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2013-12-10 14:03:44
Home buyers could catch deals during holidays

Home buyers could catch deals during holidays

President’s Message - Cal Musselman

             With Utah’s first big snow storm of the season hitting this week, many people are thinking about the holidays — not home-buying.

            Yet holiday home-buying offers many advantages, especially for buyers who faced intense competition earlier this spring.

            ‘This summer and spring home-buying season was particularly challenging for buyers, especially first-time home buyers trying to compete with all-cash offers and bidding wars because of reduced inventory,” said Alison Schwartz, vice president of corporate communications at Realtor.com, which recently surveyed buyers. “In fact, a quarter of the winter home buyers revealed they are in the market now because they were unable to find a home during this last home-buying season.”

            Realtor.com’s Winter Home Buyer Report found that consumers are willing to house-hunt in the cold because they think they can get a better deal during the holidays. In fact, 26 percent of respondents said sellers are more motivated to sell and more willing to negotiate during the winter. About a quarter of survey respondents also said they think home prices will be better.

                That’s because sellers are typically more motivated in the cold weather months. Winter isn’t an ideal time to pack up and move, so those sellers who do have their homes on the market are typically more serious about getting them sold. Perhaps a job transfer or other personal circumstance requires the homeowner to make a quick sale.

That urgency means a buyer could get a better deal because a seller who is in a crunch may be willing to negotiate more. In fact, statistics from the Utah Association of Realtors consistently show the median price for a home rises in the spring and declines in the winter.

            As the housing market accelerated this spring, many potential buyers found themselves outbid as consumers fought for a limited number of homes for sale. Buyers who missed their opportunity then are now hoping they can find a home while others are thinking about the holidays.

The Realtor.com survey said 24 percent of respondents were unable to buy a house during the spring and summer months. In fact, one fifth said they think there will be less competition during the winter.

“Motivated sellers, better prices and less competition between buyers are some of the top reasons winter home buyers are interested in purchasing a home during the colder months of the year,” Schwartz said.

However, winter buyers also have challenges.  Nearly half of respondents said there is not enough inventory in their price range, and 34 percent said there is not enough inventory on the market in general. Almost a third of buyers who took the survey also said the winter weather makes house-hunting unpleasant.

Yet, for those who are looking to leverage their negotiation position, buying during the holidays may be the perfect time.

The best homes always sell the fastest, regardless of the market. If there are fewer buyers, that increases the likelihood of getting one of the top listings. Plus, with fewer competitors, buyers can spend more time shopping and analyzing homes with less worry about someone snatching up their favorite one.

If buyers are worried about not having a large selection of homes to choose from, they can ask their Realtor for leads on properties that are likely to be put up for sale.

Another advantage to winter buying is the fact that lenders and other real estate service providers have less business in the colder months, which means buyers will likely see faster processing times and a smoother approval process.

Consumers can learn more about the pros and cons of buying and selling a home in the winter by contacting a local Realtor. A directory of Utah Realtors is available at UtahRealtors.com. 

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