Winter seems like a time of year for avoiding real estate. Sellers are reluctant to list their homes and buyers hesitate to look.
Research supports the popular notion that spring is the best time to sell a home. That’s when you’ll get an influx of buyers seeking to purchase because it’s the end of a school year. But when is the best time to buy?
Many factors go into the answer to that question, not least your personal circumstances. Many buyers tend to look for houses in the spring and summer simply because it’s warmer and their personal situation is better suited for a move.
But you shouldn’t automatically discount winter for a home sale. There are good reasons to consider looking for and purchasing a home then, even if it means you could be a little chilly when you move.
Winter Tends to Be a Buyer’s Market
As economic conditions shift, markets will switch between buyers and sellers. Sometimes housing prices will inflate and sellers may expect to profit, and at other times housing values will fall and the buyers will get a great deal.
“A buyer’s market occurs when the supply (available properties for sale) exceeds demand (the number of buyers seeking to purchase properties),” according to a definition from Redfin. “If you’re buying a new home, a buyer’s market is the ideal time to make your move. You might be able to buy a great home for a lower cost than you would in a seller’s market.”
Winter is usually regarded as the time for a buyer’s market because home prices and negotiations lean more in the buyer’s favor. Fewer properties will be for sale and sellers may struggle to land a competitive price.
Because winters tend to feature buyer’s markets, you’re more likely to run into motivated sellers. Fewer buyers are on the prowl, and fewer sellers will list. Homes are more likely to have been on the market for several months, so the seller is may be ready to make an offer.
Buyers who purchase from motivated sellers enjoy significant negotiating power. You might be able to get the price down a reasonable level because the seller is anxious to be rid of the property.
Fewer Buyers to Compete With
No one wants to enter a bidding war over the home of their dreams. That’s less likely to happen in the winter when fewer buyers are looking.
The winter presents a challenge for people moving due to weather, the holidays, and the business of the school year. Low demand will typically work in your favor.
“Fewer buyers generally in the market … can make your offer stronger to sellers,” says Michelle Leader, an Oklahoma City Realtor. “Sellers — they’re not testing the market like we see sometimes in the spring.”
In most markets, low competition means a spike in prices, but not in real estate. The lower number of houses for sale is usually accompanied by a reduction in potential customers, so sellers are forced to lower prices to attract an audience. Winter is known to have some of the lowest prices in real estate, no matter what the market may be.
On the other hand, lower prices usually means fewer options too. “In the summer, there are many houses for sale, people find their ‘ideal house’ quickly, and they are willing to pay a higher price,” says Silvana Tenreyro, economic professor and real estate expert.
“It’s a bit like searching for bargains in a leftovers’ sale. You might see low prices but you are less likely to find your combination of size, color, and style. Only if you search a lot you might get the lucky draw.”
If you’re a picky buyer, you might struggle to find the perfect house among the limited selection. If shopping dozens of options and finding the absolute perfect home is more important to you than the price, you might be better off waiting until spring to buy a house.
Winter Weather in Action
Although winter weather in the Houston area isn’t usually a problem, it can still be a noteworthy concern, especially if you’re looking to move out of the area.
When you buy a home in the spring or the summer, you’ll see it at its best rather than its worst, which may mean you’ll be surprised come winter. “Winter may be the toughest season for a home,” says Bill Gassett of Max Real Estate Exposure.
“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 as well, like an ice dam. Such information can be extremely useful in your decision making and your negotiations about the final price of the home.”
More Dedicated Realtors
A busy Realtor is a good sign, but it also means that your Realtor will have less time and energy to devote to your specific case. If you’re shopping during a busy season like the springtime, it may be harder to schedule showings, and you’re not guaranteed your Realtor’s full attention.
Winter is less demanding for agents, so you’re more likely to enjoy their full attention. Realtors will have more time to help you make hard decisions and work around your schedule.
You Need a Home Now
Some people have to buy a home in the winter out of necessity. They need a place to live right away because of a job change, rising taxes, or problems with their current residence.
When that’s the case, you can’t afford to be picky about the home you buy, and the winter selection will be golden for you. Fortunately, a winter home purchase offers some advantages, so even if you don’t find your ideal house, you can still be content with the one you find.
Last-Minute Tax Breaks
Many renters are unaware of the many tax benefits available to homeowners, especially those who have high income and few or no dependents. Homeowners are typically allowed certain deductions based on the amount of money they put into their investment.
“If you close by December 31, you can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, points on your loan and interest costs,” explains Anne Miller of Realtor.com. “These deductions are significant, especially in the early years of your loan when you’re paying off a lot of interest.”
Contact Green Residential to Buy Your Winter Home Today!
To get the full benefits of purchasing a home in the winter, contact a real estate agent at Green Residential. Our team is devoted to helping you find the best possible home at a great price, and at any time of the year. For more information about our services in Houston or any of our beautiful surrounding areas, contact us today!