Here in New England, winter is the slowest time of year in the real estate world. But there are some compelling reasons why shopping for a house in the winter time is actually a pretty smart move! In this article I’m going to go over some of the pros and cons of house hunting in the winter time and hopefully, help you determine whether this is the right strategy for you.
Things slow down in winter for real estate and there are many obvious reasons for this: shorter days, colder weather, and all those holidays! If you have school age family members, the thought of moving during the academic year is not great, and who wants to be carrying boxes over ice and snow anyways? If these cons aren’t enough to scare you off, consider this: Most sellers don’t list in winter for all the same reasons, and often their homes don’t show as well during this time of year – road salt never did anything for curb appeal. All of that is to say, if you’re a buyer looking for houses in the winter time prepare for low inventory and slim pickings.
I know, I know….wasn’t I supposed to be convincing you why winter house hunting is actually good idea? Yes. Yes it is, (depending on your situation). Let me explain.
Think about it, if you were a seller, and you knew all of this information about winter being a crappy time to list (because your Realtor would say as much) why would you still decide to list in the winter!? If you knew that you could probably get more buyers, more money, and a faster sale with better terms in the spring, why not wait?
I’ll tell you why: TIME.
It’s not always the case , but in my experience when people list their properties in the winter in New England it’s usually a time sensitive motivation. Maybe they bought another house and need to get out asap because they’re paying two mortgages, maybe they’re getting a divorce, or settling an estate, or they need to relocate for a job. There’s a ton of reasons why someone would need to sell their house fast and may not be so concerned with getting top dollar.
That’s where you come in. If you can see past the road salt and brave the cold dark afternoons of February in Massachusetts, you’ll have a way better chance of beating out the competition because they’re all at home snuggled up under their electric blankets. They said “Alas! the autumn market kicked out butts and we are taking the winter off, we will get back to the search in Spring.” They quit while it was hard (fall), took a snooze during the only time when there’s a chance of it being easier (winter) and get back to it when it’s forecast to be the hardest of all (spring). The thought seems to be, when inventory is high, one’s luck is high too… but I’m not so sure that’s true. Having a lot of options doesn’t mean anything if none of them are actually accessible to you.
Now earlier I said this depends on your situation. What I mean by that is, if you’ve got a nice comfortable budget and can make cash offers way over asking and don’t really care about home inspections then sure, you’ll probably do just fine taking the winter off and looking in the spring. But for most, this is not the case. If you have a limited budget and you want to get an edge on the competition, get out there while everyone else is taking a break.
After all, if the last few years of brutal competition as taught us anything it’s this:
You Snooze, You Lose.
OK, a part of me hates that I ended with that idiom, but I just cant help myself so thanks for reading. I hope this got the wheels turning for you or someone you know who needs a house!
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