The Best Time Of Year To Buy A House

5-minute read

The best time of year to purchase a home isn’t always when prices are the cheapest. The market and your needs play a significant role. After all, it’s just as possible to find your dream home in July as it is in February.

Buying a home in the dead of winter may score you a discount, but the inventory is usually limited and the move may be more difficult. During the spring, inventory is plentiful, but there’s more competition among buyers.

Does the season actually matter for home buying? You might need to get into a new home before your kids go back to school. Or maybe a move to be closer to a loved as soon as possible matters most. However, you can find houses during all seasons.

Let’s look at the experience of buying during each season to determine which fits your personal preferences.

What’s It Like To Buy A House In The Winter?

Winter is usually the cheapest time of year to purchase a home. Sellers are often motivated, which automatically translates into an advantage to you. Most people suspend their listings from around Thanksgiving to the New Year because they assume buyers are scarce. The ones that do list at that time usually want to sell as soon as possible. They may even be more willing to throw in extra perks such as appliances and window treatments.

Potentially lower purchase prices aren’t the only savings. Real estate agents want to make sales during the slow periods and are more open to negotiating closing costs and commissions.

Even though prices are cheaper during the winter, the inventory is much more limited. Your dream home may be harder to find with such a limited selection.

Winter may also mean that you may have to navigate home searching and open houses in less-than-ideal weather, depending on which part of the county you live in. Even if snowstorms aren’t common in your area, you may not see a property in full bloom. You may pass on a home that might be beautiful in spring.

There are fewer open houses in the winter. It's also hard to gauge the amount of natural light when the days are short. Your inspector may have difficulty determining the condition of the roof if it’s covered in snow, and they might not be able to test the AC unit because of the cold weather.

Despite winter home-searching challenges, the closing process tends to be speedier. Lenders process fewer applications during the winter season. Real estate professionals are usually more accessible and inspectors have less backlog.

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Is It Worth It To Buy In The Spring?

Spring is a hot time of year for the real estate market. The warm weather and end of school tend to draw out sellers and buyers in droves, which creates a healthy marketplace. That’s both good and bad if you’re in the market for a new home. Choices abound, but so does your competition.  

One of the reasons sales inventory tends to increase when temperatures rise is because houses show better. Trees and flowers are in bloom, grass turns green again. Houses look much better in the spring sunlight.

There’s also pent-up demand. Sellers and buyers can often sit it out during the winter months. Sellers generally price their homes high during the spring and bidding wars tend to break out, which can make it a challenging environment in which to purchase a home.

Home prices may be top dollar, but buying in the spring is popular for a lot of reasons. Families want to get settled before a new school year, there’s more time to shop for a home together and the weather makes it a more enjoyable experience. 

If you commit to buying in the spring, prepare to move quickly.

What About Buying In The Summer?

The summer is still a busy buying season, but you can get a great deal if you’re willing to sit tight until the end of the summer. The market is full of battle-ready buyers in the early part of the season. Like spring, be ready to move quickly.

Expect to come in with a strong offer and not just on price. Sellers want to go with a buyer who is serious and can close the deal. If you need to sell your home to purchase a new one, it’s a perfect time to do so. There’s a better chance you can time your sale and purchase together since lots of buyers are on the hunt.

As it gets closer to August, the market slows down a bit. Late August is a great opportunity to find deals because sellers slash prices even further. Don’t blow off the houses that have languished on the market during the spring and summer selling season. It may be that a buyer backed out, which forced a homeowner to lower the price in a less competitive market.

Location matters when you purchase in the summer. The early days of summer are considered peak real estate season in the U.S., but it's not true in all the areas of the country. Florida is a great example. The temperature and humidity skyrockets in July and August, so searching for homes can be less than pleasant.

Buying in the summer has its pros and cons, but timing matters a lot. If you can hold off until the end of the summer, deals abound. However, if you need to get into a home before August, expect to pay top dollar and move quickly with your offer. 

Is It Cheaper To Buy In The Fall?

Outside of winter, a fall purchase can be ideal for cash-strapped home buyers. Once summer ends, sellers get more motivated. They usually lower their prices and provide an opportunity to get a deal. Similar to winter, there’s also less inventory during the fall. Many sellers want to avoid moving during the holiday season. This gives you more room to negotiate when you do make an offer.

There are also fewer buyers during the fall. People who looked during the spring and summer typically want to be settled into a home before school starts. Once fall kicks in, they tend to put home-shopping on hold until the next spring. If you wait until around October, you may be able to get the most bang for your buck. Desperation can start to set in for sellers around that time. This is particularly true of sellers who want to sell their home and get a tax write-off before the end of the year.  

You also get more attention from your real estate agent during the fall. Real estate agents have more free time to spend with you because of a decline in the number of sellers.

Summary

Each season brings with it both positive and negative factors when shopping for a home, including inventory, competition and prices. Rocket Mortgage® by Quicken Loans® is here to help you whenever is best for your situation!

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