As with anything, there are busier and slower times to the real estate markets. Spring and summer are often bustling, while autumn and winter can be considered “off season” by many. If you are in the market for a new home, though, there can be distinct advantages to purchasing in the fall and winter.
- You may be able to find a good deal. Homes that were listed in the spring and summer are sometimes overpriced in the excitement of the busy season. Those that remain for sale may now be priced more equitably or even under-priced as sellers become more anxious to sell.
- You may have less competition in the home buying arena. Most people with younger children want to buy prior to the beginning of the school year. Millennials, singles, baby boomers, and those without children can use this to their advantage.
- Sellers are generally highly motivated at this time of year. They usually would like to sell before the holiday season is in full swing and they may be trying to take advantage of a tax gain or loss before year end.
- Homes often don’t show as well as they do in spring and summer. The landscaping isn’t as vibrant and again this often motivates sellers. However, the lack of landscaping is a distinct advantage to the buyer as it is much more difficult to hide a house’s flaws behind the foliage and plant life. You are far more likely to be able to see any cracks or other defects in the façade.
What are some things you need to consider when purchasing a home in the fall or winter?
- Be sure to check on things that you might normally forget in the fall and winter – like the air conditioner. Remember to ask about it – does the house have one, is it in good working condition, how old is it? Look it over and see if the filter has been changed recently, does it appear to be in good condition or is it beginning to rust, does it make funny noises when turned on? Check out the ductwork and vents – is air flowing through evenly?
- Think about the drainage system. Even in fall and winter, you may still be able to see areas of water pooling which could indicate a problem.
- Consider the slope of the driveway. How easily is it navigated on an icy day? Check out the sidewalk and walkway to your home. Also look at the pitch of the yard. Are there any slopes heading towards the house? This could mean trouble in the spring when the snow begins to melt as it could drain right into your basement and cause flooding.
- Remember that if you purchase a property with a body of water – living on the edge of a lake or having a pond on your land – that water will attract more insects such as mosquitoes. Just something to consider before purchasing as you won’t see those bugs in the winter when you’re looking at the property.
- What are the windows like? Fortunately, in fall and winter, you are likely to be able to check them out for how well they keep drafts out of the home. Unfortunately, if you discover an issue in the fall, you may not have time to have it taken care of and new windows installed before winter.
- Check out the roof. If it’s covered by snow, ask for documentation of how recently it has been replaced and of course, have your home inspector check this out for you as well. If the home has a fireplace, be sure to check out the chimney as well.
- Which way does the house face? It’s hard to tell how much light you will get coming into your home and to your gardens in the fall and winter when it tends to be overcast anyway. Take a compass in with you and find out for sure!
- Speaking of the lack of light in fall and winter, try to schedule your visit during the day when you can properly see the house and any of its flaws.
Although there are factors you need to consider when making a home purchase in the fall or winter, there can certainly be some advantages to it as well that make it well worthwhile.