Ever tried to go to an open house in December? Your car’s sliding all over the place, you’re wading through knee-deep snow between the car and the seller’s front door, and most of the time you’re supposed to be checking out your potential dream home’s features, you’re just trying to rub feeling back into your frostbitten extremities. It’s not ideal, to say the least.

On the other hand, a May open house, when the sun’s shining down and the tulips are blooming, is almost too pleasant. Looking out on the lawn of newly-sprouted green grass, with the birds chirping in the background, it’s all too easy to imagine this home as the site of your happy future. Of course, everyone else at the open house can hear those bluebirds chirping too, is seeing the kitchen drenched in the same golden sunlight. Putting in an offer in the spring almost always means competition, which means higher prices.

And that’s the upside of trudging to those harsh winter open houses. If you do make it out there, you likely won’t have a lot of company. And less competition means fewer people to outbid you.

Of course, this is a simplified explanation of a complicated situation. Each market has its own unique fluctuations. And the best way to understand those unique fluctuations is to partner with an experienced local real estate agent who understands those fluctuations and can help you time the market to perfection to get the best possible deal, whatever time of year it happens to be.

Clever Partner Agents are elite performers in their respective markets and seasoned negotiators. If you’re trying to time the market to get the best deal, they’re the best partners you could possibly have.

The Best Time to Purchase a Home in Ohio

The best time to buy in Ohio is going to be in the dead of winter — January, to be specific. In the Columbus market (one of the largest markets in Ohio, and a bellwether for the rest of the state), January sales close for a jaw-dropping 21.7% lower than the yearlong average. The reasons for this are probably some combination of the post-holiday malaise and the notorious Ohio winters.

Though it may be inconvenient, seasonal discounts of this size are almost unheard of, so it’s well worth it to time your offer to close in that January sweet spot.

Similarly, homes lingered on the market for 36 days longer than average in January. Since Ohio listings average about 85 days statewide, this is a massive increase. Savvy buyers know that the longer their home is listed, the less chance there is that they’ll be able to sell, so January sellers should be eager to make a deal.

The Best Places to Buy a Home in Ohio

Columbus

Columbus is not only home to The Ohio State University, but it’s also a burgeoning tech hub. Median home values are far lower than the national average, making it a very affordable place to buy a home, and the amenities that come with being a major college town (transit, an arts scene, dining) add a lot of value to an already attractive package.

Cincinnati

Known as “Queen City” or, in the 19th century, “the Paris of America” (no, really), Cincinnati is still thriving. Home to ten Fortune 500 companies, two universities, and a vibrant arts scene, it’s also rated as one of the safest cities in the United States.

Toledo

This mid-sized city of just under 280,000 boasts home values that are less than half the national average, as well as a cost-of-living that’s the third cheapest in the nation. Locals claim the city has the best pizza in America (possibly) and that local amusement park Cedar Point is the best in the world (probably true).

Dayton

Dayton (population 141,000), like many of its fellow Ohio cities, offers incredible affordability. Home values are a third of the national average, though median household income is just over half the national average, and the crime rate is moderately higher than the national average.

Akron

The unofficial rubber capital of America, population 198,000, is on the upswing. While home values here are moderately higher than some of the other Ohio cities’ rock-bottom prices, homes here are still very affordable, with a median home value of $80,100, less than half the national average. With proximity to Cleveland but a small-town feel, Akron could be a great choice for families.

Four Ways to Great a Great Deal On a Home in Ohio

Find a Great Ohio Real Estate Agent

Working with a local real estate agent to find your dream home lets you access their market knowledge and negotiating expertise. And there’s nothing to lose!

The usual reason people want to bypass an agent is because of money. There’s a persistent idea that if you buy a house without an agent, you’re somehow saving money. This isn’t the case, though. A buyer’s agent gets paid out of the commission, which comes out of the seller’s side of the transaction. Your agent and the seller’s agent usually split around 6%; you, the buyer, pay none of that at all. And what did you get by using the agent? Probably a shorter search, a smoother negotiation, and a dramatically lower final price.

Assess Your Needs and Lay Out Your Goals

Next, you’ll want to sit down and have a serious conversation with your agent about what you’re looking for, and how much you can pay. This is the time to get into specific details and get past generalities and ballpark figures.

What architecture styles do you find unacceptable? Do you want a fenced-in yard, or is no outdoor space acceptable? Do you want off-street parking? New construction? There are a lot of little boxes to check, but the more work you do now, the better your eventual choices will be.

Find a Lender and Secure Financing

Next, you’ll want to find a lender. Your agent can recommend a good one, or you can consult friends and family for a recommendation.

When you’ve found a lender, you’ll want to apply for a preapproval letter. This tells sellers that you’re a serious buyer with financing already in place. (Many people confuse preapproval and prequalification; the former means you have financing in place, while the latter just means the bank has looked over your financials and given them a passing grade.)

Just remember that closing on a home takes about a month, so plan accordingly.

Negotiate for the Best Possible Price

Once your agent compiles a list of properties that meet your specific needs and desires, you’ll want to take a close look at each one. If one of them catches your eye, you’ll then proceed to the offer stage.

Your agent will help you arrive at a number for that all-important initial offer, based on the sale prices of similar properties, and the mindset of the seller. They’ll also attempt to negotiate the price down for you, based on any leverage they’ll be able to find, based on the property’s condition. Something as small as a leaky roof could get you ten grand knocked off the price; it’s the agent’s job to know and exploit this.

If your agent’s savvy negotiations are successful, your offer will be accepted, and you’ll be the new owner of your dream home. Congratulations!

Clever Partner Agents are seasoned, elite performers in their respective markets, and come from top brokerages and brands. Contact us today to set up a no-obligation consultation!