Best Time of Year to Buy a House
Published on MAY 14, 2023 by ROB HASTINGS
CATEGORIES: Buyer Resources | First Time Home Buyer Tips
If you are planning to move, you may be wondering: when is the best time of year to buy a house?
To be upfront, the real answer actually depends on your personal factors to include your budget, personal goals and timeline, and location preferences.
However, in this blog post, we will explore the best and worst times to buy a house based on price, competition, and inventory (collectively known as market conditions).
We will also identify some of the pros and cons of buying a house in different seasons and months so you can decide what’s best for your personal situation and real estate goals.
Let’s get started.
Worst Month to Buy a House - Spring
Spring is the busiest time of year to buy a home, but it’s also the worst time of year to buy a home.
Yes, more properties become available, but prices also go up, and competition increases. At the same time, homes do look more presentable in spring, and buyers often purchase in the spring so they can move into their new home during the summer.
According to an analysis report from ATTOM Data Solutions, May is the worst month to buy a house.
The report analyzed home sales over 9 years (39 million sales) and found that, on average, buyers paid a premium of 10.5% during the month of May. Ouch!
Let’s look at the specific pros and cons.
More Choices: You will have more homes to choose from and increased opportunities to find one that meets your needs and preferences.
Better Appearance Homes tend to look more attractive in spring as flowers come into bloom, grass turns green, “spring cleaning” gets done, and the days get longer.
Easier Transition: If you have kids, buying in spring can make it easier for them to adjust to new surroundings and neighborhood before school starts in the fall.
Higher Prices: You will likely pay a premium for buying a house in spring as demand exceeds supply and sellers have more leverage.
Increased Competition: You will face more buyers who are also looking for homes, which means you may have to act fast, make higher offers, and deal with house bidding wars.
More Stress: Buying a house in spring can be stressful. Dealing with multiple offers, tight deadlines, and waiving contingencies can make buyers feel uneasy.
Best Time of Year to Buy a Home - Fall
The best time of year to buy a home is in the fall, and more specifically, the best month to buy a house is October.
Remember that ATTOM Data Solutions report we talked about earlier? Well, according to the same report, buyers only paid a 3.3% premium in the month of October (7% less than the premium paid in May).
Generally speaking, fall is the best time of year to buy a home if you want a home buying experience with enough inventory to find a home you love, while benefiting from sellers lowering prices before the winter.
Lower Prices: You will likely get the best deal for buying a house in the fall as prices decrease as winter nears.
Less Competition: You will compete with fewer buyers who are looking for homes in fall, which means you may have more leverage and less stress when making offers and negotiating terms.
Motivated Sellers: Some sellers may be eager to sell their homes before the cold weather sets in or before the end of the year for tax reasons. They may be more willing to accept lower offers or make repairs.
Fewer Options: You may have fewer homes to choose from in the fall as inventory levels often decline after the spring and summer seasons.
Less Curb Appeal: Homes may look less appealing in fall, as leaves fall off trees, lawns turn brown, and days get shorter.
Time Pressure: You may feel pressured to buy a house quickly in the fall because you may want to move in before the winter or the holidays.
Best Season to Get a Deal - Winter
Winter is the slowest time of year to buy a home. Fewer homes are listed for sale, and there are fewer buyers looking for homes.
As a result, there is less demand from buyers, so it’s an opportunity to get a deal from sellers who aren’t getting much activity on their properties.
Winter is also a time when weather conditions can affect the availability and appearance of homes.
Lowest Prices: You will likely pay the lowest price for buying a house in the winter because demand is generally low during the holiday season.
Less Competition: You will face the least amount of competition from other buyers in the winter, which means you may have more time to make decisions, more room to negotiate, and more chances to win bidding wars (if any).
Motivated Sellers: Some sellers may be desperate to sell their homes in the winter, especially if they have been on the market for a long time or if they have financial or personal reasons to move. They may also be open to lower offers or paying buyers’ closing costs.
Low Inventory: With inventory levels generally reaching their lowest point in the year, you will have the fewest homes to choose from in the winter. It can be frustrating, and you may feel pressured to settle on a home you don’t necessarily love simply because nothing else is available.
Worst Appearance: Homes may look their worst in the winter depending on your location. You may also have less natural light and less curb appeal.
Weather Challenges: Buying a house in the winter can be challenging depending on your location and associated weather conditions.
Best Time of Year to Transition - Summer
Summer is the second busiest time of year to buy a home.
Many buyers who missed out on the spring market are still looking for homes, while some sellers are eager to close before the fall.
Summer is also a popular time for vacations, which can affect the availability of buyers who are actively looking.
Motivated Sellers: Some sellers may be willing to lower their prices or make concessions if they want to sell their homes before the school year starts or before they move to another location.
Reduced Competition: Some buyers may take a break from house hunting in the summer, especially in July and August, which can give you more room to negotiate and less pressure to make quick decisions. Meanwhile, other buyers who didn’t get a home in the spring due to competitiveness may go to the sidelines until a less busy time of year in hopes of less competition.
Availability: You may have more time to look for homes and visit open houses in summer since it’s possible you have fewer work or family obligations.
Higher Prices: You may still pay a premium for buying a house in summer as high prices from the month of May spill into June and July.
Hot Weather: Buying a house in summer can be uncomfortable. Moving while dealing with high temperatures, humidity, and bugs is never fun.
Tips for the Best Time of Year to Buy a House
While the season and month can affect the price, competition, and availability (inventory) of homes, these are not the only factors that determine the best time to buy a house.
As mentioned previously, the best time to buy a house also depends on your personal situation and specific goals.
The following are some tips to help find the best time to buy a house for you:
1. Be flexible
While it may be tempting to wait for the "perfect time" to buy a house, you may miss out on opportunities if you are too rigid in your approach or too picky in your requirements.
Sure - keep the points in this article in mind, but also be flexible and open-minded about when you can buy a house, what kind of house you can afford, and where you can live. You may find a great deal or a hidden gem that meets your needs and preferences at a time of the year that isn’t considered "best."
2. Work with a professional
Purchasing real estate is a complex and stressful process that requires a lot of expertise and guidance.
Finding a top real estate agent can make your life easier and help you find the best time to buy a house. A good agent can help you navigate the market, find suitable homes, negotiate terms, handle paperwork, and avoid pitfalls.
3. Be prepared
Whether you buy a house in the spring, summer, fall or winter, you need to be prepared for the process.
This means having your finances in order, getting pre-approved for a mortgage, saving for a down payment and closing costs, setting a realistic budget, and using tools like a mortgage calculator to understand your monthly payment requirements.
Also, make a wish list of features you want in your home to help you get a head start. Likewise, consider the pros and cons of the type of home you want. For example, if you want the charm of buying an old house, are you prepared (both mentally and financially) to keep the home maintained?
Being prepared can help you act fast, make smart decisions, and avoid surprises.
In preparing to buy a house, the best thing you can do is to get pre-approved with a lender. Typically, pre-approval letters are good for 90-120 days.
Without question, purchasing real estate is one of the biggest and most important decisions you will ever make.
Yes, there may be a "best time to buy a house" based on price, competition, and inventory, but it really depends on many personal factors.
With those personal factors in mind, there really isn't a one-size-fits-all answer.
However, by following some general guidelines and tips as well as understanding the market, you can find the best time to buy a house - for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rob Hastings is a top-producing real estate agent in Jacksonville, Florida and helps buyers, sellers, and investors of homes and property throughout all of Northeast Florida. He works with his wife Nancy as a husband-and wife-team with Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners. When not helping his clients navigate the real estate process, Rob enjoys working on old Corvettes and playing music (guitar and piano). A U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Naval Officer, he also loves boating and simply spending time on the water.