If you’re thinking about buying a new home, you’re probably at least vaguely aware that your timing is everything. Home prices fluctuate constantly, in response to many variables — the economy, the housing market specifically, and various neighborhood conditions — so submitting a bid on a home at the right time could make your investment multiple times more valuable (especially if you can wait over the long term).
Many prospective homeowners can’t afford or can’t stand to wait around for months, even years, to land the absolute perfect deal, however; instead, they choose to look at smaller factors to make their home purchase decision. For example, they may study seasonal price shifts to give themselves an edge in identifying a good home price.
In the Katy, Texas area, winters aren’t very harsh, but they still entail seasonal changes with fewer moves. At least in theory, if fewer people buy homes in winter, prices will drop, which gives you an advantage when you bid on a house.
But is that thinking accurate? Is winter the best time to buy a new home?
Is Winter Actually a Slow Time for Real Estate?
First, let’s ask whether winter truly is a slower time for real estate activity. As much as 50 percent of all home sales in the U.S. occur in the summer, and most data sets suggest the frequency of home purchases tends to rise more or less with the outdoor temperature.
Thus, winter would be the slowest time for home transactions. Part of the hypothesis is correct: Winter is indeed a slower time for real estate. But does that mean it’s necessarily a good time to move?
Effects on Prices
We might also look at the behavior of home prices during the winter months. Just because more real estate transactions occur during the spring and summer, that doesn’t mean the average price for a home also rises.
Remember, we’re looking for the lowest price here. In reality, home prices tend to climb in summer, all right, with differences hovering around 10 percent between summer and winter prices. This isn’t universally true, but it’s significant enough that it will likely factor into your overall decision.
That 10 percent can make a big difference on your purchase and return on investment. A $200,000 home could potentially go up or down a full $20,000 in price.
You’ll also need to think about the convenience of the home purchase and your move. In Katy, Texas, winters aren’t that bad, but if you’re moving here from the Midwest or another part of the country that gets a lot of snow, ice, and generally harsh weather, moving in winter might not be worth what you’d save on the home price.
If a home drops by $1,000 in price, for example, that dip may not be worth the hassle you’ll face in trying to move all your possessions from your existing home during a cold snap or hailstorm. On the other hand, since spring and summer are such busy months for real estate transactions, real estate agents tend to be busier.
That means it might be harder to find a representative to oversee your move, which could make things more stressful than you’d like. Moving in winter could be an advantage if you want a more leisurely decision-making process with attentive, dedicated help that has plenty of time for you.
So all seasons have certain advantages and disadvantages when it comes to general convenience, so you’ll want to weigh your personal motivations with care.
Other Factors to Consider
The seasons are far from the only factor that can affect home prices, though. Consider the following variables:
- Work and logistic demands. Most people have some logistical and timing requirements when they move. For example, you may be starting a new job on a certain date, or seeking to move before the new school year starts. If that’s the case, those factors are probably going to be your priority. It’s not a good idea to wait and move during winter for a marginal dip in price if it means putting undue stress on your family or professional obligations.
- Home condition and location. A home’s current condition and location tend to factor more heavily into the current and future price than any seasonal dips. For example, a residence in an up-and-coming neighborhood may double in price over the course of your occupancy and ownership, and completely dwarf the relatively insignificant increase you’d get from a seasonal swing.
- Timing tolerance. Deals come and go on the real estate market — not just in winter. In peak spring and summer months, you may see homes emerge at 20 percent (or more) less than what they could be asking, largely because of the current homeowner’s situation. If you’re a patient opportunist, good prices can often be found at any time of the year.
- Purchase motivation. Also, consider your main goals in looking for a home. Is your primary vision to strike a healthy profit, or are you looking for a good place to raise a family? In some cases, the “right” home may be worth paying extra for.
The Bottom Line
It’s fair to say that winter is a less popular season for buying and selling homes, but that can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Though it’s not universally the case, home prices often dip during the winter months; but even then, the most you’re likely to see is a reduction of 10 percent, and that’s not unusual for people eager to move (which could happen during any season).
Ultimately, seasonal changes are just one of many variables you’ll be considering when you plan the purchase of your new home. So the answer is yes, winter is statistically the best season for finding a good price, but it’s hardly the only factor.
If you’re about to buy a new home or sell your old one, you could probably use some help! Contact Green Residential today for professional assistance in moving to or from the Katy and Houston, Texas area, and you’ll tap into our combined decades of expertise in real estate transactions.