It’s amazing what happens in just one year. In real estate this is especially true. At the beginning of the Winter season every year there is always someone wanting to know the answer to the age old question: “Is Winter a good time to buy a home?” The answer to that question changes quite frequently, although some agents when asked will always hit you with a strong “yes! of course now is a good time to buy and sell!”. It really depends on your circumstances. Here are 5 things to consider about buying a home in the winter.
Statistically speaking, home prices drop a bit during the winter months. Zero people call me in July and say, “yeah, Justin, we want to put our home on the market in December right around Christmas.” Life happens, and sometimes people have to move, so anyone putting their home on the market during the winter months most likely is in a situation where they have to sell. This makes them motivated. I am not saying that you can go around taking advantage of people that are in a tough spot. People that have to sell during the winter months will often price their homes lower for a quick sale. The only other homes that would be on the market in the winter are those that are still on the market from being listed earlier in the year. And I would say that those people are probably ready to take an offer.
Do not be fooled and think that you are the only shopper during the winter months. There are some people that have been looking for a home all summer, and they have gotten really good at responding quickly to their Realtor’s cue. They will jump at the first sign of a decent home and steal it right out from under you. This inventory shortage is still creating bidding wars on certain properties. Make sure your Realtor isn’t sleeping or drinking too much egg nog to show you the homes just as fast as they hit the market.
The circumstances mentioned above might cause you to get an itchy trigger finger. Make sure that your Realtor is running comps and checking value on the homes you are viewing. If it’s worth the price, pay it! If it’s not worth it, don’t waste your time. But don’t just jump on it because it is a house in your price range. It shouldn’t take your Realtor long to figure out if it is overpriced or not.
Right before the end of the year is a great time for schedule flexibility. If you are a person that has a flexible work schedule around the holidays, this will help you! I believe that it is very important to view homes in the daylight and drive by them at night time. Since it gets dark so early during the winter months, it’s important to view homes during the day. When you can, drive by them on the way home from work to see how the neighborhood is in the evening. Flexibility is always an advantage to a home buyer, but especially in the winter.
Provided that your loan officer isn’t hiding under a rock somewhere when you buy your home, lenders can typically get the loan though underwriting much faster in the winter than they would during the summer. The lower volume of loans allows for smoother transactions. The last two homes I sold both closed during the first week of December, and both of them closed in under 27 days. For this to hold true, though, you need a good *local* lender and they need to be aware of holidays and special hours that could cause delays in underwriting.
As long as you have a quality, local expert Realtor who knows your needs and desires, and looks out for your best interest, you should be able to buy a home with ease in any season!
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