Buying a home can be an exciting but often stressful process. Setting up showings, applying for mortgage financing, negotiating with sellers…it can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared. And if you’re buying around the holidays, there may be additional factors to consider. In today’s post, we’ll go over some of those factors and offer a few tips for managing the stress of buying a home during the holiday season.
Here are five things to consider when searching for your dream home over the holidays:
1.) You Could Find a Great Deal
The typical busy season for real estate is the spring and summer, so choosing to buy during the slower months could mean finding a great home at a better price. The downside to this is you may not have as much negotiating power during the off season, as many home sellers have already reduced their prices. If you come in with a low ball offer, it could offend the sellers and they may decide to wait for the next offer, or simply re-list their home after the new year when the market heats up.
2.) It Could Help With Your Taxes
If you are able to close on a home by the end of the year, you can itemize some of your moving expenses, including real estate tax and mortgage interest.* In some cases, you may even be able to include the costs of hiring movers, if you’re relocating due to work. Since moving can be a costly experience, it would be nice to enjoy those tax benefits now, instead of a year from now.
*Please note, the author of this blog is not a tax professional. Consult your tax professional for more information on deducting home buying expenses.
3.) Timing Is Everything
The closer you get to the holidays, the more likely it is that offices will be closing, people will be working limited hours, sellers may have more restricted schedules for showings, etc. This is why buying during the holidays can seem restrictive to some house hunters; however, this simply means you may need to be extra diligent about planning, communication and timing your meetings. For example, if you want to close on your home before the end of the year, it may be wise to try to get everything lined up before the week of Christmas. After the 25th, there are only a few days left before the New Year holiday, so it make sense to get things settled as soon as possible.
4.) You Might Lock In A Lower Interest Rate
Mortgage rates move periodically throughout the week, and sometimes even day-to-day. It’s not uncommon for rates to hit a lower point during the holidays, since fewer people are looking to borrow. Reach out to your mortgage professional to discuss the best time to lock in your mortgage rate.
5.) Less Competition From Buyers
Since fewer people are buying homes during this time of year, those buyers who do come out can enjoy a market that’s less saturated with other house hunters. This means you may stand a better chance of having your offer accepted, but again, be cautious about low balling. You don’t want to make the mistake of thinking you have the high ground just because you’re buying during a slower season. Keep in mind, we are currently in a seller’s market across the United States. Even during the slow winter season, there is likely going to be more demand than supply.
Holiday Stress + Buying a Home = Potential Disaster
The holiday season comes with a lot of pressure. Pressure to buy gifts, pressure to donate to charity, pressure to have the best decorations on the block, and obligations to family and friends. Adding a major life change into the mix (such as buying a house) could overwhelm anybody. Here are a few tips for managing the stress of the holiday season while purchasing a new home:
Give yourself permission to skip family/social events.
Now that you’re in the home buying process, you’re going to be busy. You will have limited free time and the time you do have should be used to recharge and relax. Your friends and family should understand.
Don’t go into debt.
Um, hello! You’re about to make what is likely the biggest purchase of your life! You don’t need to add to your debt by charging hundreds of dollars to a credit card for Christmas gifts, holiday decor, or anything else for that matter. Besides, if you’re planning on applying for a mortgage, you really don’t want to take on any new debt just before filling out the application — this could alter your credit score and cause you to be denied for a mortgage, or it could jeopardize your chances of getting the most favorable rate and/or terms.
If you start to feel yourself getting overwhelmed at any point in the process, just stop and take a few deep breaths. Let yourself calm down, refocus and ask for help if you need it. When emotions run high, mistakes are more likely to be made. You don’t want to make a big decision like buying a home or signing a mortgage contract when you’re under a lot of pressure. You could wind up making a mistake that you’ll have to live with for a very long time.
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