It’s December. The weather outside is frightful but the fire in your superbly modern limestone fireplace is so delightful. Your eye rests on the Christmas tree, lavishly decked out by your decorator. You murmur, “How lovely are thy branches. Your boughs so green in summertime.” Uh oh. Summertime. That brings you out of your reverie. You promised the old ball-and-chain you’d seriously look into buying a place in the Hamptons for next year, and you haven’t done anything about it yet.
Don’t put down that prosecco yet, Prospective Homebuyer! While traditionally the holidays are considered a bad time to buy or sell real estate, everything is changing now.
In fact, according to a new national survey released by a real estate data firm, the best days of the year to buy a home are all in December. December 26 as a closing date, according to the data, is the day where the best discounts can be had. (The survey included more than 23 million single-family home and condo sales over the past six years.) Other great days to close include December 4 and December 31.
“Closing on a home purchase the day after Christmas or on New Year’s Eve can be one of the most financially beneficial holiday-season gifts you can get,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. “While lots of folks are shopping the day-after Christmas sales or getting ready to ring in the New Year, our data shows that buyers and investors are buying homes on those days at a discount. That’s a far cry from buying during June, when they are likely paying about a seven-percent premium.”
But — as we all know — the Hamptons market follows its own trends. To find out more, we asked several prominent agents about buying (and selling) during the holidays.
“People who are looking around Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, are usually a more serious type of buyer,” said Patrick McLaughlin of Douglas Elliman. “It’s a busy time of year, so the last thing they probably want to do is waste their free time meandering around open houses. If a house is on the market in winter and it’s getting traffic, chances are you’re seeing serious buyers that are ready to pull the trigger. Also, thanks to seasonal decorations, it’s a great time to really up the ‘comfy and livable’ qualities of your home.”
Aimee Martin, an agent with Saunders, agrees that people looking during the holidays are more committed to buying. “Motivated sellers who price their homes to sell have a good opportunity to attract more serious buyers during the holidays when the inventory is less plentiful and there’s less competition,” she said. “A home tastefully decorated for the holidays with a fire in the fireplace and cookies in the oven adds to an appealing and cozy ambiance for buyers to see.”
And in a second home market, it’s nice to have your buyer worry about the place during January through March. “It’s an excellent time to buy. The smaller pool of buyers, and people looking this time of year, make sellers perhaps more negotiable,” said Gary DePersia of Corcoran. “Many sellers don’t want to hold the properties over the leaner cold months, waiting for buyers to resurface in February or March, so are keen to make a deal and perhaps close early the following year, which could serve them tax-wise as well.”
McLaughlin added that the smaller pool helps buyers, too. “This helps give your potential offers more weight, as many homeowners don’t want to hold onto their home in the spring and deal with all the future costs and effort of clean-up and maintenance. Plus, in a market like the Hamptons, the houses are empty, so it’s easier for most brokers and agents to get viewing appointments. And, of course, there’s less traffic. You get a lot more viewing done this time of year!”
Martin added, “For buyers, the holidays provide an opportunity to find some good deals when a motivated seller wants to close for tax purposes or personal reasons. Also, buying during the holidays provides an opportunity for a buyer to do necessary repairs or upgrades so the house is ready for them to enjoy by Memorial Day.”
Of course, while the interior of a house decorated for the holidays may be cozy and inviting, the grounds aren’t at their best, points out DePersia. “The grounds and pool area will not show their best as they would earlier in the year.” If you’re thinking of selling, try to have a few photos taken when the garden is in bloom and the pool is open.
Relax, Prospective Homebuyer! Don your gay apparel and start scrolling listings on your phone. This is a good time to buy, after all.