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When is the Best Time to Buy a House?

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When is the best time to buy a house? The short answer is: When you’re personally and financially ready. When you’re prepared and can make a move at your leisure, the winter housing market typically offers the lowest prices, while the summer offers the most choices. The general rule: As the weather warms up, so does the real estate market.

Buying a house in the winter

The coldest time of the year — typically full of bad weather and great holidays — is a brilliant time to buy, if you’re looking to save money.

Homeowners selling during the winter are typically strongly motivated to sell and willing to negotiate house prices and sweeten the transaction by agreeing to perks, like including appliances in the sale. The entire real estate market is leaner during the winter months, so you may find that real estate agents, inspectors and lenders have lower prices and are able to accomplish things, such as processing your paperwork, more quickly.

The downsides are that there is less inventory — fewer people are selling — and you may have to brave bad weather to do home tours. Home inspectors may also have a harder time checking things like the roof if it’s covered in snow and ice.

Buying a house in the fall

The fall is a great time to buy a house if you’re looking to balance saving money with having a larger pool of home options.

After the summer rush, the housing market generally has fewer buyers, so you have less competition. Most homeowners selling during the fall are also motivated, wanting to make a deal quickly, as the school year and holidays are coming up. And while there will be less inventory, the market will likely still contain plenty of options for you, more so than in winter.

Buying a house in the spring

Housing supply and demand pent up during the winter months begin to thaw out in the spring.

As a buyer during this time, you’ll find an increasing amount of housing options entering the real estate market. You don’t want to hold out too long for your perfect home to appear, though, as more homebuyers are also entering the market. Be ready with a mortgage preapproval.

Buying a house in the summer

The summer is when the housing market roars. If you look to buy a house during the summer, you’ll have a plethora of options, but you need to be ready to quickly make a strong offer.

During this time, prices are likely to be higher for everything from the home itself to inspectors and other providers, along with the closing costs you’ll pay real estate agents. The closing process can also take longer as more homebuyers jockey to get the keys to their dream home.

Other homebuying factors to consider

Seasonality aside, here are other dynamic elements to consider.

Are you ready to buy a home?

Are you ready to put down roots? While you can feasibly sell your home at any time, home ownership is typically a long-term thing; most mortgages last 15 to 30 years.

What does the future look like for you? Job security is important, along with your family’s future needs. You may want an extra room that aging parents could move into, or you might desire a home in a great school district for your kids.

How are your finances? Are you able to get a good deal on a mortgage loan given your debt, savings and credit score? If you have any questions, you can talk to a housing counselor who’s approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Is the current market outlook good for homebuyers?

The current real estate market is a seller’s market, and the outlook for homebuyers doesn’t look favorable, though it may change in the coming months and years.

Demand is cooling off in the current housing market — home sales are down 8.6% year-over-year as of May 2022, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) — but this is because of record-high home prices, increasing mortgage rates and the fact that lenders have yet to really loosen credit requirements they tightened at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Keep in mind that despite the negative elements, buying is often a better financial choice than renting. Here’s advice on how to choose whether to purchase a home and a rent versus buy calculator to help you run the numbers.

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