Is it a good time to buy a house? With fewer home buyers in the market to compete with, you may discover that winter is the best time to buy a house. As the weather cools, home sellers start to feel a greater sense of urgency to get their homes sold as quickly as possible. But when winter arrives and their home has not sold yet, many sellers become more willing to negotiate with buyers on items such as listing price, contingencies, or repairs. So, wintertime can put buyers in a strong position to find the home they want, and potentially save money!
As with every decision in life, there are pros and cons to consider carefully if you’re buying a home in winter. You’re not alone, however, if you feel like you just want someone to say yes to the burning question every new home buyer asks: Is now a good time to buy a house? But knowing when to buy a house may feel more clear-cut if you’re aware of the benefits of buying a home in winter. Without a crystal ball, it’s not possible to provide a definitive answer on the best time to buy a house, but we can provide these seven winning reasons why winter may be the best time of the year to buy a house.
7 Reasons Why Winter Is When to Buy a House
1. Home Prices Start to Come Down
Home prices change with the seasons and in wintertime, prices are typically lowest in January and February, which means how much home you can afford often can be at its highest. When you buy during a time of increased home affordability, it can result in either:
- The cost to buy a home now may be less than it will be in spring, or
- You can buy more house (more square footage, higher level of finish, better condition, and/or a more desirable location) for the same or a similar amount of money.
When you can take advantage of lower housing prices, it can increase your chances to afford the home you want. (Plus, when it comes to the biggest single investment you may ever have, saving money on your home purchase can also help prevent buyer’s remorse.)
2. Quicker Transactions and Closings
During the winter months, there are fewer real estate transactions than in spring and summer. Fewer transactions mean mortgage lenders have fewer loans to process, title and escrow companies have fewer closings to process, and home inspectors have fewer inspections. When it takes less time to complete each of these steps in a typical home-buying process, it should lead to quicker transactions and closings for all the parties involved.
3. Home Sellers Are Motivated
Homes are bought and sold 365 days a year, but sometimes, a home on the market during the winter months is a “must sell” situation. Perhaps the seller is motivated to sell because of a new job, life change, or other pressing matter that is pushing them to close quickly.
Sellers may also be keen to sell before the weather conditions become even more challenging. Real estate agents know these kinds of situations can result in a seller who is more willing to negotiate, whether it's on price, closing costs, or closing date. In the end, the best time to buy a home is when a seller is motivated to sell.
4. Less Competition for Buyers
In most markets, winter can also be the best time of the year to buy a house because the available housing inventory is at its lowest. Lower inventory can mean fewer home buyers to compete with you on that house you want. Less competition can also increase the probability of your offer being accepted.
When there are fewer buyers in the market, the seller also may be willing to negotiate on price. Fewer buyers competing for homes also means the chances of multiple offers on a single property decrease. Often, this can result in you gaining a stronger position than the seller in the negotiation process. All these factors add up to an opportunity for you to save money. Remember: the laws of supply and demand are always at work in real estate sales.
5. Real Estate Agents Can Focus on You
An experienced real estate agent knows how to adapt to the current season. During the slower winter months, your real estate agent has more time, which can mean you benefit by having more undivided attention from a pro, giving you helpful suggestions and tips on how to buy a home during the winter season. Agents work hard all year but with fewer clients shopping for homes, they have time to work even harder for you. Plus, these lower activity months for real estate sales also motivate agents to help you find the right home, negotiate the best deal for you, and close the transaction quickly.
6. Winter Is a Feature, Not a Bug
It may seem counterintuitive, but the colder weather is another reason why winter is the best time to buy a house—it potentially offers a better home-buying experience. Many people don’t enjoy house hunting during the heat of the summer months. Driving to or walking around open houses in hot weather is just not fun. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures and explore homes and neighborhoods rather than just driving by or sweating through a day of crowded showings.
7. Opportunity to Assess a Home’s Condition in Wintertime
Winter can be the toughest season on a home. The cold, moisture, and wind will test a home’s ability to insulate and protect its occupants. When you are viewing homes to buy in winter, you will see them during the most demanding time of year and you’ll get to assess first-hand how well the insulation works, for example. Significant problems are more likely to appear as well, such as if a home feels drafty, if the HVAC system works well, and so on.
Buying a home in winter affords you the opportunity to discover things that otherwise might not be noticeable in warmer weather. Such information can be extremely useful in your decision-making and your negotiations about the final price of the home.
So, is it a good time to buy a house this winter? Yes. When you factor in all these reasons, now may just be your best time to buy a house. As a home buyer, you can benefit favorably, in ways you’re less likely to experience during the peak spring and summer selling seasons.
Make Sure You Have Home Warranty Protection
No matter what time of year you buy your dream home, one of the best financial steps you can take is to add a home warranty for buyers to your transaction. Ask your agent about special real estate pricing on a First American home warranty plan and how our coverage works to protect many home appliances and systems you rely on. You also can add coverage for up to 60 days after your closing date—learn more and get a personalized home buyer's warranty quote.