Every time this season rolls around, things get quieter for us. Especially this year, when our plentiful listing season stretched all the way through the fall. Now we’re finally catching our breath, and we’re ready to bring on board some home-buyers.
Winter just might be THE best time to buy a house. It’s cold, sure, but you’ve got less competition, more time off, a readymade trial-by-climate proof test, and—best of all—lower prices.
All I Want for Christmas
Looking for a house in December, January, and February goes against “popular wisdom,” which works in a buyer’s favor. January and February account for less than 6% of home sales, so without much competition, most buyers can avoid bidding wars. After almost thirty years of helping people find homes, I can say with confidence that multiple offer scenarios are some of the hardest emotional positions a buyer will ever face. A buyer needs to love a house in order to make an offer, but she needs to also resist blowing past her budget to win the bidding war. Seeing someone else buy your dream house hurts—which makes home-shopping in the wintertime so much better.
I’ll See Homes for Christmas
Buyers often have time to see homes during the winter, despite the holiday chaos (going against popular wisdom is a theme in this post). If you aren’t traveling long distances or entertaining company for the holidays, you might find yourself with all sorts of time on your hands. Teachers and other school employees get two weeks off, and many other workers find themselves having to use up mandatory time off. But this extra time applies most to those dark January and February weekends when you can’t go hiking or boating or picnicking. Cabin fever starts to set in. My favorite remedy? Explore other cabins.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
It’s easy to make a house look charming in the summer. Summer sellers have sunlight, greenery, and warm temperatures playing in their favor—whereas winter sellers don’t get anything but drab colors and dark evenings. All those cute fresh flowers out front have died. The trees have dropped their leaves, and you see just how much (or little) privacy the home provides. Buyers in the winter see a home as it truly is. And once inside, a buyer can easily find air leaks in windows and doors—places where the cold, winter air creeps inside.
Another often overlooked bonus: you’re on the alert for winter parking problems. Is the house on a steep, icy hill? On those rare days when Seattle gets snow, do snowplows clean up the street early, or is it last on the list? How close to the house can you (and your guests) park, and how’s that cold winter walk between the front door and your vehicle?
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Lower home prices go along with reduced competition, but the payoff is so good that I thought it deserved its own section. Nationwide, winter homebuyers save about 7 percent compared to spring buyers. On top of that, you might be able to lock in a low interest rate on your mortgage before the new year starts (this one depends on all sorts of factors, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind as you talk with your mortgage lender—and with us! We’re happy to recommend a variety of trustworthy lenders we regularly work with).
Buying a home in the winter can save you tens of thousands of dollars, show you all a home’s potential flaws up front, fill up those drab winter weekends, and save you the stress of bidding wars. If you’ve been thinking about shopping for a home in the spring, I’d recommend pushing that timeline up a few months. Just talk to us, and we’re happy to get you started.