Most Americans start househunting in earnest in the spring and move into new homes between May and September. While taking all this on in the dead of winter might not sound appealing, buying a home during the cooler months may have some advantages.
Here are seven great reasons to consider buying a home in the winter.
Reason #1: You’ll have less competition
Over the past few years, it has been common to see lines of potential buyers queueing at the door for most open houses. That’s especially true in spring and summer when there’s plenty of competition with other house hunters, properties sell much faster and bidding wars start heating up. You might have less inventory to choose from in winter — depending on the part of the country you’re in, of course — but you’ll be more likely to have an offer accepted when there are fewer potential buyers.
Reason #2: There are bargains out there
With fewer buyers in the market — and fewer over-asking or all-cash offers — you may be able to negotiate a better price since sellers will not have as many offers to choose from. And if the home you’re interested in has been on the market for a while, getting it for a price you want to pay is more likely. With a long winter ahead, sellers may be more willing to drop their prices to make a sale sooner.
Reason #3: Tax incentives can motivate sellers
As a buyer, you’re not just looking for a home; you’re looking for an eager seller – someone who may be motivated to make a deal and is willing to negotiate. As you hit some open houses, consider that some sellers may be looking to benefit from certain tax advantages that can come with selling a home. Even better, they may want to get that tax write-off in the current tax year rather than waiting til the next and may also offer you a quick-to-close offer.
Reason #4: Cold weather exposes a home’s bumps and bruises
In spring and summer, homebuyers typically see a property all decked out with trim painted to perfection and landscaping that provides the desired “curb appeal.” Instead, winter shoppers might see all the imperfections that aren’t as obvious in warmer weather. Wind, wet and colder temps will test poorly-sealed windows and insulation and expose an inefficient heating system. And serious problems, like ice dams, are only seen in the winter. Cold-weather issues like this can indeed be fixed, but they could help you negotiate an acceptable final price.
Reason #5: Some sellers need to unload a property
Homebuyers expect to go through lengthy, drawn-out negotiations in peak selling months, haggling back and forth to make a deal. In winter, though, many sellers are prepared for compromises; they’re pricing their homes to sell quickly. Even after a home inspection, the seller may be more amenable to negotiating repairs or adjusting the price, something they may be less likely to do in a seller’s market. Remember, the seller may need to unload the home quickly; they may be moving for work, family reasons, or financial hardship. As a homebuyer, you’re the beneficiary of this situation which might result in a better price and a quicker closing. Take advantage of it.
Reason #6: Realtors and lenders have more time for you
Go househunting once spring starts in earnest and you could find yourself waiting a lot longer to get your real estate agent’s attention — they’re just so busy in the high season. Likewise, many mortgage loan officers have their plates full then, too, so turnaround can take longer and closings may get delayed. But winters can be slower in many parts of the country, and motivated buyers are rarer — so they’re even more attractive to realtors and lenders. It’s all about supply and demand, and the unexpected personal attention you receive in the winter is a nice breath of fresh air. Enjoy the limelight!
Reason #7: Moving companies need the business
Real estate agents and mortgage loan officers aren’t the only ones in high demand in spring and summer: movers are stretched to the limits then, too, especially since families want to get moving over and done with before the kids return to school in late August. If you live in a part of the country where cold, wet weather makes moving a miserable experience, you might understand why it’s easier to book movers in the winter: it’s not as busy or competitive then. Not only might you be offered a better rate and time slot, you may have more flexibility if the weather doesn’t cooperate and you have to reschedule your moving day.
Winter home buying: the bottom line
If you’re currently in the market to buy a new home — perhaps your first — there may be significant benefits to doing so during the winter months. That said, the best time to buy is whenever you’re ready, and being pre-approved for a budget you can afford is the best first step to finding the home of your dreams! Reach out to Hung Le, our mortgage partner, when you’re ready to discuss financing!