Sometimes, you have no control over when you buy your home. Maybe you have to move to a new city for a job, or maybe you’re about to have children and need more space. In these circumstances, you can’t worry much about the current state of the real estate market or the future of a property’s value.
However, if your home search isn’t as urgent, you might be interested in timing your purchase strategically to get the best deal.
Timing shouldn’t be your only consideration when you buy your home, but it could make a big difference financially. The real estate market will always fluctuate, and buying at the right time may save you tens of thousands of dollars.
Keep in mind that even experts can’t predict the future with complete confidence. You’ll have to be patient while waiting for the right moment, and you’ll never know for sure if you chose the best possible time. However, statistics from over the years do suggest that there are better times than others to buy a home. Here are eight key facts to know:
1. Supply and demand both decrease in winter.
If you live in a region that experiences cold winter weather, you can expect that the number of homes on the market and the number of buyers will both decrease. Sellers may have a harder time getting offers during winter because fewer people want to go out in the cold and dark conditions and because snow can affect a home’s curb appeal.
Most people try to avoid moving in the winter, too, so you might see a lot of homeowners waiting to list their houses until the weather improves.
This can be ideal for buyers who are willing to withstand the winter weather during their home search. You might not have as many options, but you’ll also have far less competition. Sellers are more likely to accept a lower offer, too.
2. January may be the easiest month for buyers.
January tends to be the month where the winter slump is at its strongest. By this point, many of the homes left on the market from late summer or fall will have closed, and the dreary weather conditions will prevent many prospective buyers from actively searching for houses.
Although moving in January can be challenging, you’re much more likely to have your offer accepted quickly during this time of year.
3. Activity increases in spring.
By April, more and more sellers will put their homes on the market. Springtime is great for curb appeal, and many buyers are anxious to find homes after laying low through the winter.
If you’re looking for a home in spring, you can expect to see plenty of options. However, competition will be much stronger than it is in the winter.
4. Summer is the most competitive time of year.
Home sales usually peak in the summer. Buyers are more motivated than ever to shop for homes because of the warm weather and long daylight hours. Moving in the summertime is much more ideal than moving in the winter, too.
Also, families often prefer to buy a home in the summer so that their children don’t have to switch schools in the middle of the school year.
There are many practical reasons why people want to buy or sell their homes in the summer. If you’re looking for the best deal, though, you probably won’t find it in this season. Although there will be lots of homes on the market, you’ll be competing against a large pool of other buyers.
Bidding wars are fairly common during the summer in many areas, so you may end up paying above the asking price.
5. Early fall offers more supply and less competition.
Many experts agree that autumn is the best time of year for buyers. You can typically expect a higher supply of homes in the fall than in the winter as many homes listed in the summer will still be available. As winter approaches, though, sellers will want to close as soon as possible. They’ll be more likely to accept lower offers and to negotiate with buyers.
You’ll have less competition in the fall than in spring and summer, too. By this point, many families who were anxious to move before the beginning of the school year will be out of the market.
6. You may get the best price in November.
An analysis from Zillow found that buyers get the best deals in November. While 26 percent of buyers paid above listing price in April, only 15 percent paid above listing price in November. You may not have as many options in November as you do in the spring or summer, but this month may be your time to get the best deal.
7. Current mortgage rates matter.
While month-to-month fluctuations in the real estate market may be your main concern when deciding when to buy, you should also consider the current mortgage rates. A lower mortgage rate could save you thousands of dollars over the years. In some cases, it may be worth buying a home for a higher price now to take advantage of the mortgage rates.
You can check out the current average rates to determine whether or not now is a good time to apply for a mortgage. Low rates don’t last forever, so you may have to act quickly to get the best deal. You can ask your real estate agent for their input, too, as they’ll be more familiar with the trends.
8. Local factors may be different then national trends.
While many trends are consistent across the country, circumstances will always be different from city to city or even from neighborhood to neighborhood.
You can look at national statistics to get a broad understanding of the best months to buy a home, but your community might be different. Be sure to learn about local home sales in the last few years to look for trends that might be specific to your area.
It’s difficult to determine the best time to buy a home. Looking at data from the last several years can help you see patterns in the real estate market, which will give you the best chances of getting a great deal. What’s most important, though, is that you buy a home when you’re ready to buy a home.
You should always consider your own personal circumstances to decide whether or not the time is right. Listen to your instincts, consult with a realtor you trust, and weigh all of your options before you put in an offer.
Michael Carr is the Co-Founder & COO of BrandFace, LLC. He is also a real estate branding expert and international bestselling author. As America’s Top Selling Real Estate Auctioneer, he has sold billions of dollars in commercial and residential properties.