’Tis the season to be jolly, to deck the halls and to buy presents for family and friends. But, did you know the holidays are also considered by some experts to be a good time to buy or sell a home?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, which pegs summertime as prime-time home hunting season, buying during the off-season has its advantages. For starters, there aren’t as many people in the market this time of year due to social and family commitments, which also means there’s less competition. Additionally, interest rates remain low, and if you close on your home before the end of the year, you can deduct any mortgage interest and closing costs on your taxes.

Trying to sell your present home?  There are some distinct benefits to listing a house during the holidays, too, experts say.

Financial specialist, author and syndicated call-in radio show host Dave Ramsey says holiday home-sellers actually are in a favorable position to sell their homes faster and for more money by taking advantage of the unique characteristics of the season.  He says buyers who are in the market during the holidays are serious. Do whatever it takes to court them, including being flexible about showing times, making sure your home is priced to sell and keeping it in “show” condtion at all times.

Other experts advise exercising caution when showing homes that are all decked out in their holiday finery. Be careful not to block or cover up important selling features, such as fireplace mantels and stairs. Other staging tips include:

Stack wrapped presents in a closet or in one corner to avoid the impression of clutter

Never leave candles burning unattended

Set a plate of cookies on the counter, next to holiday-themed paper napkins for guests

Simmer spicy apple cider on the stove and set out cups and a ladle.

Home buying and selling during the “most wonderful time of the year” – also known as one of the most hectic and stressful times of the year, for some people – obviously isn’t for everyone. But, with cooler temperatures and a festive note of expectancy in the air, who knows? It just might be the perfect opportunity for Santa to slip a new set of house keys into your stocking.

(Editor’s Note: Andy Warren is President of Maracay Homes, the Arizona subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona and Greater Phoenix Leadership; as well as the Board of Directors and as an Executive Committee member with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute.)

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