November 10, 2011 | by Valerie Blake
Buying during the bustle

The holidays may seem like a crazy time to sell a house, but there are some advantages.

For years we’ve been told about the Top 10.

Radio jocks give us the Top 10 Popular Songs, Money Magazine gives us the Top 10 Best Places to Retire, financial experts give us the Top 10 Best Master Card or Visa rates and Johnny Carson was the master with a Top 10 for everything. But, hey, since this article is being published on 11-11-11, I thought I’d go the extra mile.

This is the time of year when potential sellers start to ask me whether it’s a good idea to put their homes on the market now or wait until springtime (which in our local real estate world is actually late January or early February). Like anything in real estate, the short answer is, “It depends.”

I love selling real estate during the holidays. I’ve shown houses at half-time on Thanksgiving Day. I’ve written offers on Christmas Eve. I’ve attended settlements just before the ball dropped for the new year. So before you go into real estate hibernation for the winter, consider my top 11 reasons for selling now.

No. 11 — Interest rates are still low. Who knows what financing will look like in three to six months? My crystal ball is still a bit foggy on that issue, so look for a qualified buyer now.

No. 10 — Contractors are hungry. Ever try to get a contractor to do a small repair before putting your home on the market in April? Get someone quicker and maybe even save a buck during the late fall and winter.

No. 9 — Lenders have fewer loans to process. Less work can mean faster processing and a quicker settlement. It can also mean that lenders can spend more time to work out a credit issue or explain details of a special loan program, resulting in better-prepared, pre-approved buyers.

No. 8 — Our weather doesn’t deter buyers. I have less-than-fond memories of trudging through the snow in Minneapolis on a frigid December day to find a spectacular home of my own. No snowshoes required here.

No. 7 — We can preview homes in our pajamas. Hooray for the Internet!  Sellers who have high quality photos online have the upper hand here, while buyers look through available listings at their leisure (and in their leisure attire) to find the right ones to see in person.

No. 6 — Paperwork is now available electronically. No longer do agents have to go out in the cold to deliver or review an offer and sit in the car while a buyer or seller makes a decision. Now we have high-capacity scanners and electronic signatures.

No. 5 — Your agent may have more time and attention to give.Agents can often be stretched to the max in the spring. Advice, counsel, personal attention, settlement gifts and even celebratory grog can flow more freely during the holiday season.

No. 4 — It’s the end of the (tax) year. Purchasing your home now can mean significant benefits for a buyer: tax credits from D.C. that may not be available after 2011, deductible interest and points, or simply a great investment for the future at a low interest rate. Be you buyer or seller, it’s always wise to consult your tax professional or financial planner to see when buying or selling makes the most sense for you.

No. 3 — Homes can look (and smell) more inviting during the holidays.  Tree lights and bushes and candles that twinkle; gingerbread houses and cookies with sprinkles; door fronts with wreaths or tied up with a bow: these are the things that set buyers aglow (with apologies to Julie Andrews and the von Trapp family).

No. 2 — The serious buyers are out there. People transfer in and out of the D.C. metropolitan area in hoards. Most employers don’t care much if you would rather be looking for a home or cooking a Thanksgiving turkey over the long weekend and many want you at your desk and on the job early in January.

No. 1 — There is less competition from other sellers. Guess what? Not everyone who is considering selling is reading this article.

Valerie Blake can be reached at 202-246-8602 orValerie@dchomequest.com. Prudential PenFed Realty is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial company. 

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