5 Tips for Buying a Home in the Off-Season

Buying a home during the slower winter months has its drawbacks, but it also has its advantages.

Couple walks through a home with a realtor.

The conventional wisdom is that spring and summer months are the prime seasons for buying and selling houses. However, even though the market has cooled off along with the outdoor temperatures, shopping for homes during the winter months can offer a number of benefits. These tips can help you on your wintertime homebuying quest.

Use the season to your advantage

During the winter months, sellers often are eager to sell as swiftly as possible, especially if their homes have been sitting on the market since the summer or fall. This may translate into lower sale prices compared to the “hot” spring and summer real estate season. It also gives buyers like you a stronger negotiating position; sellers may be more likely to consider lower bids if they’re focused on making a quicker sale. Additionally, the pool of buyers often is much smaller during the winter months, so you’ll have less competition when you make your offer.

Flexibility can pay off

Even though wintertime sellers are highly motivated to get their home sold quickly, they probably would prefer not to move during the hectic holiday season. As a buyer, you can use this to your advantage. By allowing the sellers to comfortably remain in their home until after the holidays, you’re in a good position to get a better deal.

Home inspections require extra vigilance

On the one hand, the slower real estate market might mean that home inspectors are more readily available. But on the other hand, wintertime presents unique challenges. A heavy layer of snow and ice can make it difficult to thoroughly examine the roof, foundation and porch. You also can’t test the air conditioning if outdoor temperatures are below 60 degrees. When reviewing the condition report, keep an eye out for the age and condition of the roof and air conditioner, and ask the seller questions if you have concerns.

Watch your holiday spending

The winter holiday season often is synonymous with spending. So, try to resist the urge to splurge. Those high credit card bills could have a negative impact on your debt-to-income ratio, which in turn can affect your mortgage preapproval. If you know in advance you’ll be looking for homes in the winter months, consider budgeting for the holidays ahead of time.

Keep an open mind

Judging a property’s looks during the winter months can be tricky. The leaves are gone, flowers aren’t blooming, the lawn is all covered with snow and ice, and the shorter daylight hours may lend the interior a drab appearance. Before making your decision, try to use your imagination when it comes to envisioning the yard and the home’s interior all year round. Also, it’s a smart idea to ask the seller for pictures of the home during other seasons.

Ready to start the home buying process? Get started by exploring loan options, then get a customized estimate with our rate quote tool. When you’re ready, start your application to get pre-approved. And if you need help, our experienced mortgage loan officers will support you every step of the way.

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