Attention, market timers. If you've been holding back, waiting for the perfect time to buy real estate under the most favorable conditions perhaps ever to exist in Westport or Weston, now is your moment.
The planets have aligned. A perfect storm of advantageous factors is in place for buyers this holiday season. Here's why:
1. Prices have bottomed out. With the exception of a few transactions in high-demand price segments, prices have been flat in Westport for the past few years after declining about 20 percent from the 2007 market peak. Prices in Weston, while still soft, also show signs of having reached their lowest point.
2. There are lots of properties to choose from. And inventory expands every day. Supply is greater than demand in both Westport and Weston. This, of course, exerts continued downward pressure on prices.
3. Interest rates are at historic lows. In fact, they're so low, some people are stunned. And as the mortgage brokers never fail to point out, the lower the interest rate you get, the more house you can afford to buy.
4. Mortgage money is readily available. That is, if you have a job, a down payment and a solid credit history. Although your lender may put you through the hoop before issuing a loan commitment, if you're a qualified buyer you will have nothing to worry about.
5. Sellers may be more negotiable this time of year. I see it happen every year during the fourth quarter -- sellers who've been unrealistic about their home's value, or unwilling to compromise on their price, frequently soften and respond positively to reasonable offers.
6. Properties that have been on the market for a while may represent especially good values. These are the homes that just haven't sold, despite price reduction after price reduction by serious sellers. Most of them need work, so they're not for everyone. But if you're up to the task, now is the time of year during which you just might get a bargain.
7. There are fewer buyers out looking during the holiday season. Because not as many people shop for homes this time of year, there will be less competition for the property that you fall in love with. If that house is owned by a motivated seller, you may enjoy an advantage in negotiations that you would not normally have.
8. Offer expires December 31, 2012. Come next year, hope will spring eternal in sellers' minds and, inevitably, new listings will come on the market higher than current asking prices. The cycle will begin anew, with today's favorable conditions unavailable until this time next year.
9. `Tis the season. What better holiday gift to yourself could there be than the home of your dreams in Westport or Weston?
Evi Coghlan's "The Real Deal" appears every other Friday. She is a licensed real estate agent with the Riverside Avenue office of Coldwell Banker and a former marketing consultant to Fortune 100 companies. She may be reached at 203-247-6691, by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting www.evicoghlan.com.