Looking for a home in the winter creates a new set of challenges. This will depend greatly on the region you live in. I live in Northeastern America and around here in the winter it gets cold and snowy. This will be the focus of my article.
Looking for a house in the winter will be a little different from looking for a home in the Spring, Summer or Fall. Not all of the differences are bad though. I will go over the challenges and the benefits of looking for a home in the winter.
Benefits of Searching for a Home in the Winter
- Less Buyers to Compete With
There are many reasons that there are less buyers in the winter then any other time of the year. The biggest reason is that no one likes moving in the winter.
Another reason is that quite a few buyers have children and they do not want to move during the school year.
There are many more reasons but it all boils down to the fact that the real estate market has fewer buyers in the winter. This helps buyers to have more, well, Buying Power during winter.
With less buyers on the market there is a better chance of negotiating a good deal on a home in the winter. Sellers are more likely to come down on price or offer better terms such as; closing cost assistance, appliances, home warranties and even move in date.
Less buyers to compete with is a huge benefit of looking for a home in the winter.
- Sellers Become Desperate
Sellers start to become more desperate in the winter with less activity and less showings on their property. This is because of the fact that there are less buyers on the market in the winter months.
The less showings a seller receives on their property the more likely they are to reduce the price or upgrade the home or appliances. When there is less activity on a seller’s home, they start to wonder why that might be. They do have a few options to generate more activity on their home.
They can lower the price (which is the most likely outcome), they can update the home or appliances to make it more appealing or they can ask their agent to put more time and money into marketing their home.
In the winter sellers do become more desperate and buyers will benefit from this.
- Buyers Get a Better Deal on Their Home Purchase
All of the reasons above lead to the best benefit of all, getting a better deal on your home purchase.
This is what buyers want the most, a lower price and better terms. The best time of the year to make this happen would be in the winter months. With the right Realtor you should be able to get a great deal on a home any time of the year, but it is easier to make happen in the winter.
Challenges of Searching for a Home in the Winter
- Bad Weather When Looking at Homes
It is always a bummer when I scheduled a showing and it starts snowing or freezing rain shortly before the showing. It makes it harder for the buyers then it does for me and I feel bad for my buyer clients when the weather is bad out during our showings.
The chance of bad weather before or during a showing means you will need to leave a little earlier and plan to stay out a bit longer as well. The biggest problem with this is that it causes more of a hardship on the buyers. Looking for a home is time consuming to begin with but when you add extra time in for bad weather it starts to get overwhelming.
The next problem with having bad weather before or during a showing is more of an issue for the Realtor; Falling behind schedule.
It is hard enough to keep multiple showings on schedule with good weather but when you add in snow it becomes impossible. Agents are able to reschedule and adjust showing time on their phones when needed but it just becomes a headache.
What this means for the buyer is that it is harder to schedule your day around showings. Sometimes buyers have to fit in a couple showings between work and their kids soccer game and it just gets more complicated in the winter.
When you are conducting your home search in the winter just plan for it to take extra time because you never know when the weather will get bad.
- Cold Homes
You will find that not all homes are heated. This becomes extremely obvious when it is 10 degrees out and you walk in the home and it is only 10 degrees in the house as well.
This is more common with foreclosed, bank owned, REO and HUD homes. Most home owners keep the heat running but they set it lower, around 55 to 60 degrees if they are not currently occupying the home.
As a Realtor I have learned over the years to dress warm and plan to be cold even indoors. I hate being cold, so I usually overdo it and I’m nice and toasty the whole time. When the heat is on and it is just set low, I always turn it up for my buyers and most sellers expect that.
If you are looking at homes in the winter, make sure you dress extra warm and don’t assume that the house you are looking at will be heated.
- Less Homes Available For Sale In the Winter Time
It is true almost every year but especially this year. Inventory is extremely low! As a buyer you might find it harder to find that dream home that has everything on your wish list.
Less home owners want to move during the winter months, so they wait until the weather is better. Sellers also know that the majority of buyers wait until the spring time to start looking for a home.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find your dream home. Every home search is different and will take time, sometimes it is longer then others. In the winter months I find that on average it takes about three to six weeks longer to find my buyer clients their dream home.
This isn’t always the case. Last year I was able to help a buyer client of mine find the perfect home on the first showing. We wrote the offer up on the spot and just like that their home search was done as quick as it started.
If you are looking for a home in the winter months don’t get discouraged. Stay at it and trust your Realtor to lead you to the right home.
I suggest you read my article “Path To Homeownership”. It will explain each step of the process of buying a home and give you an estimate of how long it really takes to purchase a home.
If you have any questions or comments let me know by leaving a comment below or send me an email.
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