The most popular time to buy or a sell a home tends to run from late spring to early September. For many years, May was considered the best time to sell, but recent data shows March as the leading month. Seasonality affects the house market, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong if you buy or sell outside of peak season. Buying a home during the traditional “off” season could work for you depending on where you live, the real estate market and other personal circumstances.
What is the off season for moving?
May, June, July and August are typically the busiest moving months of the year. This means the off season for moving is typically the fall till the end of February or mid-March. Early fall and early spring can still be a good time to move, but many people avoid harsh weather conditions during the winter.
Winter is tough for a few reasons. The weather doesn’t always make for a convenient back and forth, especially while moving heavy materials. It also isn’t exactly conducive for house hunting. Winter is also tough because it’s the middle of the school year. If you have children, a move during the winter can be quite cumbersome. That being said, there are many redeeming qualities to moving during the off season.
Why you might want to move off season
Moving during off season could be a good life hack if you remain savvy about it. First, let’s break down what a move might look like each season:
Moving in the fall
Moving during the fall can be a pleasant experience, mostly for the weather. You don’t have the burden of summer heat or the debilitating chill that comes with winter. You may even find some good deals during this time. Deals doesn’t only mean homes, but moving services and other costs that come with your journey too.
If you have a family, moving during the fall may be difficult because of the school calendar year. If you sold a house end of spring or during the summer, you may need access to your new home sooner than the fall.
Moving in the winter
The winter months are the least popular time to buy and sell a house, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. It’s usually cheaper to move during the winter months. There may be less competition on the housing market, which could mean less worry over bidding wars. Moving companies might have discounts and more flexibility for your schedule compared to peak season. The winter is especially ideal if you live in a mild climate.
On the other hand, moving during the winter isn’t always convenient. It’s the middle of the school year and inclement weather could get in the way. Although there could be less competition, there may be fewer houses on the market to choose from.
Moving in the spring
Moving during springtime can be an extremely positive experience. By March, the housing market starts to pick back up, but you don’t get the same rush you do in peak summer months. Similar to the winter, moving companies and other logistical costs will be rolling in from the off-peak winter months and will likely be cheaper than the summertime. On top of this, you have the spring weather to work around.
As the month trickles into May, the housing market shoots back up and prices can surge. In addition to this, it’s still the school calendar year so moving during this time may be tough with children.
Moving in the summer
Ah summertime, peak season. The school year is over, the days are longer and the market is hot—just like the weather. If you’re selling your house, now is a great time since demand goes up. If you are moving now is also a great time because the days are longer and you don’t have to worry about school.
The weather is usually not a worry during this time as well, depending on where you live. Summer months may offer more relaxed work schedules and a better social scene. This means more flexibility for your move and more opportunities to make new friends if you’re moving somewhere new.
On the contrary, this is also the most expensive time to move. About 70 percent of moves take place from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. It can be hard to find a moving company that works with your schedule, and it will likely be more expensive than any other time in the year.
What to consider for your off season move
If you choose to move outside of the peak summer season, there are a few things you should keep in mind. The biggest thing to consider is there will likely be less homes on the market. If money isn’t of the highest concern to you in your move and you’re ready to deal with higher summer prices then it might be worth waiting.
On the contrary, there are still a lot of great houses for sale in the winter and you may even score a better deal on them. Life happens and people still need to buy or sell year-round, so take these market trends with a grain of salt.
Your move may be even more productive during the winter months. Less people out and about means less travel time and more moving time. The colder weather may put a pep in everyone’s step that isn’t possible in the heat of the summer.
Your off season move may also mean weather delays, children in the middle of a school year and an overall less relaxed time of year. If you are moving locally, then an off season move might be worth it for you. If you are moving across the country, then that might not be the case.
It’s important to assess what makes the most sense for you. If you’re looking to move on a budget, can work around the weather and don’t mind an overall slower market then an off season move could be a financial steal.