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Best time to buy a house: Your guide to “buying season”

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    In life, timing is everything. Relationships, jobs, vacations and major life decisions (like buying a home) often depend on timing. This begs the question: When is the best time to buy a house?

    While the seasons do affect supply, demand and price trends, there may not be one best time to buy a house. You may be wondering why that is. Simply put, the right time for you may be different than the right time for someone else. Some buyers may be flexible on when they buy a house, while others might be working with tighter timelines. Still, there may be some windows when buying and selling activity tends to pick up slightly. Let’s take a closer look at the idea of “buying season.”

    When is buying season?

    Buying season is somewhat of an abstract concept. Afterall, there are always homes to buy since homes are sold and bought year-round. That said, “buying season” is often determined by periods when the housing market is the busiest, which often happens during springtime.

    Buying a house in the spring

    There are a few reasons why springtime brings a busy market:

    • Warmer weather: As the weather warms up and flowers begin blooming, homes start to gain more curb appeal. Prospective buyers start to spend more time outdoors, providing more chances to spot their potential new home.
    • End of the school year: The end of the school year may give families more flexibility to move, as it wouldn’t disrupt a busy school schedule.
    • Tax season: Some buyers may wait to make a purchase until they’ve received their tax returns, as that money could potentially go toward a down payment or moving costs.

    Do note that buying season may also depend on where you live. In warmer climates, the seasons may not have as big of an effect on buying season as places that experience harsher winters.

    Buying a house in the winter

    Colder winters may bring a slowing housing market due to:

    • Fewer buyers: Due to harsh weather, people tend not to leave their homes, attend open houses or want to go through the moving process. All these factors combine to make it less likely that someone will buy a home in the winter.
    • Lower inventory: Because buyers may be less likely to view homes, sellers may avoid listing their home for sale during the winter. Both supply and demand are down in this scenario.
    • Difficulties inspecting homes: If you’re buying a home during the winter and experience harsh weather conditions, it may be more difficult to visit and inspect the home. For example, snow may be covering the rooftop and the AC system isn’t turned on for a test run.

    While the springtime may provide a more suitable environment for buying a home, it doesn’t mean winter is down for the count. Those who do list their homes during the winter may be more desperate to sell. This could potentially mean they’ll settle for a lower price, giving buyers negotiating power.

    We’ve covered spring and winter, but you might be thinking, “Wait a second, what about summer and fall?” Let’s have a look.

    Buying a house in the summer

    Housing trends from springtime tend to trickle into the summer months, since some of the same factors remain at play:

    • Warm weather: Depending on where you live, the warm weather may be a pleasant time to house hunt. In some cases, hotter climates in some parts of the world may render this season just as unbearable as a harsh winter. Overall, however, summertime tends to still be busier than winter, especially in moderate climates with pleasant summers.
    • A race to sell: As the fall and holiday seasons start approaching, sellers are typically itching to get their home off the market and buyers eager to begin their move. This may mean competition is still high and people are looking to move quickly — literally and figuratively.
    • Opportunity for deals: As August approaches and the impending holiday season threatens to cool the market down along with the weather, remaining sellers may become more willing to strike a deal rather than potentially wait out another winter.

    Buying a house in the fall

    While the summer housing market tends to follow the trends of springtime’s buying season, fall typically acts as a precursor to the wintertime:

    • Beginning of the school year: There may be fewer buyers on the market as the school year begins again and families try to settle in before sending the kids off to school. On the flipside, if you are looking to buy during this time, you may have less competition and the opportunity to negotiate a better deal.
    • Holiday season: As Thanksgiving and winter holidays approach, sellers are less likely to put their homes on the market and buyers are less likely to have time to move — timing is everything, remember? This means the market may slow down, but prices may go down too as sellers become more desperate to sell.
    • Fall weather: Fall presents a unique opportunity to assess a home in a moderate climate. As the weather cools down and the leaves start to change, you may assess how the home reacts as the appliances experience the transition from warm to cooler weather.

    Should you wait to buy a house?

    After considering seasonal trends along with your personal circumstances, there may be reasons to wait to buy a house. If you want to buy in a housing market where there’s greater supply, for instance, you may want to buy during the spring or summer. If you’re looking to make a quick purchase before the holiday season and don’t mind moving during the start of the school year, the fall off season may be a good time to strike a deal. Depending on where you live, harsh weather conditions and low supply could make the wintertime a harder time to house hunt, but you may experience less competition and lower prices.

    In summary

    The “best” time to buy a house, sometimes called buying season, is impacted by supply and demand in the housing market. During the warmer months, you may find higher supply and higher demand. As holidays approach and the weather cools down, the housing market may slow down. Ultimately, however, the timing of your purchase will likely depend on what’s right for your circumstances. While buying seasons may fluctuate, the housing market runs year-round.

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