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Making a wintertime home purchase? Use this guide to help you make the best decision

Making a wintertime home purchase? Use this guide to help you make the best decision

Most people view the holiday season as a time to go back home to their loved ones, not buy a brand new one. Residential real-estate also isn't at the top of many gift wish lists, so winter's chilly temperatures tend to coincide with a cooling off period for the housing market.

But as with any market, a decrease in demand provides buyers with opportunities to cut a great deal. Here are a few tips for taking advantage of the real estate's down period when making a wintertime home purchase.

Exploit the lack of competition

Although there is less available inventory during the winter, there are also likely to be far fewer buyers competing with you for any given house. If you brave the elements to attend open houses and trudge through snow to check out new listings, you'll have a distinct advantage over those who are out doing more traditional holiday shopping.

And because you have fewer bidders to contend with, you can negotiate with confidence that you have the upper hand. Lowballing a seller too aggressively can always backfire, but offering around 90 percent of the asking price could work with sellers who aren't entertaining a ton of other offers during the winter.

Give real estate agents and inspectors something to do

The real estate industry's off-season means that even the most in-demand real estate agents will likely have some more room in their schedule. In an article for Forbes, Zillow subsidiary Trulia notes that many agents work on commission, meaning they're especially eager for a sale during the winter months and likely to provide better, more engaged service.

The same holds true for inspectors and appraisers, who tend to have more free time during this lull period. It's generally advisable to get the home you want to buy appraised and inspected as soon as possible, and wintertime trends should enable you to move through those processes with relative speed and ease.

Remember to be flexible

Flexibility is an essential characteristic of any good house hunter, but it's even more vital during the winter months, according to With the constant threat of bad weather hanging over the winter months, buyers should be open to rescheduling viewings, even if it means planning them during the heart of the holidays.

Buyers should also extend that flexibility to sellers, who are likely dealing with their own seasonal stresses. If a family wants to sell their house in the winter, but still spend one last Christmas or New Year's there before moving, it can pay off to get into the giving spirit and grant their request.

And if you need some financial assistance that you don't think even Santa will be able to provide, contact The Federal Savings Bank to begin the mortgage preapproval process.