Today is the biggest shopping day of the year, and almost everyone will be filling malls and stores to hunt down Black Friday deals. Not so many, though, are shopping for homes this time of year, and prospective homebuyers who don't have their head in the game during the holidays could be missing out on some serious real estate steals.
Of course, the question is: Is there such a thing as a Black Friday for real estate? Well, not officially, but many sellers and Realtors have found a way to capitalize on the Black Friday phenomenon -- and the spirit of holiday sales in general -- to offer serious incentives to homebuyers. And you won't believe some of the things you could score with your home purchase.
"Sellers will be a little more aggressive with price drops," said Sunny Banka, a Denver-area Realtor with Metro Brokers.
Related: Looking for a Black Friday deal? Search AOL Real Estate's listings
She said that over the holidays, it's typical to see some sellers drop the asking prices on their homes by $2,000 to $10,000. That's because, since homebuyer traffic is so low in winter, it's usually only the very serious sellers that keep their homes on the market over the holidays. And they're so serious that they're willing to go the extra mile -- including lowering their asks -- to sell their homes, Banka added.
In a recent Realtor.com survey, 67.7 percent of Realtors who responded said that they perceived Black Friday sellers to be serious to very serious about selling their homes; 40.1 percent of respondents said that those sellers would likely accept an offer during that time. That may be a sign that buyers have some serious bargaining power.
"This is a great time to be looking," Banka said.
There are also some extra goodies you could score with your holiday home purchase. It's not terribly uncommon for sellers to throw in bonus items with the purchase of a home -- to entice buyers. Some of them can be big-ticket items (a pre-paid $1,000 bar tab, perhaps?).
Banka said that she has seen cases in which sellers include washers/dryers and refrigerators with a home purchase. But it only gets crazier from there. She recalled one seller throwing in a car, and others have handed over big-screen TVs at no extra cost. But the one that takes the cake, she said, was a seller who offered a weekend time-share for ski trips.
Throwing in extras with a home purchase isn't a practice that's exclusive to the holiday season, but the gift-giving spirit likely holds more sway for buyers during this time.
Banka warned, though, that getting "gifts" as part of a home purchase is tricky: Lenders often look down on such freebies when it comes to their underwriting guidelines.
Still, Sean Schellsmidt, a RE/MAX agent who sells homes with his wife, Blanca, in Minnesota, tempts holiday homebuyers with all kinds of extras. (Separately, he owns an electronics company which carries most brands, and he offers a customized electronics package to buyers who purchase one of his homes -- at deep discounts.) Recently, he's been giving away a Sonos music system and a Samsung tablet for free with the purchase of a home that costs at least $200,000. (A couple of his clients are pictured above using a tablet.) But it can get way more elaborate than that.
For his last client who bought a house, Schellsmidt threw in a complete home theater package -- surround sound speakers, TV wall mount, high-quality receiver, cables and Blu-Ray DVD player (installation of all items included) -- for $1,200 less than the going retail rates.
Even though that would excite any buyer, "the value is not that I give away a bunch of stuff," Schellsmidt said. "The value is that I make buyers excited about my listings."
There are other less obvious ways that homebuyers could save money on a Black Friday home purchase. As online listing site Trulia notes, snapping up homes at a "holiday discount" price translates into lower property taxes, which are often determined by the amount you pay to buy the home. Also, lenders may be willing to offer a discount on closing costs, and some sellers might splurge and offer to cover some or all of the buyer's fees.
It's clear that some serious Black Friday deals can be had on real estate purchases, so if you're in the marker for a home right now, you might want to skip the mall and go to an open house.
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