One of the most common questions any realtor will receive is when the best time of year to buy a home is. In truth, the best time to buy a home is when you find one that meets all of your requirements, is fairly priced, and one that you can picture making a home. Many times, it’s a visceral reaction. You see a home, and you just know that it is the perfect one. When that happens, it’s important to pounce right away as these homes tend to go under contract very quickly.
However, all too often, many prospective home buyers will decide to take a respite in the winter months and wait until spring to continue on with their search. They do have some points on their side. If they have children, for example, it does make sense to wait until spring and close right around the end of the school year if they plan on leaving their current school district so their children can start fresh the next year.
Another issue could be time. In the beginning of the winter season, we’re right in the middle of the holiday season as well so you might have family over, be busy with shopping and holiday parties, or may be traveling yourself. It is generally more difficult to get a real estate issue done as sellers/agents are more likely to be out of town or busy themselves. This lasts until the first week of January, but then things tend to get back to normal. However, if you’re busier this time of year then, by all means, wait until a time when you have the time to conduct a full search, get your records in order for underwriting, etc.
Finally, the weather can be a little tricky this time of year, depending on where you live. If you live in Southern California and are looking to buy a home there, the weather might not be such a big deal. Now, if you’re looking to buy a home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the weather might present a few more logistical problems. It could be difficult to house hunt when the roads are blanketed with snow and ice.
There Is a Flip Side…
If the issues mentioned above affect you, it does make sense to wait until spring. Buying a home can be extremely stressful. Even if you have the best agent, there are no issues found in underwriting, and the home inspector says that the home is perfect (this never happens), there’s always something that tends to go wrong. And it magically is usually during the week of closing. So, if you need to wait because you’re busy or there’s a blizzard every other day, that’s fine.
However, many prospective home buyers simply delay the search because they think the housing market is dead in winter. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A motivated seller will be happy to part ways with his or her house any time of year. The housing market is not a brown bear; it does not go away and hibernate in the winter. It is there all winter long, and it can usually offer some pretty great advantages this time of year as well. If you’re not sure if you should go out for the next two months and house hunt, consider the following:
You Can See How Well the House Does in the Elements: If you are shopping for a home where the weather is seasonal, you’ll get to see how what the house looks like in winter. It is much easier for issues like loose fence posts or exterior doors that aren’t sealed properly to go unnoticed when the weather is nice. If there is a foot of snow on the ground and heavy winds, you’ll get a better picture of how well-built and updated the house really is.
You’re Bound to Find a Good Deal: Remember what was said above. Some prospective home buyers simply do not shop for homes this time of year. If you can avoid a bidding war on a home, this is a good thing. Chances are if you think that a home is great, someone else will too. This is especially the case if you live in an area where the market is hot. And because there are fewer buyers, the seller might be more willing to accept a lower offer – especially if he or she is motivated to sell because of relocation, financial issues, etc. You can easily save a lot of money if you decide to house hunt now.
Your Home Will Be Ready Once Spring Comes Around: Let’s say you made an offer on a home today, and it was quickly accepted. If you buy a home with cash, you can close in as little as fifteen days. However, most homes purchased are financed through a bank or HUD, and these transactions usually take 30-45 days, depending on whether or not all of the requirements are fulfilled, and there aren’t any surprises in underwriting. This would put you in your home by Mid-March or Early April, which is right about the time many homeowners start gardens, landscaping projects, etc. If you buy a house in winter, you can be in it right about the time the weather starts to warm up, which means you can start right away making the house your home.
So there you have it. If you want to buy a home, but you’ve bought into the notion that buying a home in winter is not the best idea, hopefully, this post dispelled some of the myths you might have heard. People buy and sell homes all year-round, and it is possible that your dream home is sitting right there in the MLS listings right now. If you haven’t already, hire an experienced real estate agent in your area who can provide you with home recommendations based on your criteria and get the process started as soon as possible. That dream home might be there right now, but it won’t be there forever.
Jillian Dudek is a freelance writer from New Jersey who has contributed to an array of blogs of different topics, including business and entrepreneurship, real state and buying homes in Margate, finance and money management, health and fitness, and education. She has over a decade of experience in content creation, in which she freelanced for a local NJ parenting magazine, “Curious Parents,” and wrote for her college newspaper, “The Tower,” ultimately becoming the Editor-in-Chief. Jillian currently lives in South Jersey with her husband and dog, Bailee.