Real estate wisdom typically tells us that spring and summer are the prime seasons for house hunting and moving. People are more likely to get out and shop when the weather is nice. And sellers know their homes and yards look better when they're not buried in snow. However, there also are some very compelling reasons to buy a home and move during the winter months.
Less Competition Among Buyers
The most obvious benefit of buying and moving in the winter is exactly because real estate wisdom says to shop in the spring and summer. There will generally be fewer buyers during the winter months because not as many people are willing to go house hunting in bad weather. This means less competition. Thus, the chances of running into multiple offers on a single property will be greatly reduced. So if you’re looking to lock down your next dream home—or simply invest in some new property—the winter can be a prime time to do so.
When you have fewer buyers in the market, supply exceeds demand. This usually results in home prices being lower than they are during the peak real estate season. The homes are priced to sell, and buyers in the winter often enjoy the upper hand over sellers in sale negotiations. Plus, sellers are more likely to accept offers involving financing because fewer all-cash offers are on the table.
Many sellers are moving in the winter because they have to, not because they want to. A change in life circumstances often is what prompts these sellers to move, even though the market isn't in their favor. And real estate agents know the slow winter months are when sellers are more willing to negotiate, whether it is on the sale price, closing costs, or the closing date. Sellers also will try to sweeten the terms of the sale, including adding household appliances and other items, to entice buyers.
Faster Closing Times
Sellers in the winter months often will agree to a fast closing time, especially when they have life circumstances driving their move. So if you’re a buyer looking to get into a new home quickly, winter could be the time to do it. In addition, mortgage brokers often have less backup throughout the slow winter months, especially during the holiday season. Thus, your wait time is likely to be much shorter.
Attentive Real Estate Agents
Low activity during the winter months also means you’ll be able to enjoy a higher level of attention from your real estate agent. And because they’re likely not making as many sales during this time of year, that might encourage them to work a little bit harder to negotiate a sale for you. Plus, they often have more flexible availability to take you to see homes. In addition to being better for your personal schedule, this might mean you'll be able to tour a home that interests you before any competition gets in to see it.
More Flexibility With Movers
Everyone involved in the home-buying and moving process seems to have a more flexible schedule in the winter months, including professional movers. It’s certainly not easy to move in inclement weather. But it is a relief when you can book movers for exactly the time you need to be out of your old home and into your new one. Plus, movers often offer discounted rates in the winter to drum up business. Just be aware that you might have to reschedule if your moving date ends up falling during a massive blizzard.
A Chance to See How the Home Withstands the Cold
When the temperature is comfortable outside, it’s hard to tell how a home will stand up to the elements. But if you house hunt in the chilly winter months, you can see how well the house is insulated and spot issues you wouldn't have noticed when it’s warm out. For instance, note any drafty windows or doors. See where ice tends to build up. And consider whether you really want to shovel that long driveway. The seller might even be willing to fix some of the leaks or other weather-proofing issues. So put on your coat, brave the cold, and get to house hunting.