Terrible weather can make a winter home search uniquely stressful. We can’t make it any warmer out there, but here are a few things to consider if you’re buying a home in the winter months.
Understand the winter market
There is less competition during the winter, according to Rocket Homes, so this may be the best time to kick your search into high gear. A bidding war is less likely in winter, and a successful offer acceptance could come easier than if you wait until summer.
Prices may even be lower because sellers, too, are dealing with fewer prospects—but you also have to remember there’s a reason that other potential buyers aren’t in the fray with you: Winter is a busy time full of holidays and family activities. Those factors will also impact the availability of sellers and real estate agents, so the process may not move as fast as you want.
“Usually, the property market slows down in December as estate agents close for Christmas and homeowners put moving plans on hold until the New Year. Don’t be concerned if you notice there are less properties on the market. Things will pick back up in January,” says Steve Mariner, property sales director at David Wilson Homes.
View the home twice, especially in the winter
In an ideal world, you always want to view the home a few times before committing to live there for years and throwing all your money at it, but that’s not always possible when you’re in a rush and competing with a bunch of other bidders. With the slow-down of the winter season, you have a little bit more of a chance to see the property a few times.
According to Mariner, it’s “even more important” to look at a home twice in winter because you want to see how dark it gets early in the day and suss out how it feels at night. Viewing a home in the winter has a few advantages over looking at it in the summer, too. Signs of disrepair—especially from water and weather—may be more evident.
“Particularly when viewing older properties, you should keep an eye out for peeling wallpaper, dark spots on the paintwork, or excessive condensation on the windows. Damp also has a distinctive musty smell, so watch out for that, too,” said Mariner.
Weather can impact the closing
Keep your timing expectations flexible, as winter weather can really mess things up. For instance, some inspections may be impossible to complete due to bad weather, which can delay your closing. Communicate with your real estate agent often to head off any unexpected hold-ups.