Perks of Shopping for a Home in the Winter
Published: November 2018
Author: Bank of England Mortgage Staff
When it comes to shopping for a home, winter is not the most popular season. Cold, the wind, snow and short days all make hunkering down and staying inside appealing. Real estate sales slow down, fewer homes are on the market, and many people wait to buy or sell till Spring hits.
But as a home buyer, you may benefit from going against the grain and looking for a home in the winter. There are some perks to home shopping at this time - advantages that may make the buying process easier and more productive.
1. There are fewer buyers.
The number one reason why you should buy a home in the winter is there are fewer buyers! As a buyer, you want to be special - you want to walk into a home and have the owner to be excited that you are there. In the spring and summer, there is no shortage of potential buyers, meaning that in more vibrant markets you face competition. More potential customers increase the possibility of a bidding war. You may even struggle to get an opportunity to make an offer, as houses are snatched of the market at record speed.
In the winter, sellers will get less attention and in turn will be more eager to work with you. The laws of supply and demand are always at work in real estate sales. The current inventory of homes for sale will always have a bearing on how the real estate market is fairing.
2. You may get a better deal.
If there are fewer buyers in the market, then you may be able to get a better price on the home you do buy. The seller will not have as many offers and may be willing to negotiate a better price to make the sale. There is no guarantee that you will find something for a steal, but the natural flow of supply and demand will increase your odds of finding a home for a fair price in the winter.
3. There are tax motivations for sellers in the winter.
Selling a home offers certain tax advantages that come in handy when it is time to file. As you hunt for houses, you may find that some owners desire to take advantage of selling their homes to improve their tax situation, which works to your benefit. Eager sellers are exactly what you want as a buyer - someone who is motivated to sell and will be willing to negotiate.
4. You get to see how a home works in harsh weather.
Depending on the market you are buying in, winter may be the toughest season for a home. 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 your 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.
5. You may not have to negotiate as much.
No one wants to go through long, drawn out negotiations if they don't have to. It can be stressful to haggle back and forth when you just want to get it over with and get a good deal in the process. One of the nice things about homes being sold in winter is that many sellers are already aware that the season requires compromises, which means you will find many homes priced to sell. If they are working with an experienced Realtor, the sellers will know that winter is the time for quick, decisive deals that save everyone time and headaches.
6. Mortgage rates may go up next year.
You want to get the best mortgage rate you can. Buying during winter, before rates have a chance to increase, is a clear winning strategy if you want to save extra money. Of course, interest rates don't always go up, so you have to be aware of the financial climate you are buying in. If, however, you think that interest rates are likely to increase next year, buying your home before the rate hike is a good idea.
7. You may need to buy a home now.
While it might be nice to wait until the weather is more pleasant to go home shopping, if circumstances dictate that now is the time to buy, you might not have much of a choice. Fortunately, the advantages of buying in the winter can be significant - more than enough to make you feel right about your need to purchase a home.
Be sure to remember the tax deductions when buying a house. Many buyers who have been renting have no idea they can save some significant money becoming a homeowner. Go through the list and keep it in a safe place for when you itemize your deductions. By forgetting any of these tax deductions, it's like throwing money away!
8. The seller may be moving out of necessity.
Homeowners are just like everyone else - many of them would prefer to sell in the spring or summer. However, they could be in a situation where selling is necessary due to circumstances beyond their control. They may be moving for work, for family or due to financial hardship. Whatever the reason, these sellers are ready to unload their homes now. As a buyer you benefit from their need, closing sooner and for a better price than you would in the more popular months.
9. Everyone is less busy - including your Realtor and your lender.
Realtors are eager to work with motivated buyers in the winter, and lenders have more time on their hands to process paperwork. Trying to buy in the more popular season may mean waiting longer to get your Realtor's attention, and it increases your chances of waiting on your lender to get the ball rolling and get the money in your hands.
10. The holidays may make everyone a little nicer.
People are more likely to offer a good deal to someone they like. People tend to feel more open to strangers, and more generous, during the holidays. You may just get a better price based on holiday cheer. While this may not be the case with all sellers, many are in much greater spirits.