Buying a home during the holidays offers more benefits than most people realize – less competition from other buyers who may be sitting on the sidelines, lower rates resulting from cyclical slowdowns in the economy, sellers more motivated to sell, and more opportunity to see a home at it’s worst – more problems are apparent during cold, snowy, or rainy seasons than when outside weather is dry and warm. All that said, there are certain hurdles and things to keep in mind when buying a home during the holidays or at any point toward the end of the year that buyer’s should be aware of.
Anyone buying a home during the holidays should factor those holidays into their timeline, especially once they find a home and it’s time to structure a contract. Holidays mean banks (and lenders) are generally closed, staffs run a bit thinner as people take vacation and travel to be with family), and many one day holidays lead to more than single-day delays. For example, with Veteran’s Day on a Monday, many banks and lending operations will close early on the preceding Friday. With Thanksgiving being on a Thursday, many businesses will be closed or will be working with short staffs Friday. This doesn’t mean a long process, but it does mean a few extra days should be anticipated.
When buying a home during the holidays, many people think they’ll get a steal on their new home, or a Black Friday-esque price tag on their new home. While there is less competition and prices often see a small lag during the winter months, the market is still the market. In a hot area with limited inventory, buyers shouldn’t expect firesale prices on their new home. With less competition out, though, they may have less stress from competing offers. It’s important to make a strong offer to ensure if you love a house, you’ll be able to get your offer accepted and turn it into your home.
While the mortgage process is easy for most buyers (we’d argue, easiest when you work with MasonMac), it’s important to take into consideration that you will have to do some legwork – providing documents, returning disclosures, and actually going out to see homes during the holiday season will need to fit into your schedule. If you’ll be traveling or MIA for any period of time, it’s important to communicate that to your real estate agent and lender in advance so that your time away won’t shake up the process.
Know your Deadlines
If you want to be in your new home before Christmas, you should have found your new home by Thanksgiving. The purchase process generally takes anywhere from 3-4 weeks, so it’s important to keep that timeline in mind when planning to make a move. Everyone involved in the process will likely have some type of travel or time away from the office planned – that includes appraisers, title/escrow companies, and yes, even sellers – so keep this in mind as scheduling showings may even take a bit longer if you need a seller or seller’s agent to let you access a home.
The Big Picture
Overall, winter is a great time to buy or sell real estate, and buying a home during the holidays typically means less competition, more motivated buyers and sellers, and a process that doesn’t vary much from buying a home at any other time of year. Timing, expectations on people, and communication about time in or away from the office (or for buyers, time that will be spent out of time or unavailable) is important to maintaining timelines and ensuring all contractual dates are met. With this post coming at the end of October, there’s still plenty of time to find and settle on a new home in time for the holidays, and certainly time to find a new home before the new year.