When the weather outside is frightful, buying a home can be delightful!
Spring has long been known as the most popular home buying season, but winter is sure giving it a run for its money. In fact, some experts argue that the colder months are actually the best time to buy a home. Here are just a few reasons why now is the most wonderful time of the year...for real estate.
The spring buying mindset is engrained in many potential buyers and because of that, those who didn’t find a home in the busy, warmer months will likely put their search on hold.
“Things are slowing down as people shift into winter mode and turn their attention to the holidays,” said REALTOR® Rochelle Ridgell, associate broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Professionals, Inc. “If a buyer is trudging through the snow or breaking away from their holiday schedule to look at homes, they’re likely a serious buyer. That’s because many winter buyers are working against a deadline, whether it’s an expiring lease, a relocation, or a contract on their current home.”
While winter buyers may be serious, there are typically fewer of them, which means less competition. That’s a big plus for buyers who’ve faced bidding wars and disappointment in the busier spring and summer months.
“We still have low inventory and high buyer demand, so while things are slowing down, remember, it’s all relative,” said Ridgell. “A winter buyer may still find themselves in a multiple-offer situation, but instead of going up against 10 other offers, they may only be dealing with two or three.”
Just as there are fewer buyers out there, there are also fewer sellers. But winter sellers are also just as serious as winter buyers. Whether it’s because of an impending job transfer, a baby on the way, or tax purposes, winter sellers are typically motivated and potentially more open to negotiation. This means buyers may be able to save some money on their home purchase.
More flexibility and time
Because there are typically fewer sales happening in the winter, it’s possible that buyers may find a smoother and faster transaction process. Many of the professionals involved in a real estate deal — lenders, inspectors, appraisers, title companies, and REALTORS® — are usually (not always) less busy this time of year.
Other service providers like movers, contractors, and tradespeople also tend to be less busy in the holiday season, so you may find they have more availability and may even be offering discounts or incentives.
And Ridgell says there is even more time and flexibility when it comes to the house hunting process.
“In the spring there were so many showings scheduled that we had to get buyers in and out of a property quickly, typically within 30 minutes,” she said. “Because things have slowed a little, we may now get an hour at each property. This gives buyers more time to look through a home and pay attention to things that may be overlooked in a half-hour showing.”
Potential tax incentives
On his website, financial guru Dave Ramsey says there are multiple tax benefits of owning a home, explaining that typically, a homeowner can count on mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums, and real estate taxes being tax-deductible.
Ramsey says, “all of these tax benefits could make a potential home buyer want to get a house bought and closed before the new year,” adding, “and if you’re selling your home and buying another, you could ring in the new year with more tax breaks too!”
A good look at the home’s performance
In Michigan, a home is tested mechanically more in winter than any other time of year. The furnace, the windows, the roof, the insulation…everything is working harder in the cold, so wintertime buyers will get a good idea of how well their potential new home is functioning.
On the other hand, winter weather can sometimes make it hard to thoroughly inspect certain areas of a home. It can be difficult to check out a roof, deck, or patio covered in snow. Landscaping may be covered or look bare, and if you’re looking at a rural property, it can be hard to get a good reading on a drain field, especially if it’s not currently being used. This just means some extra due diligence is needed.
The internet isn’t affected by cold
You probably already know that most buyers use the internet to search for real estate, regardless of the season. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, 93% of buyers in 2020 used the internet to look for homes.
“When buyers call me, they’ve often done their research and have a good idea of the area they want to live and sometimes they already have a specific home in mind,” said Ridgell. “They just need my help putting together the offer and facilitating the purchase process. And with so much of that being done online these days, buyers really don’t have to get out in the cold as much as they used to.”
As they say, there’s no place like home for the holidays. So, if you’re considering a purchase, why not take advantage of these wintertime benefits?
“Yes, you’ll have to spend a bit of time out in the winter weather. But while everyone else is pounding the pavement and scrapping to win a bid next spring, you could be relaxing and drinking a cup of coffee on the deck of your new home,” said Ridgell.
For a list of area real estate professionals, visit the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® website at www.lansing-realestate.com
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: 6 Benefits of Buying a Home in Winter