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 for a home. 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:
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 situation 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 should also 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.
Also, the state of the economy can influence the housing market. Recessions typically slow down the market and cause prices to fall. If you’re lucky enough to have stable finances during a recession, it may be an opportunity to purchase a home on the cheap.
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 on the market increases during the spring and peaks in the summer. As homebuyers move into fall and winter, the housing market 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 holidays in wintertime.
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 pick 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 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.”
If your question is 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 least amount of buyers so sellers are more likely to accept lower offers.”
What Is the Best Month To Buy a House?
The best months to buy a house depend on your goals.
Home sales usually peak in June, so it’s a good time to buy a house if you want to choose from plenty of options on the market. However, this time of year is also very competitive, with sellers earning a 10.7% premium above market value in June.
If your goal is getting a good deal, then January tends to offer the lowest sale prices. You may encounter lower inventory and inclement weather, among other inconveniences, but you could end up saving money on a home.
Other Seasonal Costs To Consider
The seasons can affect the other costs of purchasing a new home.
You might want to take on some home improvement projects, especially if you buy a fixer-upper. One example is replacing or adding heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems. 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 the 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.
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, but 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.