One of the most festive seasons of the year is approaching, Christmas, and with it the long-awaited holidays. During these holidays is a good time to buy a house because sellers are in a hurry to continue with their Christmas routine, the shopping and the decorating, and this makes negotiations go faster. In addition, the festive atmosphere can lead to a feeling of miracles being possible, and the owners accepting "impossible offers”.
Inma Vives, an expert in marketing and sales for the real estate sector, tells us several advantages of buying a home at Christmastime:
- Sellers are in a hurry to get on with their Christmas preparations and this makes negotiating the transfer of the house quicker. Even better, the Christmas magic in the air can make the sellers say yes to offers way under the asking price. Take advantage of this to try to close the deal as soon as possible.
- Consider the end-of-year tax aspects. Analyse your family's tax situation carefully and think about how the purchase of the house affects your income tax return and how the result will vary if you buy at the end of one year or at the beginning of the next.
- There are fewer people buying and you will be able to get better prices. The market stops for a few weeks over Christmas and this puts pressure on the sellers who want to sell urgently to lower the price of their properties. In the new year, house prices will rise again. Visit those properties that are falling in price and propose your price with the condition that you sign the contract before the end of the year.
- You can have a few days of vacation at work and dedicate them to the formalities and admin work that you will have to do as soon as you decide to buy. Use those holiday days that you have saved up for Christmas to do all the paperwork with banks, official bodies, setting up utility services in the new house and a thousand little details that will come up that you didn’t expect.
- If you manage to get served in the bank, by notaries and so on, there will be no waiting list to sign on those days. Just let them know as soon as possible of your intention to sign everything before the end of the year so they can get organised, because there are procedures that depend on other professionals and business.
- If the bank hasn’t yet met its goals for the year, they will be in a hurry to sign your mortgage before the end of the year and this is great for you. They'll give you the red-carpet treatment and you'll get the best conditions. If you have a choice, visit several banks and take the best offer.
If you have already decided to continue the search for your home over the Christmas period, you are should consider a few issues:
- Have all the documentation you already know you will be asked for ready and up to date. If you have to do anything to update your papers, you won't be able to do it until after the holidays.
- Be ready at the drop of a hat if you want to revisit the house or any other matter that requires third parties. Remember that others may have extra commitments and will have to make compromises to fit you in.
- You'll need to be a bit flexible when it comes to appointments and times, both with the salespeople and the other professionals you'll inevitably have to meet. They will also be enjoying parties and family time and may have unavoidable commitments.
- Prepare your move ahead of time so you are fully installed in your new home in the new year.
- If you need to register the gas, water and electricity supplies in your new home, it may take more time than usual for everything to start working properly, which can delay the whole process. Keep this in mind when organising everything else, as without power there are some things you just can’t sort out in your new house.
- Consider the fact that there are things you can only do after the holidays are over, such as looking for childcare for your smallest children or changing schools for the older ones.
- Even if you want to finish the property transaction as soon as possible, don't let the rush fool you into making rash decisions. Check that everything in your new home is working properly because if you don't, you run the risk of starting off the new year on a very bad foot.
- If one of the things you plan to take into account when deciding on your purchase is the feel of the neighbourhood where the new house is located, remember that at Christmas the streets are totally transformed. It's possible that January will give you a reality check about the area that you weren’t expecting.
With all this in mind, you're now ready to put on some winter shoes and warm clothes and take to the streets to find the house where you want to wake up next year.
You'll be lucky in that not many people will be doing the same, so you'll be able to control the market. However, you will have much less control over the rest of the process as you’ll have to depend on people and institutions that may shut down or go slowly over Christmas, and this can have a knock-on effect on your property purchase.
In any case, get into the Christmas spirit and look on the bright side. Do your own style of Christmas shopping and adapt to the rhythm of the holidays.
"Finally, remember to enjoy it,” says Inma Vives. “Christmas is a magical time of year and buying a home is one of life's most beautiful moments. Live it as a positive experience, remember to keep the drawbacks in perspective, and chalk up viewings of potential properties as if they were a visit to the fair or Christmas market. If in the end you find your ideal home, you’ll be happy you did it all at this time of year, if even you don't, you will still have combed the market in your area and have enjoyed a Christmas with minimum expenditure."