Ask a real estate agent, and they will tell you the best time to buy a house is right now. Why? Because the prices are always “about to go up.” The truth is, it depends on the real estate market, time of the year, region, the neighborhood you're buying in, and the home itself.
There are just way too many ingredients to consider when deciding on the “perfect time” to buy, aren't there? Having as much information upfront and using it all to your advantage is the best way to determine the perfect time to buy a house.
It seems that there are, in fact, still better and worse times to buy. A reliable and straightforward way to gauge the market is a price index. This will tell you where the prices are going, down to the metro area! Beyond analyzing the numbers, any real estate professional will tell you about the seasonal variables in the industry. As with all real estate transactions, it is important to discuss it with an agent who knows your area well. Here are some great times of the year to buy a house:
Score a Summer Sale
Summer is one of the best times of the year to get a good deal for many reasons. In general, the prices drop across the market. When summer comes, and the prices fall, you can be sure you are getting the right house for a reasonable price.
Anxious sellers typically post their properties as soon as the last snow melts (or even before) in the Spring. As the months go by, they begin to worry. When a buyer pops up in the summer ready to make a deal, the seller is more likely to bend to secure the sale. Another fear of sellers in the summer is there are fewer people around to look at properties. This is true, as many people go on vacation during these months. Fewer people gives buyers more negotiating power.
The weather gives you more reasons to be a summer house-hunter. During the summer months, there is more life in the area you're looking to buy. People are out, and the streets are usually bustling with activity. You'll get a better sense of the neighborhood. Take the opportunity to walk around and meet neighbors and ask them questions. Walk along the sidewalks and stop in a restaurant or coffee shop for a bit. You'll be able to feel out the area and decide if it's the right place for you to buy.
This may seem odd, but December is also an excellent time of the year to purchase a property. Sellers leave the market in droves when the holiday season comes around. Also, it makes a lot of sense--nobody wants to be organizing showings when he or she is busy hosting out-of-town family and annual parties.
If you're a buyer, you know someone marketing their home during the time is highly motivated to get it sold--probably before the holiday feast! They are definitely more willing to accept a lower offer, be flexible with buyer terms, or work on a condensed or extended closing schedule. So basically, we're saying buying a house in December can feel something like a Christmas miracle!
Also, people tend to shy away from real estate activity in regions where the winters are harsh. Nobody wants to deal with the sludge and snow while showing, viewing, or moving. We can't blame them! However, those who are willing to suit up and brave the weather will reap the benefits. First of all, you get to see the property at its worst, when it is subjected to the harsh conditions. It's a great time to test the insulation, check on the working pipes, look for drafty windows, and all sorts of things we worry about during the winter. If you aren't satisfied with the house at its worst, it's a good thing you were there to see for yourself what you will not be missing before you threw down an offer.
In addition to searching during the depths of winter, you should also look for a sale due to personal reasons, such as a divorce or job loss. Of course, you won't likely find this information floating around on the internet. But there are many informed agents out there with clients who are pushing for the sale in order to relieve themselves of an unfortunate situation. All you have to do is a little harmless poking and prodding on your end.
Spring is the Time to Stay Away
March through April is the time to stay away from real estate activity. Many people crawl out of winter hibernation claiming they are ready to buy. However, many really aren't ready at all. Spring is also the season of mistakes. Lenders and title companies are busy and have been known to slip up quite a bit in the Spring. These mistakes could cause pointless bidding wars that ultimately drive up the prices.
In addition to the right time of the year, the buyer should be ready and feel confident to pounce on a property. That means they are going into the process with enough money saved for the down payment and closing costs, have outstanding credit, a great realtor, are secure in their job income, and ready for the big commitment of home ownership.
A trusted real estate agent will give you honest advice about the best time to buy in your target area. When the right house pops up at the right time, you'll find yourself spinning in the whirlwind of closing on a property. And the next thing you know, you'll be handed the keys to your new home!