What a wonderful time of year! The air is crisp. Sunsets are gorgeous. Friends gather to celebrate the holidays. And the election is over.
It is my favorite time of year for an evening stroll through my neighborhood adjacent to Interstate 10. This season, one particular sign repeatedly catches my eye: a red speech balloon that screams “GREAT TIME TO BUY!” I asked the listing agent Casey Owens of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate to tell me why winter—often considered the slow season for the real estate market—is a great time to buy and sell real estate.
The answer bubbles forth from Casey so quickly that I can hardly keep up with the list of reasons. As a precursor to conversation, we laughingly promise not to talk politics. But, neither of us can deny that post-election predictions of lending de-regulation and mortgage interest rate changes affect our local market. While mortgage home rates have increased a bit post-election, rates remain remarkably low.
Casey points out an advantage that I often take for granted: the homestead tax exemption. A buyer who purchases her home before January 1, 2017, and makes it her primary residence can qualify for the homestead tax exemption in 2017. The benefit ultimately can exclude up to $50,000 of taxable value and result in a substantially lower real estate tax bill.
And, I am reminded that, while some buyers will wait for the new year to make an offer to purchase, many will have personal income tax refunds available as early as January to help them pay earnest money deposits and closing costs. So, sellers contemplating listing their homes for sale have plenty of reasons to take advantage this great time to buy and sell real estate.
My friend Matt Southard of Eagle Realty Professionals, Inc., in Crestview, also explains, “Generally with low inventory on the market during the winter months, a listing properly positioned will gain more attention. And, on the buying side, seller motivations to negotiate with buyers increase due to the lack of traffic during winter months.”
So, what are you waiting for? Whether you are buying or selling, enlist the help of a knowledgeable team of real estate professionals including a licensed, Florida realtor.
For more information about Florida’s homestead tax exemption, visit the Okaloosa County Property Appraiser’s website: okaloosapa.com. And, if you need to apply, do not forget to file your application by the March 1 deadline.
Finally, happy holidays and sincere wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2017.