In a giving season, home contracting companies are eager to trim prices, roll out options and proffer incentives around the holidays so that families and couples can move into residences before or soon after the new year.

The holiday deals are in some cases an extension of builders' seasonal and year-long programs championing "move-in ready" and soon-to-be-built homes. Lennar, a Florida headquartered builder with a whopping 22 communities in metro Charleston, is a case in point.

Amy Dooley, marketing manager, says Lennar "always has a good bit of homes ready." The company counts 50 houses that shoppers can purchase now within all its neighborhoods. "We've got communities in every suburb. You go from Mount Pleasant to Goose Creek (and elsewhere for houses) to choose from," she says.

The builder also offers homes that aren't finished but in the works. "If you're not looking to close so quickly, we have great incentives on 'to be built homes.'" In these cases, buyers can wrap up sales by early 2019, Dooley points out.

Quick move-in homes, which are available within weeks using Lennar's in-house mortgage company, showcase incentives such as "a major discount" of $20,000 off the purchase price, she says. Shoppers willing to wait until the first part of next year can land a "buy one, get one" deal in which anyone purchasing a home receives $20,000 worth of options or design upgrades.

The holiday sales program works, Dooley notes. "Oh yeah, absolutely. It's a great time," she says. The company sales staff has been "busy."

Virginia-based Stanley Martin Homes, meanwhile, is promoting special "design center" incentives and up to $3,000 in closing cost assistance at its seven Charleston area neighborhoods: Carolina Park, Estuary, Freeman's Point, Mixson, Oldfield, Stonoview and Summers Corner.

"Hitting the road for the holidays? Next year, bring the family to you," Stanley Martin notes in a promotional e-mail blitz. "Play host in a gorgeous new home with more than enough space to accommodate your season of celebration."

According to the notices, Stanley Martin "believes in designing homes that make gatherings special. If you need more space or it's just time to upgrade, we've got beautiful home designs to ensure visitors and out-of-town guests feel right at home. Make 2019 the year for new memories in your brand new Stanley Martin home."

For shoppers, December's considered the best closing date, according to a new analysis from California-based ATTOM Data Solutions.

Buyers scheduled to finalize their home sale on Dec. 26 saved $2,500, or 1.3 percent below full market value, the real estate information group notes. ATTOM Data Solutions says the discount "by many measures, is enough to finance get-togethers and gift-giving over the holidays, if not appliances or a remodeling project."

Along with the day after Christmas, six more of the 10 best days to buy a home are in December, according to the online analytical company. "January and February are prime for savings, too, aligning with the housing market's seasonal slowdown, typically, in winter," the company says.

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As with holiday shopping, the key is to start sooner, ATTOM Data Solutions notes.

"People closing on a home purchase Dec. 26 were submitting offers around Thanksgiving and starting their home search around Halloween — likely not a common path to home purchase for most buyers, and exactly why it's the best time to buy," says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president. "Buyers and investors willing to start their home search right about when stores are setting up Christmas decorations will face less competition and likely be dealing with more motivated sellers, giving them the upper hand in price negotiations."

Dooley, with Lennar, notes that it's still not too late to select, sign paperwork and move into a home by Dec. 31. "Get it while it's hot," she says.

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