3 Reasons the Off-Season Is Secretly a Great Time to Buy a House
Conventional wisdom says that if you’re in the market to buy a home, fall and winter are not the time to be house hunting. And there’s reason for that. Inventory is low, and all the “good” sellers with “good” houses are waiting for spring.
But that’s only one side of the story.
Real estate professionals will tell you that if, for whatever reason, you’re looking to move in the off-season, house hunting during the colder months has its advantages.
Why? Here are three unexpected reasons home buyers should not beware:
The Upper Hand
Jessica Creel, a licensed real estate agent in Phoenix, says that fall and winter home buyers have the upper hand more so than they may realize, especially when it comes to houses that went on the market in peak season and didn’t sell. “In an off-season,” she says, “homes may sit on the market a little longer than usual, which will incentivize some sellers to price their home more competitively or even reduce their price. This then gives a buyers a little more leverage and allows them to possibly get a better deal compared to home buying during peak season.”
Heather Bradford of Eddy Homes concurs. “Understanding that demand is likely down for sellers may prompt them to be a bit more lenient in what offers they end up accepting.”
Even when a home is new to the market, Bradford adds that competition in general is not as fierce in the off-season. “While fall may not be a peak time for houses to go on the market, it is also not as competitive when it comes to buying a home, ” she says. “Because most families want to move before the start of the school year, there is a nice decrease in demand and often there are still many houses available.”
We all like beautiful things, so when a house has great curb appeal, it’s hard not to fall in love right away. So, when the exterior’s not quite so polished, it can actually be an advantage for the buyer.
“In the fall and winter months, as the lush greenery that exists outside of homes starts to fade, the true appearance reveals itself,” Bradford says. “Without gorgeous exteriors to distract them, buyers are more easily able to determine which homes they prefer. This also enables a better understanding of the flaws in homes and is an ideal time to conduct a property inspection.”
Real Estate Agents Are on Your Time
The peak spring and summer real estate season moves fast. In a hot market, houses are sometimes sold almost immediately after they hit the market. For buyers, that can be a pain point. If you can’t get your real estate agent’s attention in time to see your dream home, it may be gone by the time they finally text back. “During the summer, as real estate agents are busy aiding a number of hopeful homebuyers, it may be difficult to always give everyone the intimate attention they desire,” Bradford says.
Which is exactly one of the things that makes the off-season a bit nicer for buyers. She adds that “In the fall when there are less people on the market, not only is it easier to work with agents, other individuals like mortgage lenders are also more easily accessible.”
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