There's no place like home for the holidays -- and that's doubly true if you're looking to buy a home right now!

After being flat on its back, the housing market has come roaring back to life with a nice rise in home prices across much of the country. In some of the most desired zip codes in many cities, we're actually back to bidding wars. Houses are selling at or above their asking price. Homes are going "contract pending" within hours of listing.

Some people are worried this is next housing bubble. I don't share that fear. But I agree the action out there has been extreme. So heed these words: If you're looking to buy, I don't want you to sit out the holiday season.

In hot zip codes, there are far more buyers than sellers. Yet the buyers evaporate from now through about the first week or two of January. Buyers get into holiday mode and give their house hunt a break. That means sellers who are stuck with their homes may lower the asking price over the next roughly 7 weeks if you're still shopping.

So if you are an interested buyer, this could be an opportunity for you in a market that feels like it might be stretching out of your price range.

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What's the best time of year to list your home?

I know this flies in the face of what I just said, but the holidays are also a great time to list your home for sale!

People often think of listing a home sometime during April, May, or June. The idea is that listing in the spring during prime selling season will get you the highest price. Yet syndicated financial writer Kenneth Harney says that's actually not true. In city after city, starting a new listing in winter will actually get you a higher amount of money for the sale of your home on average. Every home is different, of course.

The reason is that home prices actually peak in late winter/early spring when the least number of properties are on the market, but people are already out looking. So you'll make more money by avoiding the common wisdom!

On the other hand, older listings that have sat on the market can be a real deal for buyers once they hit Nov. 1. That's because sellers tend to capitulate particularly if they're still on the market around the holidays. They become 'motivated sellers' in the terminology of the industry.

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Want more money-saving advice for your home? See our Homes & Real Estate section.