The Huge Advantages of Home Buying During the Holiday Season
by Ed Kunkel Jr., military Veteran and Realtor®
It seems like every year I am asked by both buyers and sellers, ‘is it worth the trouble to buy a home during the fall, winter, and the holiday season?’ The answer is an astounding yes!
Buyers can benefit from being in the market in autumn and winter, and particularly so for the advantages that this current market has to offer.
As a real estate agent, I thoroughly enjoy this time of year. I meet new people that are excited to be settled in their new home before the holidays, and there’s usually nothing stopping them from doing so.
So many buyers during October, November, and December are eager to enjoy a myriad of celebrations and family gatherings that happen during these months. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are just a few of the holidays that motivate buyers to close on a home quickly.
Buyer Advantages during the Holiday Season
Consider the advantages for buyers during this season. One thing for sure is, great deals still exist! Where I am, in Thurston County, Washington, there are currently over 300 homes on the market that are priced below the median average, with an added 900+ homes value priced in Pierce county!
These counties are close to Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM). If your daily commute includes this destination, why would you not take advantage of paying for a home for about what you would otherwise pay in rent? Especially during this time of year when prices are great.
Rates are still ridiculously low, as compared to the peak of the market in 2007, and we will likely see new loan incentives through the next few quarters that will encourage continued movement in the market.
Less Buyer Competition during the Winter
Another advantage during this time of year is less buyer competition. Real estate sells all year round, but consumer activity comes in waves. One wave comes and goes during the summer. The odds are you are less likely to be engaged in a bidding war during the winter than you would be during the summer.
Also, you know you have a motivated seller if they are willing to keep their home on the market through less-than-favorable weather conditions.
Investors also benefit greatly from less competition, and this is a golden opportunity for them to make bids on holdover short sales and REO’s that didn’t sell during the last summer wave.
Winter is a Great Time for the Home Inspection
It sounds strange, but the weather can benefit your home search during fall and winter. It’s sometimes difficult to determine the home’s resilience to the elements with clear skies and no storms.
The best time to get a home inspection is during bad weather, to see how the home holds up to the elements. If there’s a leak in the roof, it’s easier to find in the rain of course.
Likewise, it’s easier to pinpoint drafts, moisture problems, and other issues that are more prone to be found when the weather is bad.
And when searching for unimproved land or acreage, this is the time to find out if you want to know whether or not a property floods.
Buying Bank-Owned Foreclosures and REO During the Winter
One challenge home buyers face in the fall and winter is if they’re considering a bank-owned or real estate owned properties (REO).
By now, homes in this category are being winterized, and the power may also be shut off. It’s difficult to view homes in this condition, and inspecting them can be a bigger challenge.
When you’re considering making a bid on such a home, make sure you understand what is expected of you from the seller. If the home is weatherized, it means the water is shut off, and the pipes are sealed and filled with antifreeze. In order to properly inspect a home, you will have to void the winterization and have the water turned back on – and you may be the one that is responsible for paying a connect fee with the local utility as applicable.
The seller may also require you to have the home winterized again once you’ve completed your inspection – even if your inspection is approved.
Additionally, the power may be shut off, and you may be responsible for having the power turned on for your inspection. Don’t be alarmed or discouraged by these expectations of the REO owners, just be prepared and be ready to ask questions and confirm what you will need to do to move forward on your accepted bid.
Hopefully, a lower price on these homes makes up for the extra trouble and possible expense of the inspection.
Having a Knowledgeable Agent is Valuable During the Holidays
As we pondered some common challenges and advantages that this time of year brings to the home buying experience, be most mindful of who is helping you navigate through them effectively.
It pays to have knowledgeable people helping you realize your goals and dreams, while advising you on how to tackle what would otherwise be some daunting issues.
An experienced agent will be a great resource for buying or selling a home – and be a great resource for referring you to inspectors, contractors, surveyors, engineers, specialty contractors, insurance agents, and more. I’m here to help fill that role, or to just answer questions if you’re in need.
Ed Kunkel, Jr. is a Managing Broker/Realtor® at Keller Williams Realty in Olympia, Washington. Visit Ed here. Ed’s Military History: Veteran – U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve; Highest rank, E5; 11 years combined military service.