PRINT E-MAIL SHARE
 

Is there a best season to buy a house?

  • Is there a best season to buy a house?

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | February 24, 2016

    New homeowners getting their keys

    The housing market, like most things, is influenced by cyclical changes. It's affected by the job market, financial markets, interest rates, and the local economy. But there are also seasonal shifts that impact the home buying process, including the price you pay for your new home. Here's a look at the pros and cons of house-hunting in each season.

  • Pros to buying a home in winter

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | February 24, 2016

    Winter pros

    A home covered in snow

    • With impending holidays and poor weather conditions, people take time off from house-hunting, resuming again in Spring. Less competition means sellers are motivated. You'll get more focused treatment, and a more flexible price, if a house remains on the market over the holidays.
    • This is the slow season, so realtors have more time to dedicate to you. You'll get more attention and better service.
    • In dark days of mid-winter, you'll see a property at its worst - which has a hidden upside. If you love a house in February, you'll seriously love it the rest of the year. You'll also get a realistic view of the home's major systems, like the heating system, roof, gutters, and plumbing. Any exterior and landscaping issues will be evident when they leaves are down and snow is on the ground.
  • Cons to buying a home in winter

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | February 24, 2016

    Winter cons

    Bleak winter street

    • With sellers also taking a holiday break, there's a lack of inventory. What's on the market may be leftovers that didn't sell earlier in the year.
    • Bad weather makes it difficult to visit prospective homes. It also makes it harder for inspectors to do their work. And some aspects of the property, like the grass, might be completely hidden. You could be buying them sight unseen.
  • Pros to buying a home in spring

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | February 24, 2016

    Spring pros

    Vintage home in the sunshine

    • There's more inventory to choose from. That's great if you're looking for a particular neighborhood, or for specific home features.
    • If you have a family, spring is a great time to purchase a home. You can move in summer, when kids are off from school, making the transition much easier.
  • Cons to buying a home in spring

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | February 24, 2016

    Spring cons

    For sale signs

    • With more buyers on the market, there's more competition. There's less room for negotiation when more buyers are available, and there's a greater chance you'll end up in a bidding war.
    • This is the busiest time of year for home sales. Realtors will have limited time, and will give priority to qualified clients, pre-approved for mortgages. If you plan to house-hunt in Spring, have your ducks in a row, and be proactive.
  • Pros to buying a home in summer

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | February 24, 2016

    Summer pros

    Summer by the pool

    • With lush grass and blooming flowers, most properties look their best in summer. People will be out and about, and you can get a sense of the community as a whole.
    • Kids are out of school. Buying a house and moving in the summer is a much easier transition if you have a family.
  • Cons to buying a home in summer

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | February 24, 2016

    Summer cons

    Woman worried about money

    • Because summer is the most popular time for house-hunting, prices and competition are high. You won't have the same decision-making time you do in fall or winter. If you see something you love, be ready to move, or it may get snapped up by someone else.
    • Summer is the most popular time to move, so moving companies charge the highest rates. If you must move in summertime, aim for mid-month, as the beginning and end of the month (when leases expire) are the busiest.
  • Pros to buying a home in fall

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | February 24, 2016

    Fall pros

    Porch decorated for fall

    • While home inventory isn't as high as in spring, there's still enough selection. And sellers are more motivated as the year draws to a close. You might score a real deal.
    • You can take advantage of homeowner tax breaks. Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can take for your whole year's worth of income, even if you closed on your home in December.
    • The weather is great. With a mixture of warm and cool days, you'll see a home under a variety of circumstances as you journey through the buying process.
  • Cons to buying a home in fall

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | February 24, 2016

    Fall cons

    Broken roof

    • Fewer hours of daylight means less time to view properties before dark obscures the exterior. You may have to block out time on weekends for house-hunting efforts.
    • Cooler weather brings higher utilities bills. With all the other costs associated with buying and moving, you'll also experience your new home's highest expenses of the year. And, if you're buying a fixer-upper, the investment curve on improvements could be steep. A new roof really can't wait until spring. Be prepared to continue bleeding money for a few months after you close.

    So, which season is the best for home buying? It really depends on your circumstances. Each season has its own advantages and disadvantages. Understanding where the market is in its seasonal cycle will help you make the most out of the home buying process.