Tis the season to be jolly - and out hunting for housing bargains.

This time of the year drives me crazy. Trying to get everything done before Christmas. Organising things so it's possible to have a holiday. Buying presents for everyone and all this eating and drinking.

But one thing that is worth trying to squeeze is a bit of house hunting.

It's not because there is all this talk about the housing market.


Indeed, I don't have a crystal ball to make predictions of where house prices and rents will go. What I do, though, is try to understand how the housing market works and what economic drivers are likely to impact on it.

There are lots of factors and each market is different. For instance, the Auckland market is full of individual markets - different to, say, a provincial town like Rotorua.

Overall, the housing market is looking positive.

Why go house-hunting now?

Well, lots of people are too busy doing all these other pre-Christmas and holiday things so there are fewer buyers in the market.

On the other side there are people who for whatever reason, be it health, finance or something else, feel compelled do a deal.

If these people are willing sellers then there is no reason not to be a willing buyer.

Instead of racing out to Boxing Day specials and blowing money on things that often aren't really necessary, why not think of buying a house.

I know one property investor who bought a rental the other day for $105,000. The deposit was around $10,000. The property had a good tenant paying around $240 a week in rent and the interest rate was around 5 per cent.

The property pays for itself and was bought below valuation.

That's a pretty nice present. But a little too big to gift wrap and put under the Christmas tree.

Philip Macalister is the publisher of NZ Property Investor Magazine and www.landlords.co.nz