What is the Best Time of Year to Buy a Home?

The housing market is open 365 days a year—so how do you know when the right time is to buy a house? Many home buyers are curious about home price fluctuations throughout the year. While it’s important to understand how the market changes from season to season, there are a lot of variables to consider in addition to home prices.

Not only do you want to understand how the housing market changes, but you also want to plan for a move whenever it works well for you and your family. If you are struggling with figuring out what the best time of the year to buy a home is, keep reading to learn how the seasons can affect your home search and purchase.

Buying a Home in the Winter

More people tend to shop for a home in the spring or summer when the weather is nice and the yards are green. However, looking for a home in the winter has its unexpected advantages. Your competition with other buyers is at its lowest during the winter. This makes scheduling a showing of the home and putting in an offer on the home much less stressful. Fewer buyers mean it’s less likely that you are going to get in a bidding war with another buyer. In some markets, home prices may even dip lower during the winter months. Another advantage is that even though the yard may be covered with snow or ice, you are seeing the home at its “most vulnerable” so it’s easier to determine if it has any vulnerabilities during the winter months (leaks, water damage, heating problems, etc.).

Of course, buying a home in the winter means that if you have kids you could potentially disrupt their school year with a big move. There also may be fewer homes for you to peruse because a lot of sellers put their homes on the market in the spring and summer. Moving can also be a pain during the winter if you live in a region that is hit hard with snow, ice, and cold temperatures.

Buying a Home in the Spring

Spring is without a doubt the most popular time of the year to purchase a home—and it’s easy to see why. In the springtime the weather is starting to get better, the yards are starting to get greener, and there is a lot of inventory to choose from. Springtime is also a great time to move because the school year is coming to a close, which makes it a little easier to get kids settled into a new routine. However, the beautiful weather and the plentiful supply of houses on the market comes with some caveats. Spring home buying can be fiercely competitive. Buyers are more likely to get into a bidding war in the spring, especially if it’s in a desirable location, which means paying full asking price or more for the home.

To to give yourself a better chance of snatching your dream home against the competition in the spring months, prepare as much as possible. Get pre-approved by a lender so that you can act quickly on a home you really like. Don’t mull over a decision too much on a house during the spring because chances are someone else is taking a look at it at the same time. Though the houses may be plentiful, you should think about what kind of home buying experience you may want before starting to look in the spring.

Buying a Home in the Summer

Summer is a very popular time to buy a home because there is a lot of inventory, the yards are at their greenest, and it’s a good time to move kids and get settled before the school year begins in the fall. The houses on the market usually look their best in the summertime, with beautiful landscaping and plenty of light coming inside the house. Summer is an easy time to move because the weather is far more predictable and things are a bit slower in family schedules.

However, just like spring home purchasing, summer buying tends to get competitive. Prices may heat up and buyers may be motivated to outbid each other to snag the house they’re after. So, similar to spring, be prepared by being pre-approved and know exactly how much home you can afford price-wise. If you see something you like and want to purchase, get in there quickly to increase your chances of success. In the summertime it’s also crucial to inspect the house carefully. Because the houses look their best in the drier months it’s easier to conceal things like water damage.

Buying a Home in the Fall

Fall is a very popular time of year to look for a home—though not as popular as spring or summer—and it typically yields a lot of homes out on the market. Many buyers are motivated by year-end tax breaks for homeowners (such as mortgage interest or property taxes) in their decision to buy a home in the fall. Though the yards are starting to turn brown and the leaves are beginning to fall, homes can look very charming in the autumn light and it may be easier for homebuyers to see any obvious signs of water damage or warping in the fall months.

Competition for buying is a little less than in the more popular spring and summer months, which can mean a low stress buying experience. Often there are lots of homes on the market in the fall that didn’t sell in the summer, so it’s likely you’ll be able to strike a good deal with a homeowner who is motivated to sell.

However, buying a home in the fall might disrupt your kids’ school year and can be a little bit stressful if you plan on hosting relatives for the holidays. Moving in the fall, however, can be a breeze because of the cooler weather and the lowered competition for moving trucks and boxes (versus the summer months).

Know What’s Best for You

No matter what season you choose to shop for a home, it’s important that you know what your budget is and that you are prepared financially to make this big step. The best thing to do is make sure that the home fits the needs of you and your family, no matter the season.

About the Author
Benjamin Feldman Director of Content