in December, there's usually a specific reason the sellers are looking to move: It could be job relocation, financial hardship, or personal change of circumstance. Regardless, it gives you an opportunity to negotiate a sweet deal — lowball the listing price and ask for a closing date that works with your schedule.
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4. Tax benefits
Purchasing a home in 2016 is good for your bottom line when tax time rolls around. If you close by December 31, you can deduct property taxes, mortgage interest, origination points on your loan, and interest costs — all while building equity in your home. These deductions can be huge money savers, especially in the early years of your loan when you're paying off interest.
5. Lending lull
With everyone off celebrating the holidays, December is traditionally a lean month for mortgage brokers. That gives you an advantage in building the best possible mortgage you can. Since there are fewer real estate transactions, loan officers may be motivated to offer special incentives and possibly waive or reduce origination fees. With so few loans in the pipeline, underwriting turnaround times will be quick. You may be able to negotiate a better price with the seller if you're able to close the purchase in under 30 days.
6. Vendor availability
A moving company's December calendar usually resembles a ghost town. Not only will you be able to secure movers on short notice, but with competition for prime time slots (weekends) nonexistent, you could probably score a deal as well. Ask the movers to consider throwing in a couple of moving hours for free or additional packing materials and boxes at no cost. The same tactic may also work with contractors, repairmen, and home inspection services.
7. Builder incentives
If you're building a new home, ask about holiday incentives — builders typically roll them out to finish the year with a bang. If upgrades such as custom cabinets, quality carpeting, and designer paint colors are on your holiday wish list, December may be the ideal time to purchase a new-construction home. With fewer units sold throughout the month, the last few days of the year are particularly important for sales.
New to December home buying? Share your experiences in the comments!
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