Home buyers often ask us if buying in the winter is a good idea. The truth is, shopping for a home during the winter months is great for two reasons:
There are fewer buyers to compete with for homes
Sellers are more likely to take a lower offer, especially in early winter.
Advantages of Buying a Home During the Winter
Winter home sellers may need to sell during this time of year because of a new job offer or plans to move to another state. The fact that they are putting their homes on the market when most other people are getting ready for the holidays is good news for you. Most sellers who put their home on the market during the winter rather than in the busier spring market are more motivated and more likely to accept less.
Less Competition from Other Buyers
Fewer buyers searching for homes means you won’t get outbid on the home you want. We often see multiple offer situations during the spring because of the surge of buyers entering the market, which can drive up the price of a home. With less competition this is less likely to happen.
Motivated sellers will often price their homes to sell during the winter. This is a great time to find houses that have had price adjustments or are value priced to sell faster. Just remember to have realistic expectations: you won’t see rock bottom prices on homes, but you will see some great deals on homes during this season.
Seeing the Heating Systems in Action
One of the benefits of buying during the winter is that you can get an accurate idea of whether the home’s heating, plumbing, and drainage systems are running efficiently and working properly. Buyers may even be able to detect issues with leaks or cold spots that aren’t as obvious in the warmer months.
Faster Mortgage Approval
This time of year lenders aren’t as busy, so this could mean faster approval for you. With fewer buyers applying for mortgages, there aren’t as many loans in the process so your mortgage lender may get back to you sooner. You may even close sooner than you would if you shopped for a home in spring.
Tips for Buying a House in the Winter
Don’t be scared away if the home is heated by oil. In recent years oil burners have come a long way with regard to energy efficiency and cost of use. Ask for copies of the heating bills for the last couple of years to determine the average cost to heat the home. Remember that energy costs are rising for many types of fuels, and you have the option of shopping around to find an oil delivery company that offers the best prices.
Make the best use of your time and schedule viewing homes during daylight hours whenever possible. During winter months it can get dark as soon as 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Give yourself enough time so can see how much light the interior rooms get during the day, how well the yard is maintained, and be able to walk around to a good view of the exterior of the home.
Be prepared that snow or bad weather can cause issues that neither the seller nor the agent can control. Poor weather may cause a cancellation of your showing. And be aware that if there is snow on the roof there may little or no information on the condition of the roof during a roof inspection.
Some home sellers may ask buyers to remove their shoes during showings in the winter so salt and sand isn’t tracked throughout the house. Be flexible—after all, this might be your future home so you’ll want to protect those floors as much as the current owner!