Deciding to buy a house is a big deal. If you’ve recently gone through the whole house vs. apartment dilemma and decided on a house, you’re probably facing a new one. Should you be buying a house during the holidays? As the holiday season has slowly crept up on us again, most of us find ourselves full of obligations. From balancing our ongoing commitments with holiday get-togethers to shopping for gifts and spending time hunting the best bargains in retail stores. During this time, not many people have househunting on their minds. However, it’s important to know that the magic of the holiday season doesn’t stop at retail stores in the mall and online. It offers unique real estate opportunities and several potential savings. Of course, doing this also comes with certain drawbacks. To help you weigh the pros and cons properly, we have compiled this short list of the most important things to consider.
Pro: There is less competition for house hunters during holidays
During the holidays, the retail industry is basically kicked into high gear. However, on the opposite side of the spending spectrum, the real estate market usually slows down. With most people focusing on gifts and entertainment, the generally highly competitive housing market becomes slow and steady. If you want to make use of the shrinking pool of competitive buyers, your best bet is to shop during the off-season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
Aside from increasing your chances of getting the house of your choice, you’re also more likely to get better service from your agent. And mainly because they are balancing their time between fewer clients. Not to mention that you will mostly avoid getting into a bidding war with another buyer. Unlike the peak season between March and August, when you’re likely to have a wider selection of houses to look at and the competition is stiff, you’ll likely get a much better deal on the house during this time.
Pro: The slower pace of holiday real estate sales gives you time to think things through
The fact that there’s a lot less competition during the holidays also means that you’ll have more time to think about the sale. It’s common for buyers looking for a home in competitive markets to feel pressure to hastily make offers without even considering the downsides and issues with the home they are buying. With the slower pace of buying a house during the holidays, you’ll have more chances to rethink your decisions and make the best informed, thoughtful decision for your situation.
Pro: Sellers are usually much more motivated during the holidays
People who put their homes on the market during the holiday season have a good reason to do so. They might be in a hurry to sell. In most cases, the fact that the seller would be so motivated to sell can give you leverage when negotiating.
Additionally, you’ll also probably be able to find a better bargain on foreclosed houses. During the holidays, financial institutions usually seek to get rid of them before the end of the year. And in terms of new construction, builders might also be more flexible when negotiating before the year ends.
Pro: You’ll have better luck with finding low-interest-rate mortgages
Because of reduced demand, it’s very common for mortgage interest rates to drop during the holiday season. Arranging financing during this time may result in lower monthly payments and spending less money on your home in the long term. However, you should keep in mind that this isn’t always the case. If you’re lucky enough to come across a low-interest-rate loan during this time, that’s great. Combining this with some creative ways to reduce your down payment spending can add up to a lot of saved money. But you shouldn’t place all of your bets on it.
Cons: There will be fewer options
One of the most significant issues you’ll encounter when trying to find a home to buy during this time is that your options will be minimal. The reason for this is very simple. Few people are looking to sell during the holidays. Again, if you find a home you like, you’ll have a much easier job ahead of you when it comes to closing the deal.
Cons: The weather can be a much bigger issue than you anticipate
Depending on where you live, problematic weather can be a real bother during this time. Especially if you’re buying a house during the holidays. Two central problems come with bad weather conditions. Firstly, it can be much harder to notice problems outside of the home at first glance. Even more, if a full sheet of snow covers most of the outside. It can even obstruct your home inspection.
Secondly, most sellers want to have you move in and pay your price as soon as possible. And the weather can make this very difficult. However, there are ways to ensure your moving process goes as smoothly as possible. Ways such as hiring professional movers, learning to properly pack your things, and creating a residential moving checklist. It’s great to put everything on paper to stay more organized and not forget anything.
Cons: You will need to be more patient if you want to buy a house during the holiday season
People’s schedules during the holidays vary, but the general rule is that most people like to take more time off and go on vacation. This means that every part of the home-buying process will take more time. Your real estate agent will be able to pay more attention to you, but they’ll also probably be working way less in general. The same goes for home inspectors, professional movers, and staff at financial institutions.
There are many reasons to own a house, from living in it to investing in something secure to just working to boost your retirement income. And, like any other time, buying a house during the holidays comes with its own set of difficulties and advantages. On the one hand, you will have to find a way to work with everyone’s relaxed schedules. You’ll have to be patient and thorough. On the other hand, if you put in the work, you can come out the other side with significant savings and a new home.