When you think about “shopping” in December, it’s normally in retail stores, not the Boston North Shore home buying market.  However, the month of December could be a great time to shop for a new home. This may be especially true for potential buyers who may have been outbid during the more active home buying months.

The month of December could be a great time to enter the Boston North Shore home buying maze.

A Good Boston North Shore Home Buying Month

While the majority of home sales occur during the spring and summer, there are definitely advantages to consider the so-called “off-season” of the real estate market.

A compelling reason to make any purchase is value. For sellers just listing their homes or for those whose homes have been for sale for awhile, fewer prospects mean lower offers. That represents a wonderful opportunity for bargain shoppers looking now rather than in peak months.

Real estate experts say a home’s selling price may fluctuate during the course of the year by 5-7%. Many of the price variations are predictable. A home generally will be priced higher in the spring and summer than in the winter.

According to RealtyTrac, a publisher of real estate market data, the best bargains are usually found in October, with average sales prices around 2.6% below normal. Other experts say December is the best month to get more bang for your buck. Much of the rationale has to do with the seller’s mood, likely to be happier and more generous during the holidays.

Let’s examine five reasons to shop for a home in December.

The competition is limited. Most people are busy with the hustle and bustle of the holidays and aren’t active in the market then. Fewer potential buyers means less competition and greater opportunity for a savvy buyer.

There are tax benefits. If you’re in the market not only for a house, but also for some year end tax deductions, December could be a good month. Purchase and close your home prior to the end of the year and you can deduct the mortgage interest paid, any loan points paid and your pro-rata share of the property taxes from your 2015 income tax return.

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Motivated –– even desperate –– sellers. As mentioned above, sellers often are willing to take the best offer they can if their home has languished on the market. They could be especially motivated if they have a contract on another home contingent on the sale of their existing house. In the case of job relocation, the sellers may have to move before the first of the calendar year and may be desperate to sell.

See homes in their “natural light.” Shopping for a home in December gives buyers a chance to see homes in their natural state –– without “make-up,” so to speak. When trees have lost their leaves, grass is dormant and flowers aren’t in bloom buyers can get a better idea of the home’s features and uniqueness. In addition, it’s a good idea to check out things like drafty, cold areas in the home. They could be signs of faulty insulation or window or door seals needing replacement.

Interest rates are still very low. Despite recent rumblings that interest rates may edge upward slightly, today’s mortgage rates are very affordable. And that’s good news for anybody entering the Boston North Shore home buying market during December.

Happy holidays… and happy home shopping!