File picture: Richard Vogel/AP.

If you’re one of those people who decided to avoid the holiday traffic and the crowds at the beach this summer and stay home to enjoy the attractions of your own city, you might just find that now is the best time to hunt for your dream home.

So says Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond, who has the following tips for property shopping to beat the post-festive season blues:

* Take the time to look at older listings. “Most property websites and portals will give you the option of viewing only new listings, and that’s what many prospective home buyers do during the year. But holidays provide the opportunity to delve deeper and search through listings that are a few weeks or months old. By now, the peak spring selling season has passed in most areas and sellers whose homes have been on the market for a while will generally be very happy to have you view the property and make an offer.

* Visit showhouses. One of the great things about the holiday season is that your family can look at properties for sale together, he notes. “So pay a visit to the area you like and make a point of going into the homes on show that look like they might be good options for you.

“At the very least you will get to meet local estate agents who are dynamic enough to be showing during the holidays and be able to tell them exactly what you are looking for. You can then be sure that you will be among the first to know when something suitable is listed for sale in that area.”

* Understand your own worth. Coetzee says that home owners who need to sell soon or are just tired of having their homes on the market appreciate serious buyers. “And they can work out that those who aren’t really interested will probably be off doing other things during the holiday season, while those who do come through their door at this time are very likely motivated and actually ready to make a purchase.

“As a result they should take you seriously and be more willing to negotiate both price and terms with you – especially if you have already been pre-qualified for a home loan.”

* Use the opportunity to negotiate. On the other hand, there are fewer potential buyers at this time of year, he says, so this may be your chance not only to find a great home but to buy it at a great price.

“If the home has been on the market for a while, you will be in an especially good position to negotiate if you want to offer less than asking price, for example, or ask for early occupation, or to get certain items like appliances or custom-made curtains included in the price.”

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