Real estate agents around our area typically tell everyone that spring and summer are the “best” or “prime” seasons for house hunting and moving. This can be true, as people are more likely to be out and about and ready to get out and shop for homes when the weather is nice. Most sellers also realize their homes, driveways, and yards look more appealing when they are not buried under snow and ice! However, if you are a home buyer or a property investor, there are some very important reasons to buy a home during the cold winter months…
Less Buyers = Less Competition
One of the most obvious benefits of winter house hunting is the fact that less buyers are active! It’s the exact real estate wisdom that says to shop in the spring and summer, since that’s when all the new listings come out and nobody wants to go out house hunting in cold weather and blizzards. But, if you are an active home buyer, doesn’t this mean there’s less competition for you this winter, as other buyers hibernate and wait for spring? Well yes! There is less activity, less competition, and the chances of running into multiple offers or over-asking price offers is greatly diminished for homes sitting on the market through winter. This means, if you are in a position to buy a new home or invest in property, the winter can be prime time to make a deal!
Sellers Are Motivated
When you look out at sub-zero Minnesota temperatures and everything covered in snow, does anyone think, “Wow it would be fun to move this week?” Well no, it’s just that many sellers are selling their homes and moving in the winter because they HAVE to move – not because they WANT to move. Personal changes in life circumstances are often what prompts these sellers to move in the winter months, even though the market isn’t necessarily in their favor. And real estate agents know that our slow winter months are when sellers are more willing to negotiate; whether it is on the sale price, closing costs, closing date, or other terms, sellers will try to sweeten the terms of the sale, just to entice cold weather buyers. Again, if you are an active home buyer you are in a position for savings and a favorable negotiation.
Reduced Home Prices
When the market has fewer buyers, the supply of existing homes on the market will exceed the seasonal demand. This time of year it usually results in home selling prices being lower that they are during the spring and summer months of the season. The homes available this winter are priced to sell or they have been on the market all year and could end up selling for much lower than asking price. Many of these homes can be viewed online or we can go video preview a home for you. This is a great way to narrow down the options before you brave the cold weather and setup in-person showings. So, when demand is down in the winter and you are a home buyer or investor, you can often be in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiating a great deal.
Opportunity to See How a Home Withstands the Cold
When you live in the north country, we spend half the year dealing with chilly temperatures and snow. This means that it’s important to have an energy efficient home that can withstand the elements. When the temperature is comfortable outside, it’s hard to tell how a home will stand up to harsh winters, but if you house hunt in the chilly winter months, you can see how well the house is insulated and spot issues you wouldn’t have noticed in warmer months. You may notice the long driveway, drafty windows, snow on the roof, or old furnace that can’t keep up with the heating expectations. Either way, as a buyer you are able to see some of the concerning areas and you can pass on the house, negotiate some of these upgrades with the seller, or have these issues addressed after you move into the home.
More Attention & Flexibility
During the winter months, everyone involved in the home-buying and moving process seems to have a more flexible schedule. This winter especially is turning out to be a season with more lockdowns, less in-person events, and more downtime than ever before. You can count on us as your Realtors to represent you, but the other professionals you will need to work with include, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, closing companies, home inspectors, moving companies, real estate agents, and cleaning professionals. It seems that all these real estate service professionals have less activity and clients backed up throughout the winter months, especially around the holidays. You will also find sellers are more flexible with closing dates and concessions during the cold, simply trying to get a deal done so they can move forward instead of waiting for spring weather. As a buyer, you seem to get a higher level of attention and flexibility from all parties involved, and again it’s simply because there are less real estate transactions this time of year. With all this downtime, make sure you are the home buyer who continues shopping and touring new homes; then you can get there before the competing buyers even get out and start shopping!
So if you’re a home buyer who was just planning to spend the winter scoping out online listings and waiting for spring, just remember, if you are ready to buy there are some very important reasons to be an active home buyer or property investor during the cold winter months. So let’s fire up the coffee, put on your winter coat, jump in the 4-wheel drive, brave the cold weather, and let’s get house hunting!