While you may think it's crazy to tackle the huge task of homebuying during the schedule-jammed holiday season, the holidays are actually a great time to find real estate deals in today's new economy.
"This year in particular may be different than other years," says Beth Tyler, a broker with Long & Foster Real Estate in Annapolis, Md., who says the economy has boosted many sellers' motivation to sell.
"Interest rates are at an all-time low, prices are greatly depressed and inventory is plentiful," says Nick Burrafato, broker/owner of Florida HomeGallery Real Estate in Orlando, Fla.
"The holiday season is a particularly good time for first-time homebuyers to find a home," says Rich Hayden, senior loan officer for HomeFirst Mortgage Corp. in Alexandria, Va. "But get prequalified with a mortgage broker or lender early. The typical turnaround to close a home is 30 (to) 60 days, so it's best to get started right away."
"The housing market appears to have reached a floor through the June to September period," says Steve Murray, editor of REAL Trends, a real estate industry publication.
"December home sales usually make up about 8.1 percent of total annual home sales," he says. The peak months are May, June, July and August -- each nearly 11 percent of annual home sales. The only months lower than December are November, January and February.
Here are five reasons the 2009 holiday season promises to be filled with better-than-usual home bargains: