October 24, 2022
When is the Best Time of Year to Buy a Home?
When is the best and worst time of year to buy a house? The answers may depend on more factors than you think. Here are some things to keep in mind as you get ready to mark moving day on your calendar.
Seasonal trends in the real estate market are largely driven by consumer habits. Think weather, holidays, and school calendars. Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of buying a house in each season.
Snow. Holidays. Short days and long nights. Is it any wonder winter is often the cheapest time of year to buy a house, especially in cold climates?
Pros of buying a home in winter:
- Fewer people are eager to move, reducing competition among buyers.
- Sellers who’ve had their properties listed since spring are often motivated and willing to negotiate on price and other perks.
- Real estate agents are less busy and may be willing to offer more personalized service and negotiate on closing costs and commissions.
- This traditionally less busy time can mean an all-around speedier process – for lenders, inspectors, and real estate agents.
Cons of buying a home in winter:
- Fewer properties are usually on the market, so your selection may be limited.
- Fewer open houses occur during winter.
- You may not get to see a home’s full potential such as a flower garden in full bloom or natural light throughout the rooms.
- Cold weather can make packing and moving less desirable.
As the weather warms up and the school year nears its end, the real estate market comes to life. After a seeming hibernation, buyers and sellers come out in droves. According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), home sales activity between February and March typically increases by 34 percent and prices rise by 3 percent.
Pros of buying a home in spring:
- More sellers mean more properties to choose from.
- Warmer weather makes for better viewing and moving experiences.
- Open houses abound.
- If you have a family, you’ll have a chance to buy and get settled in your new home before school starts.
Cons of buying a home in spring:
- Home prices are driven up by fresh listings and more buyer competition.
- Bidding wars between buyers becomes more prevalent.
- You may have to move quickly to have a chance at a property your heart is set on.
- An influx of business can backlog real estate agents, lenders, inspectors, and appraisers, slowing down the whole process.
After the spring craze, summer starts to level things out. Early summer is considered peak real estate season, but demand from buyers and sellers tends to fall as we enter the second half of the year. When looking at data that’s not adjusted for seasonality, the NAR reported home sales, inventory, and prices all declined from July to August 2021.
Pros of buying a home in summer:
- Inventory is still prevalent, with new properties still becoming available.
- The weather is advantageous for viewing properties – indoors and out.
- It’s very possible to get a good deal if you wait until later in the season.
Cons of buying a home in summer:
- Early in the season usually requires moving quickly and paying top dollar.
- Your timeline shrinks if you want to move before the start of a new school year.
As schools start and temperatures drop, the real estate market tends to slow down again. But mild weather and motivated sellers can be a winning combination. If you can score the right property, October may be the best time of the year to buy a house. A study by RealtyTrac showed average sale prices in October were 2.6 percent below the average estimated full market value.
Pros of buying a home in fall:
- Home prices generally decrease.
- Sellers may be extra willing to negotiate so they can get rid of the property before winter and have a tax write-off before the end of the year.
- Like winter, you may get faster or more personalized experience from less busy industry professionals.
Cons of buying a home in fall:
- Less inventory than spring and summer, limiting your options.
The best time of year to buy a house goes beyond the month or season. There are additional pieces to the home buying puzzle, such as the state of the housing market, the economy, and your personal situation.
Many factors can affect the housing market as a whole. Supply and demand drive home prices up and down, creating buyers markets or sellers markets. And what’s happening on a local level? The health of a town’s economy is a strong indication of your future home’s value. Finally, don’t forget to look at your own finances and goals to determine the best time to buy a house.
When is the best time to apply for a mortgage? If your financial ducks are in a row, it’s a good time to apply. You may choose to contact lenders within the first few days of a new month – when they are most responsive to new business. Remember that lenders also feel the effects of peak real estate season, and service may be slower during spring, summer, and periods of low rates.
Some things to consider:
- Research housing trends to understand what’s happening in the real estate market and what experts predict will happen next. Sometimes there’s no getting around the fact it’s simply not the best year to buy a house.
- What’s going on in the city or town you’re considering moving to? Is it an up-and-coming destination or a struggling economy?
- If all other pieces are in place, it’s time to think through your personal situation. Can you afford to buy a house right now?
- You may receive more attentive and streamlined service from lenders at the beginning of a month or during an off-peak time.
With so many pros, cons, and factors at play, there’s no one perfect time to buy a house. As you’ve learned, the best time relies heavily on your own situation. If you’re still deciding, try making a list of the things that matter most to you. What are your “non-negotiables” and what is less of a concern? These answers will help guide you to the right answer.