Every year about this time, some home buyers and sellers throw in the towel. With short days and holidays around the corner, the prospect of buying a house may seem a bit daunting for some people. But for those who stick with it, the prize can be so sweet: the perfect home of your dreams. At a fair price.
And if you get started right away, you could buy a home and be in it by Christmas or Hanukkah.
Year after year, closings in January have shown a slight dip in prices, suggesting that buyers who made offers in November or December got the best deals, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.
“Some of this is driven by the types of houses that sell in the winter months,” Yun told Money Magazine. Families with school-age kids looking for larger, more expensive homes often buy in spring or summer so they can move while the kids are out of school.
With fewer buyers searching, you are less likely to encounter multiple offers and bidding wars in November and December, and more likely to have the ability to negotiate on price. And this year, with interest rates remaining low, that means you may have a lower payment than you would if you waited and interest rates went up.
The flip side of looking for a home in the winter is that typically you’ll find a smaller selection of homes for sale. Yet this year, home buyers have been grappling with reduced inventory all year in many neighborhoods across Los Angeles and Orange counties. At least during the winter, the fact that fewer buyers are competing for the same homes bodes well for potential buyers. And if you look at the chart below, you’ll see that the inventory of homes for sale in Long Beach is actually very comparable to what we experienced during the spring or summer.
Increasing Your Odds
Working with an experienced, well-connected Realtor can help increase your chances to buy a home that best matches your needs. Often real estate agents may be aware of homeowners who are considering putting their home on the market after the holidays. Yet if they had the right offer in hand — perhaps your offer — they might consider moving forward sooner. Make sure your agent knows exactly what you’re looking for so they can check with potential clients and other Realtors to help you find a home that hasn’t even hit the market yet.
What About Selling A Home During the Winter?
You might think that since winter is a great time to buy a home it wouldn’t be a good time to sell. But actually, it is. Yes, spring is the peak home-shopping season, followed by summer. Yet home buyers who are out looking during the winter are typically very motivated, meaning as a seller, you may not have to get your home ready for quite as many showings and open houses before you land an offer. And the fact that the inventory is low now can benefit you as a seller. If you wait until spring to list your home, you may be faced with more competition. And if interest rates rise, it could also impact prices.
Winter can be an especially good time for home sellers who are also moving up or downsizing. Since you’re less likely to run into a bidding war when you make an offer, you are more likely to get a contingent offer accepted. Making your purchase contingent upon the successful closing of your current home can help eliminate the necessity of making two moves.
Tip for Winter Home Buyers:
Ask your real estate agent to help you find off-market properties, whether they are expired listings, pocket listings, or the result of approaching home owners of homes that match your criteria and are in your target neighborhood. Make sure that you’re pre-approved and ready to move forward once you find the right home.
Tip for Winter Home Sellers:
Brighten your home. Short days and dreary skies can make homes a little gloomy. Make sure window coverings are open, lights are on, and create an inviting feel by placing inexpensive cool-weather plants in flower beds or pots near the front door.
How Can We Help?
If you’re wondering whether buying or selling a home this season makes sense based on your individual situation, we’d be happy to provide you with a no-obligation consultation. Simply fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.