Real estate activity often slows surrounding the holiday season and into winter, especially in areas that get a lot of snow. Many people prefer not to move in winter if they can avoid it. There are always buyers out there and our local real estate market is still very hot, but typically the winter months are not as crazy competitive as the rest of the year. Is it really a good idea to buy a home in the winter? It depends on what your personal situation and priorties are, but there are both advantages and disadvantages to buying in the winter season.
If you are thinking of buying a home soon, now may be a good time to start rather than waiting until spring, especially if you are a first-time buyer. First-time home buyers usually have lower down payments and less financial strength, so it can be difficult for them to dive into an ultra competitive market. Buyers with high down payments and cash win in multiple offer situations. When faced with that competition, buyers become extemely aggressive and end up waiving inspections or offering non-refundable earnest money in order to get offers accepted. The biggest advantage of buying in winter is avoiding this competition and the craziness that accompanies it.
So if I buy a home in winter, what are the disadvantages? Most of the disadvantages are limitations on fully inspecting the house. If everything is snow covered, the roof will only be spot checked. You may have no idea what state the lawn and landscaping are in unless the owner has photos from another season. Air conditioning units cannot be tested unless the outdoor temperature is above 60 degrees. Other disadvantages are moving in the winter weather and possibly disrupting kids during the school year. It can also be more hectic to juggle home buying and moving with all of the events that surround the holidays (in any other year). Overall, I think the main disadvantage is the limitation of inspections.
Come spring time, there will be more houses hitting the market and more to choose from, but there will be way more buyers relative to those houses. If you have a high down payment or cash and can compete more easily, spring will bring good selection and better weather. But be prepared to duke it out with others. Although there are some disadvantages to buying in winter, there is one huge benefit: less competition from other buyers. That one advantage could far outweigh anything else depending on your unique situation. If you are a first-time buyer that is ready to buy, but waiting for spring, I recommend you get out there now. Bonus if you can find the right house before the snow actually sticks.
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Great info on everything real estate.