While spring and early summer reign as peek home-shopping seasons, there’s no good reason why you can’t find that perfect house in the middle of winter, too. In fact, you might even get a good deal from homeowners who are anxious to sell as soon as possible and don’t want to wait for the spring thaw.
Buyers looking for a new home in winter have less competition, since fewer people are looking. That means fewer multiple-offer situations. Plus, sellers who keep their homes on the market during the winter are often more motivated and willing to make a deal. The downside is that there are fewer homes for sale.
Looking at homes in winter, however, requires a different strategy, so consider the following before you start your search:
- Ask for Exterior Photos From Warmer Months: Winter weather may prevent you from getting a good sense of a home’s yard, particularly, if it’s covered in snow. Make sure you’re informed as to the exact size of the plot, patios and decks, and ask your agent to show you pictures of the yard and home’s exterior in the spring and summer, if there aren’t any posted online.
- Document the condition of things you can’t see: Ask when the roof was last replaced, whether the septic tank has been serviced and when the deck was cleaned. Ask the sellers for receipts or copies of building permits to document their claims.
- Is It Warm & Cozy: While you can experience the quality of the home’s insulation and heating system first-hand in the winter, you won’t be able to get a feel for the central air. Find out how old the system is, when it was last maintained and make sure the inspector takes an especially close look.
- Let There Be Light: The natural lighting in a home can be drastically different in winter compared to summer. Take time to notice the number of leafy trees on the property to get an idea of how much shade cover there will be when summer arrives. This will also give you a sense of the leaf clean-up job on deck for fall.
The good thing about buying a home in winter is that you’ll be all moved in and ready to enjoy the warm weather when it rolls around. So throw on an extra layer and start your search!