The Pros and Cons of Winter House Hunting
Whether it's June or January, buying a home is an exciting time in any person's life. And while the majority of house hunters will choose to search for their next home in spring or summer if given a choice, there's no reason to postpone the search during winter. In fact, although snow covers the majority of homes and their yards during winter, there are some benefits to conducting your search through the colder months.
Continue reading below for a list of winter house hunting pros and cons.
Real estate trends show that most people shop for their next home in the spring and summer. And if you’re planning on being one of those people, I suggest you think again. While everyone focuses on spring and summer, there’s guaranteed to be fewer buyers in the winter. This means less competition when it comes time to buy and less of a chance of losing out on that perfect place due to being outbid or having the seller choose a different buyer. Although this can still certainly happen at any time of the year, in my experience, it’s a lot less likely to be your fate when shopping in the winter.
As a result of fewer serious buyers, it also means that supply (number of houses on the market) will more than likely exceed demand (the number of serious buyers). This means you more than likely won’t have to overpay to secure the home you truly want and will end up paying fair market value.
Winter is a slow time of year no matter what. Most people go to bed extra early and choose to stay indoors where it’s warm and comfortable rather than venture out into the cold. The same can be said about the real estate market during these months too. Due to there being less demand for homes at this time of year, sellers typically see fewer showings, offers and interested parties than they would in the spring and summer. And this ends up working to the buyer's advantage. During the winter, sellers can get quite anxious which can lead to the will to negotiate. Whether it be on price, closing costs, closing date or even conditions, buyers tend to luck out when it comes time to negotiate. As a fair warning, winter is generally not the best time for sellers.
With fewer buyers comes less competition. This means once you find that perfect place to call home, there’s less of a chance of losing the home to another buyer than there is in the spring and summer. And with less competition and fewer offers, there’s less of a chance of a bidding war and overpaying.
More Attention from Your Realtor
As much as we wish we could help one family at a time, a realtor’s time is typically divided up among multiple families during the spring and summer. And while the same is still true in the winter, there’s a fewer number of people demanding our time. This allows us to devote more time to you and your search without being pulled away.
Although the benefits listed above paint a pretty good picture for winter house hunting, I would be lying if I said there weren’t any cons. While they’re certainly not as crucial as the benefits, they are still worth considering if you especially don’t enjoy the winter months.
As I mentioned above, winter typically brings fewer homes to market than the rest of the year. And while this can be ok for buyers who are flexible, it can drag the buying process out for buyers who aren’t. With fewer homes on the market, buyers may have to wait if they can’t find that perfect place.
Inspections are Tougher
A home inspection is a crucial part of the home buying process. And while home inspectors are trained to be able to do their job in any weather, bad weather can sometimes keep them from accessing certain points of a house. This can be because something is buried or frozen under the snow, but it can also simply be because it's dangerous. Take the roof, for instance, home inspectors won't climb up onto an icy roof, nor should they, so it can leave a little bit of uncertainty in the scheme of things. It's important to note, however, that it takes rather nasty weather to put a stop to a home inspector.
As a result of hibernating homeowners, neighbourhoods end up hibernating in the winter as well. This can make it tough for potential buyers to get a sense of the community and decide if it's somewhere they can call home. Sure, shops and stores will still be open, but there's less of a chance of bumping into potential neighbours and getting their opinion on the neighbourhood.
Winter means boots, coats, hats, mitts and scarves. And while these things do a great job at keeping us warm, they can be rather annoying to take off and put back on multiple times a day when visiting various homes. It may seem like a silly excuse now, but after the fourth or fifth time in a day, it becomes the truth.
As you can see, despite what most people say and think, house hunting in the winter has a lot of benefits. And if you happened to be one of the people who believed house hunting was only for the spring and summer, I hope that you've now decided to rethink your decision. Sure, there will always be those who prefer to wait until spring and summer, but I strongly recommend you consider starting your search now. If you have any questions regarding anything discussed above, the home buying/selling process or would like to get started on your search, I encourage you to reach out to me by phone, email or even social media and I would be more than happy to assist you.