When people hear the words “holiday season,” they usually think of spending time with family members, chilling in the fireplace and snagging huge discounts at the mall. Although some are looking for excellent holiday gifts and watching Disney Christmas movies, others are getting serious about a home purchase.
The winter holiday season can serve as a wonderful time of year to buy a residential property. The competition isn’t stiff during this period, as there’s not much rivalry from other house hunters.
If you want to bump up your chances of scoring your dream house before the apple drops in Times Square, you’ll need an organized approach to home buying.
Here are eight strategies you can follow to help you buy the home you want:
Search for a Reliable Lender
Snagging excellent mortgage rates isn’t enough. You also need to use the services of a reputable, knowledgeable and reliable home loan lender. Find someone that’s a phone call or a short drive away from your location. This is crucial for home buying transactions that may occur during the frenzy of the holidays. Also, you can get ahead of the competition when you have a lender that can look over your financial options and provide the best-case scenarios.
Look for Motivated Sellers
Sellers who own distressed homes are motivated to sell their properties during the holiday season. Some reasons houses go up for sale during this period include:
- The need to relocate to another state before the end of the year
- Death in the family
- Unfortunate financial circumstances
- A recent divorce
Regardless of the reason, you stand to benefit by renegotiating the price of your dream home. Given that you’re buying in the holiday season, don’t hesitate to low-ball your offer. Alternatively, you could request other incentives when you purchase a house, such as the inclusion of furniture and a closing date that works for you.
Find Builders or Investors Looking to Move Inventory
Some property owners are trying to minimize taxes or reduce losses by timing their sale on the holiday season. You can find excellent holiday deals with upgrades, such as furniture, house paint and flooring. Leverage the desire of the builder to move inventory on or before December 31 by buying existing houses. Make sure that purchase only from trustworthy builders by obtaining referrals or researching the company thoroughly.
Other than builders, obtain well-priced residential properties from real estate investors. Some of them may need to unload their houses quickly. The reason is that they’ll pay more holding costs the longer they have the property. You’re likely to snag a good deal when you transact and negotiate with these investors.
Check for Pocket Listings
The term “pocket listings” refers to residential properties not publicized or found on local multiple listing services. The pocket listing was typically for celebrity or high-end houses. Today, regular sellers who are discreetly selling their homes use this form of listing.
The biggest advantage of this type of listing is the lack of publicity. Less publicity translates to less competition, which could work in your favor when you’re trying to buy a dream home.
Avoid Incurring New Debts
When you apply for a mortgage to purchase a house, your loan underwriter will examine and consider your existing debt and credit standing. Although achieving zero debt isn’t a requirement for securing a home loan, you need to pay down your debt consistently to be in the financial position possible.
While you’re in the process of getting a house, avoid making big purchases, such as a new TV or car. Use debit cards or cash as much as you can.
Stick to Your Home Buying Budget
Figure out how much you can afford to spend on your new house. Do this before you start checking out potential residential properties.
When calculating your home buying budget, follow the traditional 25 percent rule, which states that your monthly mortgage payments should not exceed 25 percent of your monthly gross income.
Be Flexible When Viewing Homes for Sale
Checking out properties during the holidays can be tricky due to possible schedule conflicts. As a potential home buyer, take note that the people you’ll depend on, such as sellers, home inspectors and lenders, will likely have complicated travel and holiday plans. During this season, be flexible and roll with the punches.
Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan
Securing a mortgage pre-approval (which is different from a home loan pre-qualification) shows that you’re a serious home buyer. You’re essentially demonstrating to sellers and their agents that you’re committed to purchasing a house, as you have financing in place. As much as possible, try to get pre-approved before you start home hunting.
Keep these eight suggestions in mind when buying your dream home during the holidays. Look at the season as the perfect opportunity to get ahead of the competition and snag the house you want before the year ends.