Buying a Home at the End of the Year Can Really Pay Off (in Actual Dollars) — Here’s How

By Megan Johnson

 

‘Tis the season to be house hunting. Yep, you heard us right; if you’re looking to score a deal on your dream home, the end of the year is a great time to do it.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Who would want to trek to open houses in 20-degree weather when you could be curled up by the fireplace at home?” And the answer would be: People who really, really want to get a good deal. So come out from under the blankets and pull on your boots, because the deals are waiting… if you want them badly enough.

Competition is Way Less Fierce

The most obvious, and most significant reason why you should house hunt at the end of the year is simple: fewer people are doing it. It’s much easier to sell a home during the warmer weather, when sprawling lawns and sparkling swimming pools attract buyers left and right. But when that disappears during the early winter, so do a lot of the prospective buyers.

“To put it in perspective, turn-key Metrowest Boston homes were getting 30 offers last Spring in the first few days on market,” says Ann Cohen, of Keller Williams Realty Boston-Metro. “Now, [in November] similar homes are getting 10 to 12 offers.”

Less competition means that from the open house to the offer table, you’re getting more attention as a buyer. “While other people are hitting shopping malls, Christmas tree lots and office parties in December, you’re heading to open houses,” says Ed Deveau of Century 21 Mario Real Estate. “If you’re in a position to make a strong offer, I guarantee a seller will take it seriously,” he adds. “They don’t want to wait until April for another one to come in.”

Everyone’s Itching for Tax-imum Benefits

Circle, underline, and highlight it: TAXES. Buying at the end of the year can be a huge opportunity for buyers, since sellers really want to sell their property for income tax purposes. “The seller can maximize deductions and possibly take losses to set off their income,” says Real Estate Attorney Felicia B. Watson. “This is a huge opportunity for buyers, since now the seller is more anxious to sell and will be more willing to negotiate, thereby placing the buyer in a better bargaining position.”

Sellers Have One Foot Out the Door

Whether it’s empty nesters looking to head south before the dead of winter, or a new job that starts January 1, properties on the market at the end of the year scream “take me!” “The homes still on the market have sellers that usually need to sell for a reason,” says Sarah Maguire of Compass Real Estate in Boston. “This usually means the sellers are in process or have already bought something else.”