'Tis the season… to look for houses? It may seem counterintuitive since it's actually a slower time of year and there may be fewer houses on the market, but the holiday season might actually be the ideal time to house hunt. Here are three reasons why:
1. You can see what's behind the summer sheen
In the parts of the country that get cold at this time of year, this is a great time of year to get to see how any house you're interested in buying handles drastic weather, whether that's a frozen driveway or a home that doesn't feel evenly heated throughout.
"You can learn a lot more about a home in the winter time," says Bruce Ailion, a broker at RE/MAX Town and Country in Marietta, Georgia. "For example, if you're looking for a home in an area where trees shed their leaves, you can see what's going on in the adjacent properties that may have been hidden by foliage."
2. You have leverage at the negotiating table
Usually the inventory of homes available by the time the holidays come around are ones in which the sellers need to sell the house—fast.
"With this in mind, buyers can usually make offers below market value," says Luke Babich, a real estate agent at Clever Real Estate in St. Louis, Missouri. "The time of year forces the seller to make concessions at the closing table if they really need to sell and the home didn't move during the busier summer season."
3. You're not rushed to make a decision
The holidays are a pivot period, sandwiched between the generally super-busy summer season and the dull days of winter.
"Since the holidays come before one of the traditionally slower times of year for house hunting, namely January and February, this is a great time to house hunt," says Christian Rogers, a senior agent at Compass in New York City. "Those months are slow because many people are in a 'back-to-work' mentality and in some parts of the country nasty weather can deter all but the most committed of buyers. So a buyer who places an offer during the holidays can take advantage of the likelihood that the coming month or so will be relatively quiet in terms of visits by other buyers."