While popular opinion dictates that spring and summer are the hottest markets for real estate, a savvy buyer might think again and buy a home during the off season to score the best deals.
Despite the obvious downsides to a winter house hunt, including lower inventory, weather related hassles, and the extra time it takes to unlace your boots at every open house, other factors make winter a prime buyer’s market.
1. Less Competition
Zillow research suggests that late spring is the best time for home sellers to list to get top dollar for their home, which means that winter could be the best time for buyers looking for a good deal. During spring and summer months, homebuyers often get outbid by more aggressive offers, especially in a seller’s market. Serious buyers can benefit from the lack of competition in the off season as any reasonable offer may get the full attention of the home seller.
2. Motivated sellers
With fewer buyers searching for a home in winter, sellers are more likely to negotiate the terms of sale, which buyers can swing to their advantage. Plus, if a seller is listing their home during winter months, they might have extenuating circumstances prompting the move. Why else would they be listing during the off-season, when they might be likely to net less money on the sale? A buyer might negotiate having the seller cover the closing costs or a home warranty.
3. Fewer delays or service issues
When conducting your home search in the winter, you’ll likely have the undivided attention of not only your Realtor, but also other professionals who serve you through the transaction. Winter is the slower season for all other industry professionals, meaning buyers will likely experience faster, more attentive service at every step of the transaction.
4. Proving weatherproofing
While winter weather might complicate some aspects of a home search, like envisioning the full curb appeal or potential of the garden, the harsh atmospheric conditions actually put other components of your future home to the test. Cold weather will test the strength of your HVAC systems, gutters, and roofs, and you’ll be able to assess drafty areas where windows or insulation might be weak.
If you’re serious about landing your family’s new digs in the New Year, make sure to:
- Budget your holiday spend. While you may be tempted to partake is the seasonal splurge during the holiday season, it’s vital that you maintain your credit score and debt-to-income ratio while you are preparing to purchase a home. A large purchase or additional lines of credit can compromise your credit score and put your potential mortgage in jeopardy, even if you’ve gotten pre-approval. So, practice smart spending and save your funds for your largest gift: your family’s future home.
- Allow for delays in closing. During the winter, everything tends to slow down a bit. The same is true in real estate. Make sure to allow for small setbacks during the closing process to allow for time off work and weather-related delays.
- Be flexible and use your imagination. When searching for a home during the off-season, it’s important to accommodate sellers’ schedules and use your imagination. Sellers may put up showing blocks for the holidays if they are hosting family, so you may have to be patient before visiting your dream home. Additionally, ice and snow might significantly reduce the curb appeal of your potential pad, so you’ll have to use your imagination when envisioning the paver patio and landscaped lot. Come springtime, you’ll be glad you did.