Expert Advice for Buying a Home During the Holidays
Buying a house during the holidays can be done—and done well—with a little planning and an expert real estate agent by your side. (Me!)
House hunting in December might seem like a chaotic idea, but there are some key advantages to buying now. December is one of the slowest months for home sales, so you have a better chance of landing your dream home at a great price. Even if you have cookies to bake and houseguests to manage, you deserve the best gift for yourself and your family—a new home.
How do you minimize stress and buy a house during the holidays? These are our top tips.
Everyone is busy during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you have to put buying a home in December on the back burner. Instead, you'll have to plan ahead. You may have numerous people in town, so book house hunting time with your real estate agent around those visitors. You'll also want to add some flexibility into your schedule, since homeowners and other key players in the process may go out of town, causing delays in response times.
Get preapproved and watch your finances
When buying a house during the holidays, you’ll need to keep an eye on your finances. Gift shopping and large purchases often take center stage this time of year, but it's important to not add debt to your debt-to-credit ratio when you're about to apply for a mortgage.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage through your lender as soon as possible—before lenders take time off for the holidays. That way, the home purchase transaction is faster and smoother for you, which means less time applying for loans or chasing down documentation of your taxes from last year.
Understand your leverage
There are usually fewer buyers in the market during the holiday season. That means sellers who want to sell quickly are more likely to take an offer that favors you. That provides you with an opportunity for lower home prices, mortgage buydowns, and other favorable terms. Work with your real estate agent to create an offer that's competitive while taking advantage of the buyer-friendly time of year.
Remember the tax breaks
Should you purchase a home in December or wait until next year? If you're on the fence, the tax breaks for being a homeowner might motivate you. Though it’s best to talk to your tax professional about the specifics of your situation, homeowner tax deductions typically apply to the year in which the home was purchased. Those deductions include:
- Mortgage interest
- Discount points
- Property tax deductions
- Mortgage insurance deductions
- Necessary home improvements
These will apply any year you purchase your home—but why not get a tax break this year instead of waiting? If you find your ideal home and the price is right, there’s no reason to hold back.
Hire the right real estate agent
Hiring the right real estate agent is one of the most important moves you can make any time you purchase a home—but discussing your year-end home search is especially crucial. You need someone who is engaged and focused, knows the area, and is available to find the home you need at the price you want, stay on top of communication, and help your process run smoothly. Someone who will be out of town or has too many other obligations this time of the year may not be the best choice.
Choose a real estate agent who can tap into their network, too, helping you find homes that may not be listed on the MLS. You deserve the perfect property that checks off all your must-haves and nice-to-haves, and the best agents will find it even when the market is slow.