If you’re looking to buy a house and aren’t in a rush to buy, you’ve probably wondered what would be the cheapest time of year to buy a house.

I’m presuming, of course, that you already know where you want to buy.

And assuming that you’re cost-conscious, you probably want to focus on when the market is most favorable to buyers. Good move: there are times when it is cheaper to buy a house.

Winter is Generally the Cheapest Time of Year to Buy a House

Winter Home Front DoorAs a rule, the number of houses that go on the market start to rise in the autumn and usually drop to their lowest in January.

Does this mean you should wait until December to look? No!

Start looking while inventories are high so that you become familiar with neighborhoods you like. That cute house that was “snatched up” in September probably isn’t all that unique. Chances are, similar homes will be available a few months later and at a better price after a house-hunting season ends.

A 2016 Nerdwallet study on home sales found that in most metropolitan areas, winter home prices can drop by almost 8.5% compared to peak summertime prices. That’s quite a bit, particularly for first-time buyers whose average down payment is five to ten percent according to SmartAsset.

Won’t The Winter Housing Inventory Be Low?

I know what you’re thinking: all the good places will be gone by winter.

I won’t gloss over this. There are fewer homes on the market as the winter holidays approach, but that hardly means there aren’t any.

Many houses are on the market in the winter because the sale needs to be done quickly. Their owners aren’t interested in bidding wars and are likely to list their homes at realistic prices so a sale will happen quickly.

Furthermore, if you’re a first-time buyer, you’re in good company to buy a solid starter home in the winter. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported earlier this year that first-time buyers made up almost a third of all homebuyers in December 2017. Moreover, 44% of homes that sold in December were on the market for a month or less, another indication that they were priced to sell.

How Do I Know Winter Sellers Want to Sell Quickly?

Let’s look at this from the seller’s point of view.

  • Open houses are annoying and disruptive. Multiply this by 10 in the winter.
    • In most of the country, people prefer to stay home in the winter which, of course, they can’t do if their realtor is showing their house. A day “out” usually means a crowded mall or inviting yourself to someone else’s home.
    • In warm weather states, winter open houses mean leaving home to join the crowds at spring training or waiting in lines at restaurants and attractions.
  • Curb appeal is challenging in winter. Curb appeal just doesn’t work as well in winter. The front yard is probably dormant, with patches of dull snow or ice on the grass. Snow quickly turns to slush and there’s only so much shoveling a homeowner can do.
  • It’s harder to keep a house clean and fresh in winter. Windows are kept tightly shut. More time inside means more clutter to clean up. Prospective buyers want to see closets so even those must be kept neat!

I view the winter home sale market as a great opportunity to find a great home at a reasonable price. Contact our real estate agent in Kierland and let’s talk about winter home buying opportunities!