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Buying in December

As a rule, December is a slow month for home sales. A week or two before Thanksgiving, most buyers switch their attention from houses to holidays and family gatherings, and those buyers don't get back onto the home-buying track until around Super Bowl Sunday in late January.

Here are two reasons that may help you decide to buck the trend:

  • Bargain hunting: When the other buyers drop out of the market, you're the only game in town for stubborn sellers who foolishly waited too long to get realistic about their asking price. If they must sell, sellers instruct their agents to put the word out that they're willing to deal. The magic phrase is, "Bring us an offer." If you're a lowballer looking for a deal, now's the time to make your move.
  • Tax deductions: What you get doesn't matter -- what does matter is what you get to keep. Buying a home in December gives you tax deductions that you can use to reduce your federal and state income taxes in that calendar year. Owning a home gives you physical shelter and tax shelter. On your income taxes, you can, for example, write off your loan origination fee (points), mortgage interest, and property taxes that you pay prior to December 31.