Many real estate agents take it slow during the holidays, not only to enjoy this time of year but also because the market cools down. This year, the market has not cooled with homes still moving fast. Agents should take advantage of the holiday selling and buying season because buyers and sellers are serious and want to move fast. Contrary to popular belief, here are 5 reasons the holidays are a smart time to buy a home.
1. Less competition from home buyers
Most buyers take the month off to celebrate the holidays, attend parties, host out-of-town guests and, quite frankly, avoid trudging around in inclement weather to look at houses. Or, maybe they’ve heard that this is a lousy time to buy a house. Whatever the reason, shopping for real estate at a time when fewer buyers are in the market can pay off big. That’s because competing with multiple offers is one of the most stressful parts of the home-buying process.
2. Motivated home sellers
The December seller is likely to be serious and motivated—and therefore more open to negotiation. So what you might lack in a choice of available homes could be balanced out by dealing with a more flexible seller.
Most sellers have a compelling reason for putting their house on the market during the holidays. (Let’s face it: It’s no holiday party for them to have strangers wandering through their house.) They might be facing a relocation and want to get their kids settled before the new term. Or they might just be feeling some stress if they listed their home in the fall and it’s still languishing post–Turkey Day, making them just a little more desperate and anxious to deal.
Many sellers might also want a contract in hand for tax advantages. If it’s a rental property on which they incurred a loss, they are likely to want to take the deduction this calendar year, Wasson says.
Another tax-related reason: If sellers are likely to make a hefty profit and have a salary raise set to kick in on Jan. 1, they might be subject to a higher capital gains tax on their home sale in the coming year. In this scenario, sellers may want to unload a property before the new year.
Sellers are exempt from paying capital gains tax on the first $250,000 in proceeds from a home sale for a single person, or $500,000 for a couple. After that, the capital gains tax kicks in, based on their income bracket.
3. Tax advantages
In case you weren’t aware, the tax benefits go both ways. Buying now can help you save in April and beyond. Homeownership brings numerous tax perks, from deducting mortgage interest to property taxes. (Update: The House of Representatives just passed its version of the GOP proposed tax plan, which would cap the property tax deduction at $10,000. The House bill also would only allow homeowners to deduct the interest on mortgages up to $500,000, down from the current $1 million.)
4. A realistic picture of the house
What house doesn’t look amazing in the typical spring buying season, with newly planted flowers and plenty of sunlight streaming through the windows? Checking it out during the miserable winter season, on the other hand, might give you a more accurate idea of what you might be living with the rest of the year.
5. Greater accessibility to professionals
Since December is usually a slower month all around, you will have easier access to movers, inspectors, and mortgage brokers.
This article originally appeared on Realtor.com