House hunting is serious business. You need to secure a good mortgage and find the right property. Not only is buying a house a huge financial decision, but it can be made more complex by the ups and downs of the market. Knowing what to expect when you’re shopping can make the process easier. Here we’ll tell you the conventional thinking on the best time to buy a house, then we’ll break down the pros and cons of each house shopping in each season.
For help figuring out how to work buying a home into your own financial plan, consider working with a financial advisor.
The Pros and Cons of Different Home-Buying Seasons
The conventional wisdom on the best time to buy a house is the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Months like August, September and even early October have plenty of houses on the market. But, because demand is slowing as the weather cools, there’s a better chance of you getting a good deal on a house than you would in the competitive summer months.
While buying in August or September might be ideal from a cost perspective, when you need to move is also dictated by life. Each season comes with positives and negatives. Let’s go over what you should expect if you’re buying a house, whatever time of the year.
Buying a House in the Spring
Pros: Spring is a busy time for home buying. New homes are being put on the market frequently. Sellers who have been prepping and waiting all winter to list their home may be more eager to sell. On top of that, you’ll be able to see the home’s landscaping in full bloom.
Cons: Spring comes with pent-up demand. Sellers have been waiting to list so they can list their home at a high price. And buyers have been waiting for more homes to come on the market. Many people can be eager to buy and willing to pay more. This increases competition and decreases the likelihood that your offer is accepted.
Buying a House in the Summer
Pros: The summer is the height of housing inventory. People are out, open houses are plentiful and homes are constantly added to the market. Towards the end of summer, you’re more likely to find a deal. Homeowners are more motivated to sell before the school year starts, which means they may take a good offer — for you and for them.
Cons: Summer is still very competitive. You need to move quickly on homes and prices are still high. While you may see a little less competition toward the end of summer, you also may experience more. Many people want to move in the summer and get settled before it gets cold.
Buying a House in the Fall
Pros: Prices in the fall are coming down, which can make it a great time to get a deal or edge into an otherwise competitive market. With school in session, people are out and about less, meaning things slow down. In the early fall, there are still more homes on the market and sellers might be more motivated to sell as the weather, and the market, cools.
Cons: Buying in the fall comes with more obstacles than in the summer. If you’re a parent, having your kids in school can make traveling to a showing with the whole family hard. There are also fewer houses on the market, which means you have fewer to choose from.
Buying a House in the Winter
Pros: If you’re patient and looking for the lowest price, winter could be the best time to buy a house. In general, winter has the lowest competition from buyers and the sellers who put their houses on the market need to sell. This means you may be able to buy a great house at a lower price than you would in warmer months.
Cons: Winter has the fewest number of sellers and homes on the market. If you’re looking for something specific, you’re much less likely to find it in winter. On top of that, moving in winter, especially in states with cold weather, can be difficult.
The Bottom Line
The truth is that the right time to buy a house is when you’re ready, when you’ve got a reasonable mortgage rate and when you find the right place. A lot goes into this huge financial process. You need to have a good credit score, a solid down payment and have secured a good mortgage rate. You may face challenges like low inventory or high competition. Remember, all you need is one home, an accepted offer and a signature at the closing table.
Tips for House Hunting
- A financial advisor can help you make the right decisions for your own retirement portfolio. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Finances are a huge part of buying a house. Know what you’re going into buy using SmartAsset’s mortgage calculator to estimate how much house you can afford.
- House hunting starts with a mortgage preapproval. A preapproval requires you to research lenders and come prepared with documentation. Having a mortgage preapproval checklist by your side can help the whole process.
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