- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2000

During the holidays a lot of buyers and sellers tell Realtors they'll be interested in buying or selling a house after the first of next year. Heck, with all the other deadlines going on, it does seem to make sense to postpone a home search or home sale until the Christmas bustle subsides before pursuing this important transaction.

Nevertheless, there are several good reasons to either sell or buy a house even at the end of the year.

Buyers

For buyers there are several positives about looking at houses during the holidays.

• There is less competition. Most buyers come out during the spring. You will be faced with a higher chance of multiple offers and therefore a possibility of a bidding war.

• The sellers offering property during the holidays are more serious. Without all the competition from other buyers, they must review each offer with the thought that it may be the only one submitted for weeks. This makes them more willing to negotiate instead of just passing one contract for the next one.

• By purchasing and settling during the holidays and before the end of the year, buyers have more tax deductions available to them for points paid either by themselves or by the seller. A point is pre-paid interest paid to the lender.

• Other real estate services are more readily available during this slower season for real estate sales. Moving companies are looking for business from November through January. With the drop in the number of homes going to settlement during the slower months, title companies aren't faced with running one settlement right after the other and you may have more flexibility of choosing a settlement date that better fits your schedule. The same is true for home inspectors and appraisers.

Sellers

• Sellers will find that buyers more serious at this time of year. If buyers are looking at houses during the holidays, more than likely they are up against a tighter deadline than their spring counterparts and may be more serious about finding a house. Of course, in today's marketplace with pressure on inventory most buyers are serious buyers.

• Sellers will also have less competition on the home-selling side as well. Since most houses come on the market in the spring, buyers have a smaller selection of homes from which to choose. But if they must make a decision, yours is one of the ones they'll have to go for.

• The holidays help sellers because holiday decorations and lights can make houses look better than they normally would during a regular selling season. In addition, if you have baking talents, the house can also smell great for the holidays.

• Every house needs a little fixing up before going on the market. If you need to hire someone for this task, it is easier to find a contractor during the holiday period than during the busier spring time. For do-it-yourselfers, lines will be shorter at hardware and building supplies stores.

• Finally, sellers can also enjoy the same benefits as buyers with ancillary services movers, title companies, appraisers which are more readily available.

The holidays can actually be an exciting time to sell or buy a house you just have to be aware of the type of market you'll be facing at the time.

From my home to yours, may this be the Merriest Christmas and Happiest New Year.

M. Anthony Carr has covered the real estate industry for 12 years. Comments and questions can be sent to him via e-mail macarr@nvar.com.

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