If you’re in the market to buy a home, you might be excited to start touring. However, depending on the time of year, you may find that inventory is limited — making it difficult to find a good home in your price range. In many ways, the housing market is seasonal, so the time of year can affect your search.
Here’s what you should know about purchasing in the winter, spring, summer, or fall if you’re wondering when is the best time to buy a home.
- Seasons influence homebuying in several ways, such as the availability and prices of homes.
- If you’re only looking at home prices, you can pinpoint the best months to buy a house, as well as the best days and worst days of the year to make the purchase.
- Other factors that influence home prices include mortgage rates and the area you’re buying in.
Is There a Best Time of Year To Buy a House?
In general, more housing transactions happen in spring and summer than in fall and winter. If you’re searching during the warmer months, there’s likely to be more inventory available than in the colder months.
Home prices follow a similar pattern, rising during the seasonal peak and declining when the housing market slows down. So, you may have better luck finding a deal if you’re touring homes during the fall and winter.
However, the right time to buy isn’t necessarily when the most properties are available or when prices are low. It could be any time of the year when you’re in a good financial position to purchase a home. It’s important to consider your own circumstances — such as job opportunities, the impact of moving on your family, and the end date of your rental agreement — when determining the best time to buy a home.
You also should think about other factors that affect home prices and inventory. For example, you might be able to get a better deal on a mortgage when interest rates are low. Rates can rise and fall in any season, and you may want to move quickly to lock in a good rate.
The state of the economy can influence the housing market as well. Recessions typically slow down the market and cause prices to fall. If your finances are stable during a recession, it may be an opportunity to purchase a home at a more affordable price.
How Do Seasons Influence Homebuying?
While the seasons have some influence over the real estate market, the precise impact of seasonality depends on the location and climate. Still, different seasons can affect the number of properties on the market, how many people are competing to buy a home, and prices.
Availability of housing options
In general, the number of homes available for purchase increases during the spring and peaks in the summer. In fall and winter, the housing market typically slows down and inventory decreases.
There are a number of reasons for this seasonal pattern, including the weather, school year, and holidays. It’s typically easier to view homes and move when the weather is milder. Families with children also tend to relocate during the summer, which helps minimize the disruption to the school year. And for many people, it’s not ideal to move during the wintertime holidays.
This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a great home during the slower seasons. However, you’ll likely have fewer options to choose from.
Seasonal price fluctuations
Typically, prices are highest during the spring and summer housing season.
“Many buyers believe that spring is the best season to buy a property because of the warm weather and the fact that school will soon be out for summer break,” says Erik Wright, owner and CEO of New Horizon Home Buyers, a real estate company based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “However, it turns out that many homeowners are listing their homes at the same time, and are likely pricing them as high as possible given the competitive nature of the real estate market at this time of year.”
Buying a house in winter
Many families don’t want to tour homes or move in winter due to the less-than-ideal weather, busy school schedules, and holiday obligations.
However, that doesn’t mean buying a house in winter only comes with drawbacks. Housing inventory may be lower, but you also are in a better position to negotiate a deal because there’s not much competiton among buyers. If you want to know what time of year is real estate cheapest, the answer is fall or winter, according to Robert Scott, founder of Sell Land, a St. Louis-based real estate buyer.
“If you prioritize getting the lowest prices, then I recommend that you shop for a house during the winter months, especially after Christmas until early January,” Scott says. “This time of the year presents the fewest buyers so sellers are more likely to accept lower offers.”
Buying a house in spring
Spring is a popular season to move, which comes with benefits and drawbacks as a buyer.
There will likely be more homes for sale during the warmer months, particularly at the end of the school year when families are preparing to move. However, sellers know spring is a popular real estate season, so they’ll likely look for offers above list price and be stiffer during negotiations. There’s a chance that inventory will go quickly and prices will rise with multiple house offers.
Buying a house in summer
Summer is peak real estate season. Warm weather and no school make summer an ideal time to move. Summer months can be more competitive than any other time of year, which means many homebuyers pay more than they typically would during slower real estate seasons.
Home sales usually peak in June, so it’s a good time to buy a house if you want plenty of options on the market. However, this month is also very competitive, with sellers earning a 10.7% premium above market value.
Buying a house in fall
In fall, inventory and prices typically decrease compared to peak summer months. A real estate agent may tell you it’s not the best time to buy — but remember that people move year-round. New jobs, work transfers, and family needs don’t necessarily line up with a particular season, so fall could be a great time to secure a property at a bargain price.
You may have fewer choices outside of peak season, but with less competition among buyers, you could be in a better position to negotiate the best possible deal.
What Are the Best Months and Dates To Buy a Home?
The best month to buy a house depends on your goals.
If your goal is getting a good deal, then January tends to offer the lowest prices. You may encounter less inventory and inclement weather, among other inconveniences, but you could save money on a home.
Best months to buy a house
Over the last four years, March, January, and February were the cheapest months to buy a home, and October was the most expensive.
Here’s the median sales price for new homes in the United States from 2019 to 2022, broken down by month:
Average Cost To Buy a Home Across the Year
|Median Home Sale Price in 2019
|Median Home Sale Price in 2020
|Median Home Sale Price in 2021
|Median Home Sale Price in 2022
|Average Home Sale Price Over 4 Years
It’s important to acknowledge the different factors that influence this data, such as record low interest rates during 2020 and rate hikes beginning in 2022 to combat inflation. Also, home prices tend to increase over time.
A more accurate metric is to look at seller premiums for each month. From 2011 to 2021, sales of single-family homes and condos had the lowest seller premium in October at 5.2%, and the highest seller premium in May at 12.6%.
Best days of the year to buy a house
If you want to get more specific, there are days of the year that stand out in terms of home affordability.
Nov. 28 is historically the best day of the year to buy a home, with a seller premium of 1.1%. Not many buyers are looking to close on a home around Thanksgiving, so you could benefit if you’re willing and able to work out closing details while most families are gathering.
Other days of the year with the lowest seller premiums are Jan. 9, Dec. 5, Dec. 26, Dec. 19, Dec. 12, and Dec. 24. Notably, these are all dates that occur during winter.
Worst days of the year to buy a house
The end of May tends to be the worst time to buy a home when it comes to seller premiums. Historically, May 23, May 20, and May 27 have the highest premiums of the year — around 15% over the average sale price.
What Other Factors Affect Home Prices?
The time of year is only one of many factors that influence home prices.
When there are many homes on the market, prices tend to decrease because sellers must try harder to find a willing buyer. When there are fewer homes on the market, prices generally rise as buyers compete make their house offer stand out.
Mortgage interest rates are a major factor in calculating your monthly payment and influencing the demand for homes. When mortgage rates rise, demand declines as the cost to homebuyers increases. When rates fall, buyers can afford more home, driving up demand.
The general health of the economy also influences home prices. In a strong economy, people are often more financially stable, which gives them greater buying power and increases demand for homes. When the economy weakens, people are less eager to buy.
Area you’re buying in
Real estate is all about location. If you’re buying in a highly desirable neighborhood, prices will typically be higher compared to areas with less demand. The state, city, and neighborhood you buy a home in will greatly influence what you pay.
How financially ready you are
While your financial situation doesn’t affect the real estate market, it’s the factor that is most relevant to your ability to buy a home. For example, whether you’re preapproved for a mortgage or able to buy with all cash could influence a seller’s decision when negotiating.
Other Seasonal Costs To Consider
The seasons also can affect other costs of purchasing a new home.
You might want to take on some home improvement projects during certain times of the year, especially if you’re buying a fixer-upper. One example is replacing or adding a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system. HVAC professionals are generally busiest during summer and winter, which means you could pay higher prices and experience longer wait times if you hire a contractor when demand peaks.
Also consider purchases like outdoor equipment. For example, buying later in the year — during fall — allows you to take advantage of sales on garden products and other items such as grills and patio furniture.
It’s important to factor in these additional considerations when you buy a home, and how the time of year may influence the costs.
FAQ: Best Time of the Year To Buy a House
Here are some frequently asked questions about the best time of year to buy a house.
The best time of year to buy a house can vary by state — and even by city within a state. This is due to a variety of factors, including local market conditions, weather, and regional events or trends. If you’re looking to move to a specific area, consult with a local agent to learn the nuances of home prices in that market.
If you’re looking to sell a house quickly, listing during peak season in the summer may lead to the quickest sale. If you’re more focused on profit, the end of May has the highest seller premiums.
The Bottom Line: When Is the Best Time To Buy a House?
The housing market can be very seasonal. In general, inventory and prices are highest in the spring and summer, and both decline in the fall and winter. Precise trends can vary depending on where you live. Knowing those trends allows you to use the information to your advantage, whether you want to view as many homes as possible or try to score the best deal.
Eric Rosenberg contributed to the reporting of this article.
- Attom Data Solutions (2022)