Most homebuyers tend to make their purchases in the spring and summer, when trees are flowering and blue skies provide a beautiful background for real estate, but buying in the winter can offer more personalized service and heightened awareness of potential issues.
Amy McKoy moved to an apartment in August 2011, and she decided a few months later that it was time to find a house. After scouring the market, she and her husband found a house that met their needs and decided that winter was the time to buy.
“We wanted to snatch the house up before someone else got it,” McKoy jokes.
In reality, buying a home in the winter months limits competition, as fewer people are willing to commit to a move in the cold. As a result, sellers often lower their prices during this stagnant seasonal market, which may play to a buyer’s favor by bringing more homes into an affordable price range. And, since fewer people are looking to buy, Realtors can dedicate more of their time to individual preferences.
“Our Realtor was very attentive and wanted to make sure we got the house we wanted,” McKoy says. “Plus, the sellers were cooperative, too. They installed new appliances and made some repairs to help facilitate the sale.”
A more amenable market isn’t the only reason to consider buying during the off-season. Exterior problems can stand out more prominently when they’re not masked by summer flora. Also, homes often require owners to “winterize” them for protection against inclement weather. If sellers take the time to store window air conditioning units, protect their outdoor equipment, and remove debris from the gutters and driveway, then they are more likely to have performed routine maintenance on their home during the rest of year, a sign that post-purchase repairs could be fewer. Ultimately, of course, the decision comes down to whether the house meets the buyer’s needs.
“We were sure of what we wanted and unwilling to settle for less,” McKoy says. “Everything worked out just right with our cold-season home purchase.”