Should You Buy a Home During the Off Season?

couple looking at buying a home in the winter

Benefits of buying a house during offseason

Should You Buy a Home During the Offseason?

When homes around the neighborhood start popping up for sale at the start of spring, it’s hard not to want to join the fun and start house hunting. Before you start collecting boxes and finding packing tape, however, consider what month could be best for home buying.

Many people find value in purchasing a home in late fall and winter, or between the months of October and February. Others find themselves needing to move quickly because of a job change and can’t wait until peak season. Fortunately, there are benefits to be found in offseason homebuying.

Is winter home buying cheaper?

Outside of not having to move your belongings in the summer heat, you may find cheaper prices during the colder months. To get noticed in the real estate market, buyers may drop their asking price by a couple thousand dollars, resulting in savings right off the bat for you, the buyer.

Chances are that the owners are motivated if they’re selling in the winter months. While you don’t want to come in with a too-low offer, you have wiggle room to negotiate on the home price or factors including appliances, closing costs or closing date. You can also find houses that have been on the market since early summer. These sellers may have dropped their price a few times, giving you the chance at a steal if you’re shopping in winter.

Moving in the midst of fall activities and holiday traveling isn’t ideal, but the seller may agree to a quick closing date to finalize the sale before their own holiday plans.  

What are other benefits of home buying in the winter?

When the housing market isn’t as busy, you can take your time with less competition for the available houses. You shouldn’t feel as much pressure to put in an offer, reducing stress in the overall process.

Have you ever worked with a real estate agent who seemed rushed to get to their next showing? With a slower market and more incentive to make a sale, your agent should be more focused on your needs in the winter than the summer when everyone is trying to move before school resumes.

The same goes for inspectors, appraisers and other real estate professionals. With fewer houses being sold, you’ll have an easier time getting on their schedules, and they may have more time to spend on your potential home. An inspector with the extra time on his hands can prove invaluable if he spots minor damage or wear before it becomes a costly problem for you.

What should buyers look for in the winter?

Shopping for a home during hurricane season or cold winter weather also allows a buyer to see how the home holds up during less-than-favorable weather. House hunting on a rainy day isn’t much fun, but you’ll be alerted to any roof leaks.

Does the central heating system seem to be keeping the outside temperatures at bay? Is a windy day or recent frost causing any trees and limbs to bend precariously? These are things you can keep an eye on while also checking out the tile backsplash in the kitchen.

If you live in the Southeast in Florida or along the coast, moving in September or October may allow you to see how a potential home holds up to hurricane weather. Has recent heavy rainfall caused flooding in the basement? Will you need to factor in roof repairs because of high winds or fallen limbs?

Keep in mind that inclement weather could delay an inspection or appraisal. If you’re needing to move in a hurry, bank a few extra days before your closing date.

What other factors should I consider when house hunting?

Set aside your Sundays. According to the National Association of Realtors, the busiest days for open houses are Saturdays and Sundays. New listings often appear on the first Sunday of the month, so plan accordingly if you are house hunting in a coveted neighborhood, such as historic Charleston or downtown Charlotte.

Understand the demand. It’s wise to manage your expectations by researching the market – including current interest rates and average prices – before jumping into your home search. Estimating your timeline will help you plan realistically if you’re also selling a home. According to data compiled by the NAR from the U.S. Census, the 25 fastest-growing cities span the entire United States. Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; and Bradenton and Jacksonville, Florida are among the hottest housing markets in the Southeast.

Consider waiting for spring. Your family has been to countless open houses during the winter months, but no listing has felt like “home.” Whether you’re searching in a rural area with limited choice or looking for a specific feature, March and April could offer your dream home. Spring often brings a new “crop” of listings as people look to move away from the snowy North or relocate to a better school district ahead of the fall term.

Know what works for your family. Whether January or July, the best month to buy a home is the month that fits your specific needs. Some people need to move quickly to be closer to loved ones. Others are waiting for a lake house listing of their dreams to come on the market. Recognize what works best for your family, and trust your financial partner to help you start the next chapter.

Ready to explore the housing market? Contact one of our knowledgeable lenders today.

About the Author

Brandon Batson (NMLS #: 448634) is a graduate of Wofford College and brings 18 years of banking experience to SouthState. After spending four years in retail banking, he discovered his true passion for helping clients navigate the mortgage process and achieve their goals of homeownership. Brandon focuses on the customer experience by ensuring a smooth and efficient process.
Brandon Batson - SouthState Mortgage Banker

  • This content is general in nature and provided for informational use only. Content may be used in connection with the advertising and marketing of products and services offered by SouthState Bank, N.A. and its subsidiaries and affiliates. This is not to be considered legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You should seek individualized advice from personal financial, legal, tax and/or other professionals, as appropriate depending on the specific facts of your situation. We do not make any warranties as to the completeness or accuracy of this information and have no liability for your use of this information.

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