The shift in weather may have inspired thoughts of holiday shopping, but what about shopping for a home? Though spring and summer are considered the most popular seasons of the year to buy a home, don’t let winter weather and the holidays deter you from purchasing in the off-season. In fact, the best day of the year to buy a home is in late October, in regards to getting the best price deal. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to brave the weather or wait until spring, here are some pros and cons of winter homebuying.
Pro: There are usually less homebuyers in the market during the winter months.
A common homebuying fear is losing out to another buyer in a bidding war. Less competition means more time for you to carefully consider a home purchase without the threat of multiple competing offers.
Con: There is usually less inventory though, too.
If you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in your home’s wants and needs, winter might not be the optimal time to start your home search. Inventory tends to drop off significantly in December, meaning buyers may have to compromise on what features their home purchase has (though they might score a really good deal).
Heading into fall, existing home sales data showed that homeowners were still a little reluctant to put their homes on the market. Existing home sale inventory stood at a 4.6-month supply.
Pro: You may find sellers are particularly motivated.
Many sellers who choose to list in the winter have a reason for selling at that time, such as a job relocation. Or some of the houses on the market in the winter may not have sold even though they’ve been listed since late summer. Both situations may mean you’ll find more accommodative and/or motivated sellers.
Con: You may have to move in inclement weather.
Oh, the weather outside is frightful. Snow storms and icy conditions could delay or derail moving plans. On the upside, moving companies and services are typically easier to schedule, and you may be able to negotiate on pricing.
Pro: You’ll see the home’s exterior in its truest state.
You’d be amazed how landscaping and lush trees can hide flaws on a home’s exterior. Bare trees and bushes allow you to really take a look at the condition of the home.
Con: You’ll also have to visualize the summertime curb appeal.
Curb appeal is a huge selling point in the summer, but after the leaves fall and inclement weather starts to churn, some homes may look a little “bare bones” to you. You’ll have to do your best to visualize what a prospective home and yard might look like come springtime.
Pro: You can see for yourself the efficiency of the home’s windows, doors and furnace in keeping the home warm.
If you’re budgeting for utility costs, buying a home in the winter gives you and your home inspector ample opportunity to get a feel for how well a home is sealed, the age and condition of windows, and how well the home’s furnace keeps up.
Con: Shorter days mean less time to check out listed homes in the daylight.
Viewing the property and a home’s exterior can get a little tricky after Daylight Saving Time ends. Unless you have a flexibility with your daytime hours, weekends (which may already be hectic with holiday preparation) may become your only time to view a home.
Pro: Less buyer traffic may mean your real estate agent isn’t as swamped.
Finding a real estate agent that is suited to your needs as a buyer is essential at any time of the year, but if you decide you buy during the off-season, your real estate agent's schedule will likely be less cramped with other showings.
Pro: The ability to move without disrupting the routine of your children.
Whether you choose to move to a different school district or are staying within the boundaries of your kids’ current school, uprooting them in the middle of a semester can be hectic. On the other hand, moving during a holiday break can give them time to get acclimated to the new house before starting school again.
Regardless, the right time of the year to buy a home is when it’s right for you. If you’re considering purchasing your first home in the near future, download our free Mortgage 101 Handbook for everything you need to know about the homebuying and financing process.