If you’re searching for a home — especially if you’re a first-time buyer — it’s natural to wonder what the best time of year to buy a house is. Seasonal fluctuations in the housing market make the answer to this question a little more complex than some may expect: Although the brisk spring and summer months offer greater inventory, buying in the fall or winter may yield better deals and less competition in highly sought-after areas.
If you’re ready to buy a home, you should start the process no matter what the calendar says — it may take months for you to get a handle on the local market and find the neighborhood that’s right for you. A home purchase is a large investment, and chances are you won’t regret spending too much time on your search.
That said, understanding the reasons why home prices and inventory fluctuate can help you make a smarter home purchase. In a hot market, delaying your decision could result in missed opportunities or further price increases. Alternatively, if you’re searching for a home in winter, when fewer listings are available, you may not find exactly what you want. Here’s an overview of some key home buying factors to keep in mind across the different seasons of the year.
Spring and Summer: Lots of Options, Higher Prices
It’s no secret that many people prefer to move in the spring and summer months, when the weather is warmer and kids are out of school. According to data reported by the Federal Reserve Bank, the greatest inventory for existing home sales in 2017 was available in the spring and summer months, which is consistent with historical trends.
Median home prices also tend to rise during this time of year — in 2017, home prices peaked from May to August — so it can be harder to a bargains. Since there’s more market activity in the warmer months, sellers may hold out for a better offer. On the other hand, there are more options for buyers during this time of year.
Fall and Winter: Less Inventory, Better Deals
Still, not everyone has the option of hunting for their home when the weather is nicest and the timing is the most convenient. If you have to transfer jobs, for instance, you may find yourself looking for homes right after school starts or in the middle of winter.
In the colder months, housing inventory tends to decrease and fewer people are looking for homes, so sellers can be highly motivated to get a deal done. This trend explains the dip in prices typically seen at this time of year, especially during January and February, giving buyers the opportunity to make an offer on a home when the market is less competitive.
To add another layer of nuance, there are some outside variables that can impact the effects of seasonality on housing markets across the country. Location is one of these factors: Certain U.S. regions, such as the Northeast and the Midwest, tend to be more affected by seasonal shifts than other areas. Depending on where you’re looking, the best time of year to buy a house may not be what you expect. Exceptions do exist, especially in areas where buyers are not as reliant on school schedules, such as vacation resort towns.
If you’re looking to purchase a home soon, the best way to achieve success is to arm yourself with knowledge of the local market. Spend time looking at listings online, drive through neighborhoods and tour homes that you think might be a good fit for you. Set a budget and look at what’s available in your price range. When you’re ready to buy, a general awareness of seasonal fluctuations in the market may be one of many factors you take into account before submitting and pricing an offer.
To start the process, check Owners.com for the most up-to-date listings in your city.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Owners.com, Altisource or any other Altisource® business or entity. The foregoing content is not intended to constitute, and in fact does not constitute, financial, investment, tax or legal advice by the author, Owners.com, Altisource or any other business or entity.
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