Trying to predict the best time of year to buy a house may feel like guessing where lightning will strike. As a buyer, knowing when to shop for a new house is important, but it’s not enough. You will also have to know the best time to sell your home.
When you are not a real estate agent, figuring out the changes in the market can be tricky. All experts will tell you to expect changes, but even the pros had to re-examine data and trends during a pandemic. Some of those changes were helpful to the world of real estate, and some not so much.
It may serve you best to think about your priorities when searching for a house, in order to determine the best time of year to search for your dream home. Let’s examine the four seasons, and their pros and cons for the home buyer.
According to Zillow, late summer is the best opportunity for a large inventory of real estate to choose from, but really inventory is plentiful from early spring until late August. If you’re looking to buy a home in August, it may mean you have more options, which can be especially helpful if you aren’t exactly sure what your needs are out of the gate.
More of a selection is also beneficial if you are getting to know a new area and want to do a price comparison to help you determine which neighborhoods work best for your lifestyle, family, and commute. Not to mention the weather is likely ideal for driving to open houses, regardless of where you are in the country. There is a slight disadvantage to all these choices – the price tag.
Competition among buyers when inventory is plentiful can drive up prices, so summer months don’t exactly favor those on a budget. However, some brokers will tell you there are amazing deals to be found towards the end of August. Some buyers are wary of viewing a home that’s been on the market during the spring and most of the summer, but it’s best to not be discouraged. Anxious sellers are usually willing to slash prices so they can finalize a sale before the winter.
Fall and Winter
In the fall and winter months, inventory goes down just like the temperature – but so do prices. Highly motivated sellers who couldn’t get a sale during the spring and summer become even more flexible on price. It’s a great opportunity to get a deal on a home.
Also keep in mind, the business slows down during holiday months as more people are traveling and postponing any big moves until the weather improves and they have less seasonal chaos to navigate. Frankly, it’s not a great time of the year to move. And that’s also why it’s a great time to buy.
Aside from the lower inventory, there is the logistics of navigating in colder weather when shopping for a house in winter months.
Depending on where you live, snowstorms and icy roads can make open houses more trouble than they are worth, and also kill some of the joy and awe that come from seeing a home with trees and flowers in full bloom. House hunting during winter months can be downright depressing, so it really will depend on your personal priorities when it comes to house hunting in the winter.
Without a doubt, spring is the season to buy (and sell) a house. Inventory is plentiful, the weather is usually pretty nice, and there is not too much of a panic and rush to get a sale finalized. There is of course the desire for families to finalize a purchase and be moved in before the start of the school year.
Since more people are shopping for homes in the spring, just like you, that means if you fall in love with a property, you may find yourself in a bidding war. Prices will be higher the earlier in the spring that they are listed, as sellers don’t start to get too worried about slashing prices unless buyers stop viewing the home.
New MLS listings are usually posted in April. If the competition doesn’t bother you, it’s probably the premiere month to have access to the most selection.
To recap, spring and summer are the most popular times of year to purchase a home, giving the buyer the most selection, but usually a higher price tag. The patient buyer, who doesn’t mind moving in potentially bad weather, can hold out for fall or even later in the winter to land a fantastic deal.
The real estate market will always fluctuate. The best time to buy a home will always be when your budget, and your needs align.