If you've been waiting to buy a home, now might be a good time to do it

DENVER – As you shop for gifts for loved ones this holiday season, there’s something else you might consider buying: A new home.

Winter tends to be one of the best times of year to buy a home as the real estate market cools down and prices drop somewhat.

The median sale price of homes in metro Denver dipped slightly to $375,000 in November, down from a high of nearly $390,000 in June, and that downward trend will likely continue going into the new year.

MORE: Denver-area home prices drop slightly in November

That’s pretty typical, according to Libby Levinson, a Denver-area Realtor and a member of the Denver Metro Association of Realtors’ Market Trends Committee. Levinson said buying and selling alike aren’t often on people’s minds during the winter months, and that affects the real estate market.

“A lot of people take their homes off the market for the holidays,” Levinson said. “It’s also colder and I think that people aren’t as excited about going out and trudging through the snow looking at properties.”

Toward the end of the year, buyers whose homes have been on the market for a while may be motivated to drop their prices so they can get their home sold and start fresh in the new year. In addition, builders and developers are sometimes looking to clear out their inventory.

Another factor that can make December a good time to buy is the holiday or year-end work bonus. If you’ve been thinking about buying for a while but have been hesitant to make the plunge, having some extra cash to put toward a down payment can certainly help.

As home prices drop, though, so too does inventory. The number of active listings dipped in November to a new record low of 5,131 for the month, meaning buyers have fewer homes than usual to choose from. Inventory also will likely continue to plummet heading into the new year, but Levinson said that shouldn’t discourage prospective buyers.

“Inventory is low but you’re competing against fewer buyers,” she said. The bidding wars that have become commonplace in the Denver market during the peak season aren’t as much of an issue in the winter, since fewer people are looking to buy.

So while you might not have as many options, your chances of making a successful bid on a property are higher right now.

“It’s been significantly easier to get into a house” in recent weeks, Levinson said. “It’s a great time of year to buy.”

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