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More Homes, Lower Interest Rates May Boost Buyers This Winter


boston.com | November 28, 2014 

By Scott Van Voorhis

On the hunt for a house and looking for a steal as 2014 comes to a close? You may be in luck this holiday season.

The combination of a rising number of homes on the market with low interest rates heading even lower will boost buyers looking for deals in Greater Boston, notes Alex Coon, market manager for brokerage firm Redfin’s Boston office.

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas have long provided an opportunity for determined buyers to snag a bargain, as home sellers are realizing the holiday season is their last best chance before the spring to cut a deal.

But this holiday season, Boston area buyers will have a wider choice of homes than usual, with a 22 percent increase in the number of homes on the market compared to last year, according to Redfin’s latest market survey.

“I think it is a great opportunity when you have lots of properties and low rates and what is basically a buyers’ market,” Coon said. “It does create this little pocket here, particularly over the next five weeks.”

Of course, it all depends on where you are house hunting, with perpetually red hot markets like Newton and Cambridge still starved for inventory, he notes.

But outlying suburbs, whether it’s closer-in towns like Dedham and Medford or farther out burbs like Franklin or Marlborough, are likely to have more homes for sale during the holidays this year.

In some cases, the relative abundance of listings may even give buyers some leverage to negotiate a lower price, Coon said.

Mortgage rates will also provide an extra boost to buyers house hunting during the final weeks of the year.

Rates are already hovering near historic lows, with a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage now averaging 3.97 percent, down from 4.29 percent a year ago, Freddie Mac reports.

But they are likely to edge lower over the winter as lenders seek to stir demand during the quieter real estate months of late fall and winter, according to Coon.

The one wild card for both buyers and sellers as November turns into December will be the weather and whether or not the Thanksgiving Eve snow sticks around or melts away.

Once the snow starts sticking around, sales start to fall off, with both buyers and sellers losing appetite for shoveling walkways before open houses, or getting to them, Coon said.

“If the snow stays on the ground, the market goes down,” he said.


Back to November 2014 Archive

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