SAN DIEGO — Wendy Rader would have preferred to buy a home before the holiday season, but it just didn’t happen that way.

The retired teacher decided in March to sell her Pacific Beach condo because she wanted a home with a yard for her 4-year-old dog, a Maltese mix named Sparkle, and was sick of rats eating from her bird feeders.

Six weeks after her property went on the market in July, the condo had a buyer who needed to move in quickly. Rader, who hadn’t found a house yet, moved her possessions into storage and herself into a friend’s place.

But once the holiday season rolled around, Rader’s luck changed.

In November, a 3-bedroom, 1,152-square-foot Clairemont house with a nice yard went on the market. “I absolutely pounced,” she said. Rader said she is overjoyed she held out, did not pay over asking price, stayed in her price range and did not get tied up in a rental lease.

Buying around the holidays may be stressful, but real estate agents have pushed buyers to keep searching and sellers to keep doors open for years.

December and January typically have the least amount of homes on the market each year, with both months accounting for roughly 12 percent of new listings all year the past several years.

Still, analysts say there are increasingly more reasons to buy or sell during the holidays. Real estate agents say buyers can often negotiate lower prices because there is not as much competition and Realtor.com says an increase in international buyers without the same calendar (such as wealthy Chinese buyers) is one reason not to take off for vacation.

The competition is also getting more fierce, making it all the more important to keep up the search. The average San Diego County single-family home stayed on the market for just 41 days this year. Last year it was 47 days. In 2013, 50 days. And in 2012, 76 days.

Most homes sold during the holiday don’t close escrow until January and February, which make up the two slowest months of the year. January is always the most sluggish, making up just 6 percent or less of yearly sales for the last four years, CoreLogic data shows.

The majority of homes are sold in late spring and early summer, with 9.5 percent to 10.5 percent of sales closing in June the last four years. In 2014, 3,698 homes closed escrow in June, whereas 2,338 closed in January.

Chris Anderson, president of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors, said she pushes homeowners to sell during the holidays because it benefits both sides. Also, she said houses always look nicer because they are gussied up for the holidays.

“From a buyer’s standpoint, they will be able to go in and negotiate a little more because it is very rare (sellers) get an offer this time of year,” she said. “Sellers are more willing to give a little bit more.”

Taking out a mortgage, changing a residence and major holidays are listed as some of the most stressful life events for adults, says the Holmes and Rahe Stress scale, a tool developed by psychiatrists to determine how stress relates to illness.

Yet, meeting the best buyer or seller can’t wait for ideal life circumstances, Patti McKelvey of McMillin Realty said.

“Some people don’t really have a choice. If they’re being transferred to Boston and they have to have their house sold now, that’s the reality,” she said. “It may be stressful, but it’s also real life.”

She said this season is busier than it has been in the last two years, in part, because some buyers are worried about interest rates going up. Average long-term rates on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 0.02 percent this week to 3.95 percent amid expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise its key short-term interest rate next week, according to The Associated Press.

The seriousness of buyers and sellers during the holidays weeds out of people who slow down the process with those who really want to get a deal made, said Sue Herndon, an agent with Keller Williams Realty.

“The buyers that are looking really need to find a house, or they would be out doing what the rest of us are doing,” she said.

Although it may be a good time for sellers, it is more difficult for buyers because their are fewer homes for sale, notes Andrew LePage, data analyst for CoreLogic.

Wendy Rader said the toughest part of the search was finding homes for sale.

“June, July, August, part of September, there were 3 to 4 listings a day. It was heaven. There was something all the time,” she said. “In October, November, there’s probably one listing every four days.”

There were 7,238 homes for sale in August this year, said Multiple Listing Service. This month, there are 5,821.