The Art of Buying a Home in the Winter
If you’re anything like me, your idea of winter involves hibernating under a blanket by the fire until the snow melts. However, if buying a home in the winter is on your radar, shirking the blanket and strapping on your warmest boots might pay off in a buyer’s market. Here’s what makes buying a home in the colder months beneficial — and how it stacks up to the warmer months.
The upside of colder weather
Home selling prices can take a dip in winter, and that’s something you can capitalize on compared to the spring and summer months. People who sell in the winter are also usually selling for a time-sensitive reason, such as job relocation, which can speed up the closing process. The downside to this, as reported by the National Association of Realtors, is the number of houses on the market tends to dwindle, leaving you with fewer options. However, buying a home in the winter can also mean less competition — and less chance of a costly bidding war for the home you want. Besides, any clout you have in terms of price can make up for the shortage of available homes. Just be aware that areas where winter doesn’t come with such a bite may have home prices that remain relatively consistent throughout the year.
The snow can be a big help
A winter home search can provide some details on the home’s condition and the surrounding neighborhood. In a colder climate, lots of snow on the roof means proper insulation, while bare patches and ice dams may mean heat is leaving the house through the roof. Winter is also a good time to see first-hand how often the streets and sidewalks are plowed, and how neighbors manage snow removal on their properties. If you’re searching close to the holidays, you can also find out how festive your potential neighborhood is, which could be a positive or a negative, depending on your preference. I say the more festive, the better!
A great time to renovate
Saving on your home price in winter might lead to extra money in the budget for renovations, or it may mean you’ve picked yourself a “fixer-upper” that you can add value to. The question is: Will any money spent on renovations or repairs in the colder months come at a discount? The answer to this is both yes and no. Many contractors will try to create a steady workload throughout the year, and offering discounts to customers in the slower months is one way to compete. Of course, Investopedia reports some renovations are best kept until the summer months due to their outdoor nature or requirement for warmer weather. Commodity items on the other hand, such as a new furnace to keep you toasty, are unlikely to come with a lower price tag. And speaking of heat, good bets for winter renovations include anything that makes your home more efficient and work smarter, such as windows and extra insulation. These beneficial renovations can also be evident through an immediate reduction in your energy bill, which is great news any time of the year.
Moving mayhem can be made easy
Despite the environmental challenges, there’s one significant upside to moving your belongings in the winter. As winter is generally slower for moving companies, you don’t have to worry that your first choice of dates will be scooped up, which can be a source of stability during a stressful time. Particularly for long moves, keep out the winter clothes and essentials you need in case of delivery delays. If hiring a mover isn’t in the budget, work your charm on all your family and friends. Call in a few favors, and sweeten the deal with food — everyone loves free food — to help you move. Just watch the weather, use lots of shrink wrap to keep your belongings dry, and have everyone wear layers to stay warm. No one knows your family and friends better than you, so assigning people jobs based on their strengths will help with the move. My husband, for example, is barred from packing anything breakable in our moves. Regardless of how you move, or who helps you do it, download our handy, printable moving checklist to make it a smooth move.
While there are positives to buying a home in the winter, it’s more important to move at a time of year that works for you rather than when the best financial deal could happen. Keep tabs on what’s for sale in your area throughout the year to determine when will work best for you.