Spring has been a traditional house-hunting season. That’s when parents of school-age kids often look for a place to call home — one they can settle into before classes begin in September.
And summer certainly has its merits for looking at houses, from the comfort of walk-throughs in warm weather to seeing gardens in full bloom.
But buying a house in winter can be a wise move. The so-called “off season” bestows some very real benefits for those who are looking for a new place. These may include everything from less competition (and fewer bidding wars) to faster closing schedules.
While increasing mortgage rates and low inventory have led to high home prices in recent years, industry watchers are expecting prices to decline in some “hot” markets (like Texas and Florida) in late 2023, early 2024. That suggests that the winter ahead might be a good time to bundle up and rev up a home search.
Read on to learn seven smart benefits of shopping for a house in winter. You just might snag a great deal on your dream house.
Why You Should Buy a Home in Winter
Wondering why you should consider buying a house in winter, when the days may be short, the trees bare, and the weather nasty? Here are some very good reasons.
1. Having Less Competition for Homes
Not everyone wants to or is able to shop for houses during the winter months. Freezing temperatures and inclement weather can keep would-be homebuyers away.
During the winter season, many parents are busy managing school schedules and events, and many people are also busy traveling and hosting guests over the holidays.
But there’s an upside: Fewer people shopping for homes could mean less competition for those in the market for a house. And diminished competition might mean winter homebuyers can be more discerning in their choices. There’s less pressure to snap up a house for fear another buyer will get to it first. In addition, you may be less likely to end up in a bidding war with a slew of other interested buyers, which can drive up costs.
While there are often fewer houses for sale during the winter, buyers may be more likely to land their desired home closer to the asking price (or even below).
💡 Quick Tip: When house hunting, don’t forget to lock in your home mortgage loan rate so there are no surprises if your offer is accepted.
2. Profiting from a Buyer’s Market in Winter
With some buyers distracted by the jam-packed holidays, it can be trickier to sell a home in the wintertime. Some sellers only put their homes on the market in the winter because they really have to.
The seller’s snag, though, can be a boon for buyers, as winter homesellers may be more motivated to get the sale completed faster than their summertime counterparts.
Motivated winter sellers might be willing to negotiate on things like price, closing costs, and the closing date. Perhaps they need to relocate for work or another time-sensitive reason and are eager to get the deal done.
In some cases,houses that are on the market in the winter have been there since the summer selling season. Homes like these are sometimes referred to as “stale listings.” The seller may be ready to take what would previously be deemed a too-low offer, just to move ahead with a deal.
Recommended: A Guide to Counter Offers
3. Closing on Your Purchase Faster in Winter
Closing is when the title of a property legally changes hands from the seller to the buyer. When buyers and sellers are negotiating the sale of a home, they work together to set a closing date when the house title will officially transfer between the parties.
Real estate agents often work with mortgage brokers to find a suitable day that will allow enough time for the deal to be executed properly.
In warmer months, banks, inspectors, and appraisers are usually handling a lot of new buyers. In practice, this glut of interested buyers could mean mortgage brokers are backed up for weeks or even months.
In the winter, when fewer interested buyers are typically calling, things can slow down for lenders. As a result, cold-weather buyers might be able to close on their homes faster and get settled in more quickly.
Recommended: What Are the Different Types of Mortgage Loans?
4. Understanding a Home’s Condition More Clearly
Visiting a property in person can tell a buyer a lot about a home. But, in the summertime, some of a house’s less attractive qualities can be masked by warm weather, blossoming gardens, and the brilliant summer sun.
Seeing a house in the winter can give buyers a chance to understand how it holds up under tougher conditions. Is the house too gloomy in low light? Does cold air creep in from the windows? Does ice jam up the gutters causing the roof to leak? Does a long driveway that needs to be shoveled seem less appealing in the winter than in June? You could be destined for some home maintenance costs. Getting a chance to suss out potential problems like these can provide a fuller picture of what actually living in a property might be like year-round.
Keep in mind, though, that some aspects of a home can be harder to grasp in the winter months. For example, it’s tough to test out an air conditioning unit in the wintertime. And snow could cover up foundation issues.
💡 Quick Tip: To see a house in person, particularly in a tight or expensive market, you may need to show the real estate agent proof that you’re preapproved for a mortgage. SoFi’s online application makes the process simple.
5. Hiring Movers Can Be Easier in Winter
Let’s say you do find a new home and move forward with buying a house in winter. Moving costs in the winter can be cheaper than in the summer. Fewer people buying homes means less demand for movers, which in turn could mean more competitive pricing.
With lighter schedules, moving companies may also be more flexible and able to accommodate your desired moving dates. (It can be helpful to stay flexible with move dates in the winter, since a big snowstorm might mean sudden delays.)
Still, if you move when snow is falling, that will obviously slow down your move and make it pricier. Try to reschedule if inclement weather is in the forecast.
6. Getting More Time and Attention from Realtors
Movers aren’t the only people who are less busy in the winter months. Fewer people shopping for houses could mean there’s less work for real estate agents.
Agents may have more time in the winter to spend helping individual buyers find the house that meets their exact needs. Also, when it comes time to negotiate, agents may have more hours to go to bat for their clients to secure a better deal.
7. Taking Advantage of Last-Minute Tax Savings
Buying a house by late December (rather than waiting until the following spring) may allow buyers to take advantage of last-minute savings on that year’s taxes.
The mortgage interest deduction allows homeowners to subtract mortgage interest from their taxable income, lowering the amount of taxes they owe. Married couples filing jointly and single filers can deduct the interest on mortgages up to $750,000. Married taxpayers filing separately can deduct up to $375,000 each.
However, you cannot deduct mortgage interest in addition to taking the standard deduction. To take the mortgage interest deduction, you’ll need to itemize. Itemizing only makes sense if your itemized deductions total more than the standard deduction. For the 2023 tax year, the standard deduction is $13,850 for single filers and $27,700 for those married, filing jointly.
Financing Your Home Purchase
No matter what season you may be house-hunting, it’s important to figure out how to finance a potential purchase before you find the home that’s “The One.”
Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.
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*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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