There are a multitude of sites, seminars and real estate gurus out there offering precious, hard-to-find-insight on how to get the best deal. You could spend hours combing through articles and talking to quote-on-quote experts. Or you could save yourself a lot of time and trouble and just look out the nearest window.
If the trees are barren, and there’s snow on the ground, then it might be an ideal time to maximize your purchasing power.
Buying a home in winter may be one of the industry’s most downplayed opportunities. Sales are often slow, and prices and inventory tend to sag from November to January. There are fewer buyers, more real estate agents and winter sellers who are perhaps more open to concessions.
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Naturally, the best time to get a home loan is when it makes the most sense for you, personally and financially. But if you have the benefit of a flexible timeline, a winter home search might help you land the best possible deal.
Buyers and sellers alike tend to shift focus away from the housing market as the holiday season nears. Winter weather can easily make home shopping unappealing, and many homeowners simply think their property shows better in the spring and summer.
Not to mention, the home inventory usually falls about 15 percent in the winter compared to the summer months, according to the National Association of Realtors. At the same time, home prices dip an average of $7,000 after Labor Day and usually hit rock bottom in December.
A declining inventory is a seasonal risk to be sure; however, while the pool of available homes may decrease a bit, there are potential advantages. Sellers with a winter listing may be much more motivated to unload the property, possibly on more flexible terms than you’ll find in spring or summer.
Winter also means more down time for real estate agents and mortgage professionals. I happen to be a real estate agent and broker, and I work with several mortgage brokers; take advantage of downtime -- you may actually be able to move through the mortgage process faster than any other season.
I've frequently been asked if one can get better loan terms during winter. That's a difficult question to answer, and to be fair and safe, the general response is probably a boring "maybe". So much depends on a borrower's credit scores and financial profile, not to mention the mortgage-rate environment.
What we can decipher with higher probability though is that this winter might be better for home buyers, because interest rates are likely to rise by the end of next year.
Winter shopping will also provide a different vantage point of a home. You'll see the house under a grey-ish sky, and without the lush greenery. You might also see whether your neighbor blows his snow onto your future driveway.
A different light
Winter shopping also provides a different vantage point of a property. You’ll see the house without the lush greenery or the sunlight streaming through open windows. You might also see whether the neighbor blows his snow onto your future driveway.