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The Perks of Winter Home-Buying

Posted by Johnine Larsen on November 30, 2019
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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.

 

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    Ilona Lohrey
    00:23 30 Jun 20
    We had the great pleasure of working with Darcie to find an investment property. It was important for us to work with a real estate company that is also a GSBA member and shows their commitment to equality. Darcie was fast, reliable and fun to work with. She knew exactly what we were looking for... and what was important to us. The property has since increased its value by 20%. From beginning to end, it was an easy process. Thanks Real Estate Gals and especially Darcie. We will definitely work with you again for our next real estate needs.read more
    Danielle Thirumalai
    Danielle Thirumalai
    04:18 26 Jun 20
    Top notch team - the kind of people you work with over a lifetime and send holiday cards. Knowledgable team who want you to buy a great house, not just turn a commission. We have asked for advice on houses multiple times and they are always willing to share their opinion. Johnine even worked with... us while on vacation in New Zealand when we found a fixer-upper we were exploring.read more
    Sandy Ruffin
    Sandy Ruffin
    01:21 25 Jun 20
    Johnine and her team were amazing to work with. Johnine took a lot of time to understand what we needed and how to help us find the right home, and she's pretty fun to shop for houses with. Will absolutely work with them again if we ever sell our house.
    Marian DiPerna, LMP
    Marian DiPerna, LMP
    22:19 24 Jun 20
    We had such a great experience buying our first home with Johnine - she was knowledgeable, patient, and knew exactly when to give us some direction and when to step back. We were thoroughly pleased with our purchase and have been in our home for over 10 years now. We give her name to all of our... friends who are looking to buy or sell!read more
    Johannes James
    Johannes James
    21:23 24 Jun 20
    The Real Estate Gals were a great team to have on our [buyers'] side when we purchased a home last year. I have read and strongly disagree with the negative review left below. We worked with both Johnine and Scott, who both expended a lot of effort and time to understand what we were looking for... in a home - which was a challenge due to our multi-family needs with preferences for large scale project space, but close to work in Seattle and in a tight budget. They quickly and accurately gauged what would work for us and helped us sift through the options with frank and straightforward feedback. When the perfect house finally turned up at the end of a long day touring around King County with us, they then burned some serious midnight oil slamming together the aggressive and fast-tracked offer that turned out to be critical for us securing our home. From my perspective, I cannot overstate the value of having a buyer's agent actually care enough to go these extra miles. I wouldn't be writing this from such a perfect home if it weren't for this team. I can only imagine these qualities have made them even better as agents during the pandemic. The Real Estate Gals will always have our gratitude - thanks especially to Johnine and Scott!read more
    Susan Waller
    Susan Waller
    20:34 24 Jun 20
    I bought my first house with the Real Estate Gals many years ago. As a first time buyer, I was anxious and unfamiliar with the process. They walked me through it, and were there every step of the way. I have since bought (and sold) three more houses with the Gals, and it was a great experience... every time. They are highly respected throughout the industry, and know how to put together a winning offer. I wouldn't work with anyone else!read more
    Shannon McFarlin
    Shannon McFarlin
    18:56 24 Jun 20
    Hands down, Johnine Larsen and team are the best realtors I've ever worked with. I've never met a realtor so knowledgeable about the process, the market, and skilled at helping clients manage the stressful feelings that come up during such an important life event. We have worked with Johnine... through several transactions and felt she was an excellent advocate for us, extremely responsive and supportive, steered us in the right direction (including away from houses that weren't right for us!), helped us understand so many important things to be aware of when buying a home, and negotiated the best deal for us every time. On top of that, she's very real and authentic - we always knew she was telling us her true opinion and thoughts, and is an amazing, warm and caring person, which is all so important when you are spending so much time together!read more
    Virginia Bunker
    Virginia Bunker
    14:08 14 Feb 20
    Johnine Larsen and her team are absolutely fabulous. I've bought and sold many properties over the years, and Real Estate Gals surpassed all of my previous experiences with agents. Johnine designed the perfect selling strategy. She then handled every detail leading up to the day we listed,... including cleaning, yard work, repairs, staging and more! Johnine has a heart of gold, and I can't say enough great things about my experience. Thank you!read more
    linda wright
    linda wright
    00:45 04 Dec 19
    I have bought and sold many homes in my forty plus years of being a Seattleite and I couldn't be more pleased with the way Johnine Larsen and her team handled the sale of my previous home. I moved into my new place and they took it from there. Contacted the right people to do the minor repairs at... a reasonable cost, staged the home, and had professional photos done within a few weeks. The sale went smoothly as well. I am so thankful that I found her.read more
    Paddy Lazar
    Paddy Lazar
    23:42 03 Dec 19
    I was lucky enough to work with Johnine and her very competent team to sell my home. I have to tell you how easy the entire process was. On her wise suggestion I had my home inspected, as there actually were a number of maintenance items that came up in that inspection and she even arranged to have... all of the repairs completed in a very short time. The only thing I had to do was to let the repair folks in. Then, to my surprise, Johnine , had all the windows and the whole house cleaned before listing it. She then had the house beautifully staged and had the yard cleaned up with even a little landscaping thrown in. The house sold within the week for OVER full price! Everyone I dealt with was always kind, helpful and professional, their communication was exemplary all through the process. I’ve decided to rent for a while but you can be assured that it will be Johnine and her team that I will go back to when ready to purchase a new house. I have sung her praises to all that I know.read more
    soumak ghosh
    soumak ghosh
    00:00 14 Nov 19
    They were representing the seller and I was the buyer. Very limited communication from the agents. Waited days for a response for any email/text. Would eventually get a response after multiple follow ups. Almost cost us the deal. [Update] I have seen all the text/conversations of my agent with... your agency. Regarding the oil tank decommissioning, according to the contract, the tank was to be decommissioned 5 days before closing. When asked about so 5 days before closing ( which I have seen the text/email conversations of), you gave my agent very little to no information about it and even said it was on schedule. It was only after my agent called the oil decommissioning company that we got know that it was not even scheduled to decommission it 2 day before closing. Any buyer who was not as intent on buying the property could have walked away due to breach of contract. We got the final documentation 2 hours before the end of closing. It was only after I wrote the review that your agents became responsive. P.S. If you find my review unjust I’m sure it would be overshadowed by stellar reviews from future customers.read more
    Sarah Donaldson
    Sarah Donaldson
    18:44 18 Jul 19
    Darcie was such a joy to work with. She felt like family during the sale of our house and the search for our new home. We may have found our forever home, but if we ever need a Realtor in future, Darcie from Real Estate Gals will be our first call.
    Brian Heagler
    Brian Heagler
    16:55 02 Jun 19
    I have worked with Johnine and her team for 19 years and have always received personal, knowledgeable and professional service and attention! There is never and pressure and they will guide you away from a property when appropriate, which is always appreciated when a market is hot and the tendency... is to move quickly. I trust them and have never been let down!read more
    Anne Slater
    Anne Slater
    18:03 25 May 19
    Johnine Larsen is fabulous! She listened and came up with ways we could get what we wanted in a house and stay within our limited budget. When we found the house we wanted, she moved super fast to get the house inspected and implemented creative ideas to make our offer appealing. And out of 13... offers, we were selected and got our house. I recommend her to anyone buying a home.read more
    Amy Burdick
    Amy Burdick
    19:13 24 May 19
    Real Estate Gals made sure we found our perfect house! Then, when we were up against other bidders, Johnine worked tirelessly to ensure we were tops! Her extensive real estate experience combined with exceptional character and integrity provided peace of mind throughout the process. She also made... sure we received the right value as a seller and got the transaction done quickly and efficiently. Simply stated: there is nobody better to help you find your dream home.read more
    Bill Hollman
    Bill Hollman
    22:21 19 May 19
    I'd give Real Estate Gals 6 stars if I could. We have used them multiple times, both in selling and buying homes in Seattle and the surrounding area. I can't say enough about the professionalism, knowledge, and patience they bring to the task of buying a new home, or selling your current... residence. And they know the Seattle area so well, they'll offer valuable insights into the pros and cons of any location you may be to considering. Look no further, call Johnine at Real Estate Gals. You will be glad you did!read more
    Beth Guerra
    Beth Guerra
    01:14 18 May 19
    Johnine was a breath of fresh air in the real estate market. She listened intently to our wishes and goals, and was tireless in her search for our perfect house. She is well versed in both Seattle and the surrounding areas. She made sure all the details were taken care of after the inspection, and... made the closing process seamless. She even gifted us with a housewarming present. Nearly 7 years later, we still receive holiday cards and well wishes. I highly recommend Real Estate Gals and will look no further in the future.read more
    Aidan Key
    Aidan Key
    15:44 17 May 19
    Johnine and the Real Estate Gals brilliantly took us through the home buying process two different times. Their willingness to educate (I was new), hear our home hopes, and support us through the process are a few of the reasons that I highly recommend this team. Speaking of a team, I love their... collaborative business model - it meant that we--the home buyers--always had a returned phone call and an ability to look at a house on OUR schedule. Truly felt like they place the customer first!read more
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