You hear a lot about buying a home in the spring and summer — the so-called “hot” times to buy. But what few home buyers know? Buying in those times actually might work against you.
With more competitive, higher prices and less available agents, lenders, and other vendors, buying in prime time might not be as smart a move as you’d hope.
Buying in the off-season, though? That can have serious benefits — especially on your bottom line.
Is buying a home on your radar? Here are 10 key reasons buying a home in the off-season is wise:
- Houses are more affordable.
Because fewer people are in the market for a home, sellers are more desperate, and they’re often forced to drop their prices in order to get noticed. According to Zillow research, that equates to saving about $3,100. Buyers who purchase in the spring and summer? They pay about $1,500 more. November through February are typically the most affordable times to buy.
- There’s more room to negotiate.
Along the same lines, sellers might be fed up with having their home on the market. With few bids and nothing to show after months of marketing, showings, and open houses, many sellers are ready to throw in the towel (or maybe some extra closing costs?) Buyers usually have the upper hand this time of year, giving them more room to negotiate — both on price and concessions.
- Vendors are more available.
When there are lots of buyers on the market, real estate vendors are swamped. Mortgage lenders have slower closing times, the best agents become unavailable, and title companies see delays and hold-ups. Home inspectors may even be booked up. In the off-season, buyers become the center of attention. In most cases, they have their pick of who to work with — and when. Often, they even see faster home search and closing times as a result.
- Holiday sales help with move-in.
Going to need new furniture or decor for that new home? With all the holiday sales and specials going on (as well as Black Friday and those New Year’s inventory blowouts), there’s plenty of opportunities to save. Buyers can save on everything from rugs and art work to couches, dishware, and even mattresses by buying in the winter. You might even put some of those items on your Christmas list (and get them free!)
- There are tax advantages.
If you buy before the year-end, there are significant tax advantages to buying a home — especially if you’re a first-time buyer. You’ll be eligible to deduct any mortgage insurance or property taxes you pay on the home, and you may be able to write off certain closing or moving costs, too, depending on your state.
- You can see the home at its worst.
If you want to make sure a home can withstand the harsh winter weather, isn’t seeing in winter an important step? Home shopping in winter can allow you to see properties at their worst. How do they hold up to the cold? What do they look like when the grass isn’t lush and the sun isn’t shining? If you still love the home, you’ve found a winner.
- You can take your time.
When you buy in the spring and summer, time is of the essence. If you even have the slightest inkling that you like a property, you have to act fast and put in an offer right away. Otherwise, you risk losing the house to another buyer. In the off-season, you have the luxury of time. With fewer buyers to compete with, you can sit back and really think about potential properties before taking any action. It’s a perk buyers most times of year just don’t have.
- Move-in dates may be flexible.
Since properties aren’t flying off the shelves in wintertime (and sellers are more desperate for your bids), you might have more wiggle room on move-in dates as well. This is great if you’re looking to move after the holidays or once you sell your former priority.
- Cheaper moving costs and repair projects.
With fewer homeowners on the market for movers, moving vans and packing supplies, nearly all aspects of moving (and moving in) get cheaper. If you’re in need of repairs or quick renovations before or after move-in, local contractors and handymen are likely more affordable, too. It’s a win-win from every angle.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there are some huge benefits to buying a home in the so-called off-season. From lower costs and more desperate sellers to better access to mortgage lenders, agents and home inspectors, winter comes with a whole slew of advantages for those willing to brave the chilly weather. Contact a loan officer at Embrace Home Loans today to get pre-approved for your winter home search.