5 Reasons to Shop for a Home in December

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Buy a home in December, and you might save 5 to 7 percent. Find out why this can be the best time of year to make a purchase.

It’s counterintuitive, but December can be an excellent time to find a home. That’s particularly true for buyers sick of losing out to others in the busier homebuying months.

Federal Reserve data show that most home sales take place in June, July and August. If summer is the peak, winter is the bottom of the yearly real-estate market. It is unquestionably less pleasant to shop for homes when the weather’s bad, roads are treacherous and darkness prevails.

But if you are savvy — and willing to brave the elements — shopping in the low season might get you into a home for less money than you’d spend in May. Chances are excellent you’ll be able to buy at a discount compared with prices in peak home-shopping months.

A home’s selling price typically varies throughout the course of the year by 5 to 7 percent on average, says The Atlantic. These fluctuations, “as erratic as they seem, actually occur very predictably: The cost of a home is higher in the summer than in the winter,” The Atlantic says.

RealtyTrac, a publisher of real-estate data, combed through 15 years of statistics and found that the best bargains are found in October — specifically, on Oct. 8. The typical sale price then was 2.6 percent below average, a savings of $10,400 on a $400,000 home.

But good deals are still available in December, when everyone — including sellers — is likely to be in a jollier, more-generous mood. Here are five reasons why December can be a magic month for bargain-hunting home-shoppers:

1. Limited competition

In December, there’s no competition to speak of. Other (saner?) buyers are at home, gathered around the Christmas tree, opening gifts and preparing a big dinner.

One worry: You might have trouble finding an agent who’ll write up your offer. But if you don’t wait until the last minute to find a Realtor, you should be fine. As the Wall Street Journal reported last year, some real estate agents are only too happy to work during the holidays.

2. Tax benefits

Looking for some end-of-year tax deductions? If you close your home purchase before the end of the year, you can deduct certain costs from your 2016 tax return. They include:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Loan points
  • Property taxes

Remember, mortgage interest costs tend to be especially high in the early years of a home loan. So, this could be a nice last-minute tax break for your family.

3. Desperate sellers

With the holidays looming and a new tax year nearly upon them, sellers who put their homes on the market in December might be especially motivated to close the deal and start the new year fresh.

People can be forced to sell in December for several reasons. They include:

  • A death in the family
  • Financial pressure
  • Job relocations

If you’re a buyer, that urgency to sell can put money in your pocket. Tim Deihl, associate broker at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston, told Bankrate:

“A seller who’s looking to move a piece of real estate during the holidays is a seller who needs to sell, because nobody in their right mind would pick that as the most convenient time to list their property.”

Do you feel guilty about taking advantage of someone who has to sell? Remember, ultimately you are doing the seller a huge favor by taking the property off his or her hands.

4. You get a realistic look at properties

Winter home-shopping allows a chance to see real-estate properties in a clearer light. With flowers gone and curb appeal at a minimum, shoppers can more easily focus on the permanent features of the home.

As you tour a property, pay attention to things such as:

  • How well the home is insulated.
  • Whether you feel cold drafts.
  • Whether the window seals seem tight.
  • How well the furnace is working.

Another advantage to winter shopping is that your inspector will get a good look at the home while it is under the stress of lower temperatures, winds, snow and rain.

5. Rates still are low

Mortgage rates are not as low as they were last year, but they still remain attractive compared with historical norms. For example, the interest rate on the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is just 4.03 percent, according to Nov. 23 weekly data from FreddieMac.

However, rates have been on the upswing lately. For example, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged just 3.57 percent a couple of weeks ago. Rates fluctuate, of course, but the large recent rise is a reminder that low rates might not last forever.

The downside: selection

The bummer about winter house hunting is that, even if you are not the type of shopper who needs to try on 20 pairs of shoes before making a purchase, you probably will be frustrated by the thin selection of properties on the market.

The odds aren’t great that you’ll find the home you envisioned. But house-hunting is like that anyway. Unless you’re building a custom home or buying a new home from a builder who offers you the chance to make pre-construction choices, you’ll always face compromises.

For more homebuying tips, check out “20 Tips for Buying a Home in the Best Location, Location, Location.”

What’s your experience with real estate shopping in different seasons? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 8 Ways to Get Your FICO Score for Free

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,005 more deals!