3 Ways Winter Benefits Home Buyers
Most people think of springtime as the ideal time of year to search for a new house. However, the winter season offers some unique advantages to homebuyers. Below, are three of the top reasons why the off-season can actually be a great time to explore the market.
The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) reports that November, December, January and February are the slowest month for sellers. This means that sellers choosing to list during these times, rather than the busy, competitive spring months, are highly incentivized to sell.
Shannon Kutchek, Broker SRES at Smother’s Realty Group in Illinois shares, “The sellers that I work with during the winter months are usually listing in the off-season because of a life change such as a job relocation. Because they need a faster sale, they’re more open to negotiating a lower price.”
The article “10 Best Days to Buy a Home” by ATTOM Data Solutions, a leading property data company, confirms Shannon’s experience, noting that buyers can expect to save an average of 11.3% by buying a home on December 26.
NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun reports that mortgage rates are currently at historically low levels. At the time this article was written, Bankrate.com was listing 30-year fixed mortgages at 3.70% with an APR of 3.81%.
In addition to the low rates, winter home shoppers can obtain approval for their home loans faster than ever before. Bankrate.com found that “LoanDepot is offering what may be the fastest quick-closing mortgage in the race. Their new product mello smartloan, an end-to-end digital mortgage, offers qualified borrowers a home loan in as few as eight days.”
Buyers can help the loan process go faster by gathering materials together before they approach a lender. Typically, lenders want to see: W-2 forms, bank statements and pay stubs. Buyers should look up their FICO® credit scores for Experian, TransUnion and Equifax so they know ahead of time what kind of rate they’ll be eligible for.
Shannon tells her Midwestern buyers, “The winter months are a great time of year to see how a home is faring in colder, harsher weather conditions.” Buyers can see how well the home is insulated, a chilly surprise that buyers of older homes often discover during their first winter. They can also note how well the heating system is performing and if windows are drafty and need to be replaced.
These insights not only give home buyers the full picture but may help with negotiations. For example, if the home heating system will need to be replaced that cost can be factored into the final offer.
Don’t wait to start house hunting in the spring when the competition is higher, and houses are going off the market faster. Take advantage of the off-season’s benefits and see what’s out there now.