Over the years quite a few people have asked me if they should buy a home in the winter. The question is usually “is there any advantage to buying a home in the winter Dan?”
When it comes to shopping for a home, winter is not the most popular season. Cold, the wind, snow and short days all make hunkering down and staying inside appealing. Real estate sales slow down, fewer homes are on the market, and many people wait to buy or sell till spring hits.
But as a home buyer, you may benefit from going against the grain and looking for a home in the winter. There are some perks to home shopping at this time – advantages that may make the buying process easier and more productive.
Keep in mind many sellers will ask real estate agents if they should take the home off the market for the winter. Those sellers who do not remove their homes from the market could have a situation that makes it dire for them to sell right away.
Advantages To Buying A Home In The Winter
1. There are fewer buyers.
The number one reason why you should buy a home in the winter is there are fewer buyers! As a buyer, you want to be special – you want to walk into a home and have the owner to be excited that you are there. In the spring and summer, there is no shortage of potential buyers, meaning that in more vibrant markets you face competition. More potential customers increase the possibility of a bidding war. You may even struggle to get an opportunity to make an offer, as houses are snatched off the market at record speed.
In the winter, sellers will get less attention and in turn will be more eager to work with you. The laws of supply and demand are always at work in real estate sales. The current inventory of homes for sale will always have a bearing on how the real estate market is fairing.
If you are looking to buy a home in the winter and there happens to be a ton of homes for sale you may get an even better deal!
2. You may get a better deal.
If there are fewer buyers in the market, then you may be able to get a better price on the home you do buy. The seller will not have as many offers and may be willing to negotiate a better price to make the sale. There is no guarantee that you will find something for a steal, but the natural flow of supply and demand will increase your odds of finding a home for a fair price in the winter.
Getting a better price for a home is even more likely if the owners home has been on the market for a while. With a long winter ahead of them, sellers may be more willing to discount their price to get their home sold.
3. You get to see how a home works in harsh weather.
Depending on the market you are buying in, winter may be the toughest season for a home. The cold, moisture and wind will test the ability of the home to insulate and protect its residents, something that you want to know about if you are going to buy. If the insulation is no good, for instance, you are more likely to notice it as you view the home. Significant problems are also more liable to appear.
If you find the home to be drafty for some reason. Buying a home in the winter affords you the opportunity to discover these things which otherwise might not happen in a warm weather season.
4. You may not have to negotiate as much.
No one wants to go through long, drawn out negotiations if they don’t have to. It can be stressful to haggle back and forth when you just want to get it over with and get a good deal in the process. One of the nice things about homes being sold in winter is that many sellers are already aware that the season requires compromises, which means you will find many homes priced to sell. If they are working with an experienced Realtor, the sellers will know that winter is the time for quick, decisive deals that save everyone time and headaches.
When you discover issues at a home inspection, the seller may also be far more willing to negotiate repairs or additional money off the house. You might be able to get concessions that otherwise would be less likely in a more competitive seller’s market like spring time. Bargaining for concessions is certainly something worth discussing with your agent when the time comes.
5. Mortgage rates may go up next year.
You want to get the best mortgage rate you can. Buying during winter, before rates have a chance to increase, is a clear winning strategy if you want to save extra money. Of course, interest rates don’t always go up, so you have to be aware of the financial climate you are buying in. If, however, you think that interest rates are likely to increase next year, buying your home before the rate hike is a good idea.
Rates have been at historically low levels for quite a while, so the odds of them going up are certainly there. Be sure to speak with your mortgage broker to get their take on the best time to lock an interest rate.
6. Everyone is less busy – including your Realtor and your lender.
Realtors are eager to work with motivated buyers in the winter, and lenders have more time on their hands to process paperwork. Trying to buy in a more popular season may mean waiting longer to get your Realtor’s attention, and it increases your chances of waiting on your lender to get the ball rolling and get the money in your hands.
If you desire to close quickly, purchasing a home in the winter may make it easier to do so.
7. The holidays may make everyone a little nicer.
People are more likely to offer a good deal to someone they like. People tend to feel more open to strangers, and more generous, during the holidays. You may just get a better price based on holiday cheer. While this may not be the case with all sellers, many are in much greater spirits.