When is the best time to buy a home?
More choices and higher prices when the weather is warm
Spring and summer are prime homebuying seasons and it’s easy to understand why. Better weather in many parts of the country make it easier to visit homes for sale and easier to move once you’ve bought one. Families with school-age children like to move over the summer so they don’t disrupt their kids’ educations. And many sellers like having their houses on the market in the summer, since properties typically show better when the weather is good. Which means homebuyers can have lots of choices.
But the upsides of the spring and summer housing market come with downsides. The major downside of buying a house in the summer is that you are likely to pay more for a house you want. There are usually more houses for sale during the warmer months but there are also more homebuyers bidding on them. And sellers are often less willing to negotiate on price or make other concessions to sell their houses because they think there are other buyers who will agree to their terms.
Don’t let that deter you if you are ready to buy a home! There are some advantages to home buying in another season that you may want to consider.
Advantages of buying a house in the fall or winter
When you are looking to get the best price on a new home, buying in the fall and winter can be a better bet. There are often fewer homes on the market compared to the spring and summer. But sellers can be more motivated to make a deal particularly when they listed their house in the spring and it still hasn’t sold.
Homeowners can be motivated to close sales during the fall because they often want the deal done before the holiday season begins. They can be motivated by tax reasons too. Sellers might want to realize a gain or loss during the current year, which means they need to close before December 31. The return of bad weather in colder parts of the country can be an incentive. And you’ll face less competition from other buyers who are out of the market because of the school year or other reasons.
The winter is like the fall but even more so. Inventory is typically at its lowest point. There can be few houses for sale during the winter. But there are even fewer buyers bidding on houses than in the fall and sellers can be even more ready to cut a deal. For example, some sellers who list their houses in the winter may be moving because they are changing jobs. These kinds of sellers often want to sell their houses sooner.
Want less competition? Try buying a house around the holiday season
Real estate professionals talk about how right around holidays are great times to make offers on houses. That’s because most other buyers are taking time off from house hunting, which leaves the door open for you. If you catch a seller at the right time with a fair price and no other bids on the table, they might just say yes.
Mortgage rates and local housing markets matter too
Seasonal variations aren’t the only factors that affect when the best times are to buy a house. One factor is mortgage interest rates. When rates are falling, houses become more affordable because it is cheaper to borrow the money you need to buy them. When rates are rising, the opposite is true. Mortgages become more expensive which makes buying a house more expensive too.
The overall state of the economy matters. And the housing market in the community where you want to buy can make a huge difference. If there are lots of houses for sale in the town where you want to live, that can be a great time to buy. You can have lots of choices plus bargaining power on price. If there are few houses for sale and demand is high, you might decide to wait.
When is the best time to buy a house? When you are ready
All this said, the best time to buy a house is when you can afford it and are ready to own a home. For a quick estimate of how much house you might be able to buy, check out our mortgage affordability calculator. Our calculator will help you understand the price of homes you may be able to afford and the monthly mortgage payments that come with them.
Freedom Mortgage Corporation is not a financial advisor. The ideas outlined above are for informational purposes only, are not intended as investment or financial advice, and should not be construed as such.
Last reviewed and updated March 2023 by Freedom Mortgage Corporation.