Should You Go House Hunting in the Winter?
Generally, houses are offered for rent or sale on the real estate market every day. You can begin house hunting whenever you can afford the rent or market price, and feel the need to move. It is recommended that you start this process at least 4-6 weeks in advance of your intended move-in date.
Many people believe that the best time to find a new home is in the spring and summer and that you’re not likely to find good housing at other times of the year, but this is not necessarily true. In fact, winter is considered a desirable season to search for a property and get it a fair market price.
Here are some reasons to start your house search this winter:
1. Low competition
Considering that the bulk of home buyers rush to find new homes in spring and summer－just before school starts－you will likely be among a minority of people looking to buy a home in the winter. Families avoid moving in the middle of the school year. So while they’re engaged in sports and holidays, and as people generally begin to become less active as the days get shorter and colder, you have an edge if you go house hunting in the winter.
This offers several advantages, including having more time to look at each property and negotiate a favourable deal that will give you the most value for money. Moreover, you will have an easier time narrowing down your options and visiting each place individually. There’s also heightened opportunity of getting a suitable property from spring and summer buyers who were not able to close before August as they will likely exit the market until the following year.
Generally, any sellers who put their homes on the market in the winter are generally serious about making the sale, which also makes them more flexible for negotiations with serious buyers. More importantly, if there’s a nice property that you noticed during summer that is still available in the winter, then you have much more leverage to purchase it at a discount. As a rule, the longer a property sits on the market, the more willing the seller usually is to bargain for a sale, which gives you more negotiating power.
Even if the property has been listed in the winter, you can still get a good and quick sale because the seller is typically motivated to sell. Otherwise, they would have waited until the next spring or summer to put it on the market.
3. Affordable housing
Research shows that October is the best month to get a good deal when purchasing a property. According to data obtained by Realtytrac on over 32 million home sales collected over a 15 year period, winter month home buyers tend to pay an average of 2% lower than the estimated market value of the property. This discount remains until February and then drops back down in the spring and summer.
Conversely, data shows that the worst month to buy a home is in April, as you’re likely to spend an average of 1.2% more than the estimated current market value. So buying your home in the winter gives you the best chance to enjoy discounts on the current market value.
4. Approaching holidays
Winter marks the beginning of many holidays where families get to host their relatives for various celebrations, including Christmas. Home sellers will be looking to sell any property and settle down in their new house fast, so they can get things in order before the celebrations begin. This pre-holiday window creates an opportunity to enjoy great deals that you can take advantage of to purchase great property at a discount.
During these months of lower competition and a much slower pace in the housing market, it will be easier for you to negotiate price, make the right decision on a house you truly love as well as get the best deals on moving services since it’s also their off-season.
5. Quality time with professionals for first-time homebuyers
Besides the changing mood as the holidays approach, most professionals you engage with to close a property deal, including a real estate agent, lawyer, and mortgage broker, won't be as busy as during spring and summer, meaning they can give you their undivided attention.
Winter is an excellent time for first-time property buyers to learn about the industry. You will have more time to sit down with professionals and ask questions about costs, title transfers, due diligence, and anything else you want to learn about without stealing their time from other clients.
6. Tax benefits
Buying property towards the end of the financial year can be advantageous for investors looking to benefit from tax deductions in the next financial year. This includes property tax, closing costs, and mortgage interest, all of which can help to offset your taxable earnings.
7. Home improvement deals
If you’re looking to get new appliances or upgrade other aspects of your new home as you settle in, purchasing your home in winter is the perfect time to start anew. There are massive shopping discounts during this season, from Black Friday to Christmas and New Year deals that allow you to get furniture, appliances like stoves and refrigerators, and even major home improvement projects like door and window replacements at their cheapest. If your budget allows it, you can purchase your home and renovate it within a couple of months, so you’re fully settled in by the New Year.
House hunting in the winter can be a very successful endeavour. But you should also be aware of any possible challenges. This could include a low supply of listings, though this makes it easier to narrow down your list of top properties so you can focus on closing the deal. With fewer properties to visit, you also won’t have to worry about the colder weather that makes moving around a hassle, or the light fading, which reduces the number of houses you can see in a day, especially if you need to visit them in the evening after work or one day every week.
You can take full advantage of the lower competition and slower pace in winter to mull your decision, negotiate for favorable rates, and even get cheaper moving services at their off-peak season.
For more house-hunting tips, call Spectrum Realty at (416) 736-6500 or contact us here.