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Holiday Home Buying

By Michele Lerner

Plenty of real estate agents will tell you that the worst time to sell a home is during that stretch of time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s when everyone seems to switch their attention from business to pleasure.

But for real estate buyers, particularly investors interested in obtaining the best home at the lowest price, holiday home shopping can be a smart move.

Sellers who have placed their home on the market tend to be motivated, since few homeowners would opt for keeping a perfectly staged home available for potential buyers during the chaos of the holidays unless they had to sell the property as fast as possible. Buyers can use this motivation to their advantage, first by finding out how soon the sellers want to move and then by investigating how long the property has been on the market.

Buyers will find negotiating a little easier if they can meet terms the sellers need, such as an early settlement date or a even a rent-back while the sellers wait for a new home to be completed or a closing to take place on their next home. Work with your Realtor to find out as much as you can about the sellers and their needs before making an offer.

If the home has been on the market for a brief time, then be aware that the sellers must be truly motivated to have put their home up for sale during the holiday season rather than waiting for the traditional spring market. If the home has been languishing for sale for 30, 60, 90 days or more, again, you are likely to find motivated sellers.

Some sellers opt to take their home off the market during the holidays to relieve themselves and their families of the stress of showing the home when guests are in town or the children are home for school vacations. Even so much as they want to show the home with messing or bathrooms. But these sellers may actually be ripe for an offer even if they have temporarily opted out of the market.

Along with few other important things to look for, have your realtor check on listings that fit your budget that have recently been taken off the market. A quick phone call to the owners or to their previous agent may yield a willing seller happy to accept an unexpected offer.

Michele Lerner, a real estate expert and freelance writer with 20 years of experience, is the author of “HOMEBUYING: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time”.

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