A New Home at the Holidays!

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Why would anyone want to buy a home during the holidays? This is the time to celebrate the holidays, entertain friends and revel in all the joys of the season. Holidays means gifts to buy and special meals to prepare.

If you have family to deal with, try to get your holiday tasks done early so you can dedicate your time to looking at houses with your Realtor. You really don’t want to be stressed out by the long lines at the stores and the heavy traffic to and from the malls at the same time you’re house hunting.

If you aren’t hosting holiday parties or guests, this may be the perfect time for house shopping. There are several excellent reasons to buy during the holidays. The most important is that during the holidays, sellers may be under pressure and highly motivated to sell. The more pressure the seller feels, the better the price, letting you take advantage of the seller’s need to sell. A For Sale sign typically means that the seller is motivated. Some people may need to relocate for a new job at the beginning of the year; the owners may have divorced, or for tax purposes they need to sell. Whatever the reason, it helps you get a good deal when the seller is under pressure. Check with your Realtor and set up a time to view the house you have your eye on.

Another good reason is that you will have less competition from other buyers. They are celebrating with their families and you can scout the market and maybe, just maybe, get a tremendous deal.

The interest rates in June 2017 were slightly higher than at this same time last year. However, many experts expect the rates to increase. Savvy buyers will begin searching for good loans and lock in their rate as the economy improves and before rates begin to climb.

The holiday spirit helps move the process along. People feel more like helping others during the holiday season. This generous spirit may help you get a loan approved more quickly, encourage your Realtor to be more flexible with her schedule and the homeowner to lower the price slightly. You may even feel less inclined to quibble over details than at other times.

The biggest drawback during the holidays is that you will probably have fewer homes from which to choose, although a smaller inventory can work to your advantage if you have 10 homes to look at instead of 20. Too many houses can be confusing when you are buying.

Many sellers will withdraw their listing during the holidays. Realtors may know of houses that were previously listed, but didn’t sell; they can search for homes that are coming on the market next year. The Realtor’s experience can help you find homes other than the ones listed if you don’t find what you are looking for. Just don’t get hung up on the idea of a perfect house; there is no such thing.

Snow covers a lot of faults, and this is true with houses. Be sure to get a home inspection and ask to see a picture of the house taken earlier in the year. You don’t want to be surprised by a major flaw in your new home when the snow melts.

Tips from the Professionals
Be considerate of the seller and your Realtor by requesting a showing with a longer lead time than you might at other times.

For most buyers, purchasing a home takes about two to three months. You can get a jump on the competition by being pre-approved before you set out to view houses. Getting a pre-approved mortgage is not difficult if you have good credit, but it is time consuming. You will need to provide the mortgage lender with W-2 forms for two years, two years of tax returns and proof of funds for your down payment. Saving this information digitally can make it easier for you. There may be other paperwork required depending on the lender. Inquire about government down payment assistance loans.

During the holidays, there may be fewer loans to approve, so the lender may be able to move faster on your paperwork but, on the other hand, there will be more people out on vacation. Once you are pre-approved, the lender will issue a written statement valid for up 90 to 120 days.

Despite the paperwork required, you should get at least three quotes from different lenders. For a small fee, a mortgage broker can submit your paperwork to several lenders for you. The savings obtained by getting the best loan makes the service worth it. You can save thousands of dollars over the life of a 15- or 30-year loan by comparison shopping.

Happy hunting! ■

Sources: bankrate.com, interest.com, money.usnews.com, realtytimes.com and realtor.com.