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Buying a house at the holidays

Holiday-season homebuyers benefit from a variety of market incentives that can shift the balance of power in price negotiations temporarily in their favor.

One reason why is a significant drop in overall demand, leaving buyers with less competition for their dream house.

Valley real-estate agents are well-aware of these time-sensitive incentives and do their best to share them with their clients.

Yamile Hirsh, a real-estate agent with Phoenix-based HomeSmart since 2008, stresses that nearly every part of the homebuying process is cheaper near the holidays.

“There’s less competition, there’s exposure to more listings, even moving companies are forced to drop prices in response to the drop in demand,” she said. “On the lending side, the closing process is faster and interest rates are still amazingly low.”

Buyers moving from a rental may also be able to take advantage of a month of interest deductions that can be applied to their 2013 tax returns.

The drop in demand can be frustrating for those listing their houses and the agents representing them. But Hirsh suggests this is often lessened by the attitude of prospective buyers around the holidays.

“During the rest of the year, especially in the summer, you have a lot of looky-loos,” Hirsh said. “During the holiday season, they really want to buy a home. They’re very serious people.”

Seyoue Sims, a Realtor with Realty One Group, said the drop in end-of-year demand this year hasn’t been quite as much as in years past, primarily because of recent moves in interest rates.

“Rates are starting to climb, and people are afraid that they will continue to go higher,” he said. “That’s causing some extra motivation to get into a house now.”

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year mortgage is 4.16 percent. That’s up nearly a full percentage point from the all-time low of 3.31 percent in November 2012.

Ricardo Avalos, a project manager with Intel Corp, is Hirsh’s client. He is currently looking for houses in the south Chandler area. He’s aware of the financial benefits of buying before the end of the year, but he also has extra motivation.

“I actually bought a home 10 years ago, and we closed the day before Thanksgiving,” Avalos said. “I got to have family over for Thanksgiving the next day. It was pretty amazing and pretty hectic.

“We moved in everything the day before, and we were able to cook the turkey in the brand new stove. I’m hoping this Christmas, it will be the same way.”




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