Things tend to slow down in the property market over Christmas, which can make it a tricky time to be selling or buying a home. But the good news is, anyone left looking at property at this time of year is likely very serious about it. That means if you know what you’re doing and are prepared to meet the challenges of wading into the property market at Christmas, there’s a chance to find a winning deal.
Mozo property expert Steve Jovcevski shared some of his top tips on how to get the best property deal over the holiday season, whether you’re buying or selling.
If you’re selling at Christmas:
Selling at this end of the year is not always ideal, mostly because there are fewer borrowers around. But the good news is, those who are looking may have already sold their house in the spring season and could be keen to get into a new place either before Christmas or first thing in the New Year.
My tips for getting a good deal on your home sale at Christmas are:
- Don’t go to auction. There won’t usually be enough demand around this time of year to drum up the interest and competition that you’re hoping for to make an auction really successful. Instead, stick to private treaty, where you can set a price you’re happy with and attract serious buyers.
- Remember that first impressions count. Stage your home with tasteful Christmas decorations and make sure to keep the interiors nice and cool so potential buyers can feel at home. Yards and gardens are another thing to consider at this time of year – summer means lawns need to be mowed, hedges trimmed and bushes wrangled to keep your property looking at its most appealing.
- Don’t cave to lowball offers. Because Christmas is not a busy time for property, borrowers will be expecting to snag a bargain – which is fine, but don’t panic and cave to an offer that’s far below what you want to get for your home. Remember, there aren’t that many buyers around, but there aren’t any sellers either, so anyone who’s serious about buying your property will come to the party with a decent offer.
- Be prepared for a longer settlement time. As we all know, everyone switches off a bit over the holidays. So while banks, solicitors and other people key to getting a sale through might be working, they’re probably running on a skeleton crew, meaning it might take longer for your buyer to get their finances in order. You can help them out by extending the usual 5 day “subject to finance” clause a bit, so they have plenty of time to contact their bank.
If you’re buying at Christmas:
The holiday period may be the perfect chance for buyers to snag a bargain. If sellers haven’t managed to make a sale during the booming spring season, they may be eager to offload their property as soon as possible – especially if they’ve already bought another home.
Here are my top tips for buyers looking over Christmas:
- Negotiate. Although putting in a really low offer might put you out of the running, even in the quiet holiday period, there’s no reason you shouldn’t haggle a bit over the price of the property you’re looking at. Put yourself in the shoes of the seller, and ask yourself what you might be willing to accept on the home.
- Don’t rush into a sale. If you’re buying because you’ve already sold your old home, you’re probably keen to get into a new one before Christmas or the New Year rolls around. That’s fair enough – but don’t rush a decision that you might be living with for the rest of your life, just for the sake of the holidays. Take your time to look through the options and find the right fit for your family and budget.
- Head to any auctions. Chances are, if a seller is going to auction at this time of year, they’re seriously ready to settle on a sale. So make sure you’ve got your deposit ready and pre-approval from your bank for a home loan, then head to auction to snap up a bargain.
- Get your finances sorted out early. Keep in mind that you might be keen to get into a new home ASAP, but the closer it gets to Christmas, the more likely it is your solicitor, home loan broker or bank staff has switched off for the holiday. That means securing your home loan financing might be slow-going. You should consider this in your planning and budgeting, and talk to the seller about a longer settlement period if need be.
Steve is a property investment expert home loan negotiator over at financial comparison website mozo.com.au. With an extensive knowledge of home loan products and property trends, Steve is full of practical tips to help investors build and get the most out of their property portfolio.