Many people believe that spring or summer are the best times to either start looking for a new home or think about building a new home. It really does make sense, especially in locations that experience colder winters, as the warmer weather is much more conducive to the home buying process. Potential buyers are ready to start looking after being inside all winter, and a lot of sellers know that, so they wait until the first signs of spring to put their homes on the market. Plus, for families with school age children, buying in the spring usually means moving in the summer (since the process can take two or three months from initial offer to closing), and that means everyone is all unpacked and ready to begin a new school year; there’s no pulling kids out midway through the year and moving them to a new place where the academics may be different and they don’t know anyone.
So: more inventory and more prospective buyers means that spring and summer are the best times to buy or sell (or build) a home, right? Well, for some buyers and sellers, sure. But for everyone? Maybe not.
Fall and Winter Real Estate
Believe it or not, fall and winter are excellent times to buy or sell a home, even in locations where the temperature drops after Labor Day. That’s because this is usually when the serious buyers and sellers are on the market. Sellers are highly motivated, and there’s usually not as much inventory, which means competition is way down. In fact, if you’re trying to sell your home in this supposed off-season and you get two serious buyers, you could find yourself in the middle of a bidding war for your home.
Similarly, buying a home in the fall and winter means the possibility of a good price, as well as a lot less competition from other buyers. And while it’s true that you may find yourself moving into your new home in snowy and blustery weather, the good news is that you’ll be fully settled in time to plant a beautiful spring garden. Plus, you’ll avoid the usual springtime and summer crowds of buyers wanting to look at homes, qualify for mortgages, and utilize other services related to buying and selling a home.
Things Ramp Up After January 1
If you’re sold on the idea of buying or selling a home in the fall or winter, when should you get started? In general, early to mid fall is perfect. September, October, and November are when the casual buyers and sellers are off the market, leaving only the serious and the motivated to either list a home on the market or look to buy. December is typically slower, as people are thinking about their holiday plans more than they’re thinking about buying or selling a home. Then again, if a buyer or seller is serious enough, you may find that December is the ideal month to get the outcome you’re after.
Then, for most realtors, the spring season starts right after the new year. People who have been waiting to finish up with the holidays to either list or look will get started. These individuals tend to be much more serious than the spring listers and lookers; in fact, many of them hope to have their home transaction completed before the market gets crowded. As a buyer or a seller in January, you’ll get a good jump on the season. There’s a bit more inventory and a few more potential buyers and sellers, but it’s nowhere near the level you’ll find in the late spring and early summer.
Build in the Fall
If your plan is to build your own home rather than buy an existing one, the fall is actually the perfect time to get started. It may not seem like it, especially if you live in a cooler climate — wouldn’t that mean your home construction would be interrupted by winter weather? — but in fact, the timing can all work out quite well. The construction process can take six months, on average, so a fall start means you can move in late spring, which is about perfect. Tom Molidor of Molidor’s Custom Builders (based in both Clarendon Hills, Illinois and Naples, Florida) explains, “I love to start a home in the fall because I know that the homeowner is going to be in it typically in April or May.”
And to answer most buyers’ biggest concern, yes, builders can work through most cold weather! In fact, if they’re able to pour the foundation before the snow flies and get started on the structure, they can get quite a lot done before the wind, cold, and snow puts things to a halt. By the time the rain hits in the early spring, the outside of the home should be complete, and the interior can be completed. The driveway can be poured once the frigid weather is gone for good, and you’ll be ready to move in soon after the robins are back in town.