The real estate market operates in cycles: the busy season is kicking off in the Spring, where transactions ramp up and slow down as the winter months take hold. Traditionally, the Winter is regarded as the “off-season” within real estate, and the market is not as robust as the middle of summer. However, if you have decided to become a homeowner during this time, there’s no reason you need to postpone your house hunt until the Spring, and here’s why:
1) Better Prices
During the Winter, sellers listing their homes are likely in a rush to offload the property and close quickly, whether that’s due to needing to relocate swiftly into a new area or missing out on making a sale during the summer months. Because of this, sellers eager to close may be more lenient and accommodating with any requests or negotiations that you may have.
These factors mean you will save a few thousand on a home than buying during the peak season. Historically, the winter months mark the most affordable time to buy a home. However, it’s important to note that in 2022, we are likely to see a similar impact on the seller’s market seen throughout the pandemic. As more and more due millennials reach the point of their lives where homeownership makes sense, the shortage of available homes has driven prices up. Regardless of that wrinkle, you will likely find better prices during the Winter than you would when the busy season picks up again.
2) Less Competition
Typically, there is less inventory available during the winter market, and other buyers may be waiting until the influx of more options during the Spring to begin their search. If you find a house and want to make an offer on it, there’s less of a chance for another buyer to come to start a bidding war.
Online house shopping has made it more accessible for sellers to show off their homes and for potential buyers to get a look without attending an open house. However, unless you are a serious buyer, the added hurdle of winter weather and being busy with holiday celebrations may detract some less committed buyers from taking the trip out to view the home in person. Ultimately, most buyers and sellers in the market during the Winter are more committed to getting the transaction done quickly.
3) See the Home’s Systems in Action
During the busy season, you will enjoy the entire curb appeal of the home and see what it looks like on a pleasant summer day. You can envision hosting cookouts and cooling off in the house air conditioning. However, many homebuyers might not consider how the home handles the cold weather during the viewing at this time.
Viewing a home during the Winter provides a better look at how many vital systems like the HVAC, roof, gutters, plumbing, and insulation perform to keep the interior of your home warm and dry. You can see firsthand if they are in good condition or need some work, all before you buy the house, and they become your responsibility. Getting a home inspection will undoubtedly reveal more about these systems and their condition than you will pick up on during your walkthrough.
4) Better Rates and Quicker Processing
In addition to lower home prices, you will likely see mortgage rates at their lowest during the Winter. However, you will typically find lower mortgage rates between December and February compared to other months. With fewer transactions happening, there’s a good chance that your mortgage broker will not be backed up with other clients and can process your mortgage process quickly. The same goes for your real estate agent, as they are likely working with fewer clients to offer more attention and timeliness to your closing process and any negotiations with the seller.
You don’t have to wait for the busy season to start your search and find your new home! With less inventory on the market, you may not be able to check off every feature on your wish list, but you have advantages that can help you find a bargain and move into it quickly. Even if you don’t find the house of your dreams now, you will be better prepared than most other buyers in the Spring, ready to hit the ground running as more sellers enter the market.