Yes, Virginia, Your Holiday Shopping Can Include a House

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The holiday season can be a great time to find a bargain on a new home, experts say (Photo courtesy Pixabay).

Why would anyone want to buy or sell a house during the holiday season? Who in their right mind would want to pack and move in the middle of all those Christmas parties, family gatherings, and other assorted holiday commitments?

Turns out, plenty of people like to take advantage of a traditionally slower period to go shopping for a new house.

Reasons frequently given for wanting to shop for a house during the most happiest time of the year include the things like a need to relocate by the first of the year for a job, wanting to take advantage of everyone else’s inclination to nix the stress of home buying during the holidays (and avoid scenarios where you compete with multiple offers), home sellers that want to unload a home before the year is over, and tax benefits.

Buying when everyone else isn’t also can mean more attention from the raft of professionals you’ll work with while buying a home, too.

In some areas of Dallas, there really is no holiday slow down, said Nancy Wilson, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker.

“After selling real estate for over 20 years now, my trends show that one of our busiest times is between Halloween and Christmas,” she said. “There are a few reasons:  Prices may be a little more flexible and many people get a ‘bonus’ at work this time of year.”

It’s a good time for bargain shoppers, depending on how much you’re looking to spend on a home.

“It depends on the price point,” Rogers Healy of Rogers Healy and Associates said. “I think it’s a good time to buy if people want a good deal.”

The deals are to be found in homes that have been sitting on the market a while, especially, Healy added.

“If stuff is on the market 200 plus days, people in DFW tend to freak out,” he said.

“Buying a home in the holiday season is always a good idea because you’re looking when the majority people are not looking,” David Maez of Vivo Realty agreed, adding that the cooler temperatures also make house hunting a more enjoyable experience.

“There’s nothing fun about looking for a home in 100-plus-degree weather,” Maez said. “I think the winter time is a great time to drive neighborhoods and really take time looking at your options without worrying about multiple offers.”

“Currently we’re seeing a rise in inventory (32.5 percent), days on market (21.7 percent), and average sales price (3.4 percent),” said Bethanne Buffington of BA Real Estate Services, JK Realty. “Our months of inventory is currently at 2.9 versus this time last year when it was at 2.3.

“With this change we are seeing sellers more motivated and willing to negotiate sales price along with seller contributions to closing costs and repairs,” Buffington added. “The percentage of seller’s receiving original list price is currently at 95.9 percent versus this time last year when it was 97 percent.”

Healy said that the biggest business is done during Thanksgiving through the second week of December.

“Christmas week through the second week in January we tend to just turn off our phones, “ he laughed.

But that holiday period can be pretty plush for Realtors.

“From a Realtor perspective, that’s where we make our money for the next year,” Healy said. “Me, I work that time period, while other Realtors are taking off. I pick up the crumbs and outwork them.”

“Christmas is the same as any other week for me, with the exception of Christmas Day,” he added. “I’m single with dogs, so I’ll work.”

Buying during the holidays can give you a bit of an advantage, Maez said.

“It also gives you the upper hand in a seller’s market,” he said. “Statistics show that the housing market slows every winter, this makes sellers more willing to negotiate.”

“There are also more serious sellers on the market in the winter, because they likely must sell, otherwise, they would typically list in the summer,” he added. “In my personal experience, I have been able to get extremely good deals in the winter with my clients.”

“I personally purchased our home last winter, and was able to purchase it under market,” Maez said.

“Sellers aren’t only competing with each other,” Buffington agreed, saying her experience with the Collin County and more suburban areas has given her some insight into the new construction side of home selling, too. “They’re also competing with the overwhelming amount of new construction in the D-FW areas. The inventory of new construction homes for sale is up 20 percent whereas previously owned homes are only up 12 percent.”

“Builders are motivated to move inventory quickly towards the end of the year and are more willing to negotiate their prices as well,” she added.

Add all of that to the fact that more buyers are able to access lending options to purchase a home, and you have a bustling market that won’t stop even for a holiday season.

“On top of seller’s being more motivated potential buyers have more opportunity to buy now than we have seen in years,” Buffington said. “There are many different low down payment programs available — some being only one percent.”

“Get a motivated seller who will pay closing costs and you are purchasing your own home for literally only one percent down — and we’re seeing it happen more and more frequently,” she said. “Interest rates also are down from six months ago — not an overwhelming difference, but still lower.

That’s not to say there isn’t a bit of angst when you buy a home this close to the end of the year, and when so many of the important cogs in the homebuying process are short staffed.
“It’s all situational, but traditionally, yes, you’re under the gun,” Healy said.

But Healy, Buffington, Maez, and Wilson agree — if you want to be in a new home before the end of the year, it can happen.

“It’s all based on what works for you — that’s the beauty of this business,” Healy said. “We can’t just take off because of the season. If you want to find a home, your Realtor is going to work for you.”

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

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