The fall shopping season is in full swing, but before you know it, the winter selling season will be here. With this in mind, many agents may start to think they’re in for a little bit of a lull, but that doesn’t have to be the case. New data confirms what many in the industry have long suspected: The best time to save on a home purchase is the late autumn and into winter, and that can help to facilitate more home sales even in these fallow months.
In nearly every major metro area of the U.S., home prices peak around June and July, and start to drop off once fall arrives, according to new research from NerdWallet. The average sales price fell nearly 3 percent in fall compared with summer, bringing more than $8,300 in savings to the average buyer. But the drops got even steeper in January and February, and agents can highlight this fact to buoy sales after the holiday season wraps up.
Why do some homebuyers wait?
In 48 of the 50 cities examined, sales prices hit their lowest point in January or February. The other two cities saw the lowest prices in March and April, still ahead of the traditional spring buying season. In general, the average savings available in the first two full months of winter was about 8.45 percent in comparison with summer highs, bringing even more savings to hopeful shoppers.
This fact means bargain hunters can get into the market when it’s not nearly as busy to potentially lock in a sterling deal. Agents who highlight this fact with concrete numbers may be in line to benefit most from the annual lull.
“I think there’s a certain amount of inertia that exists in the market because people have been told the best time to buy is when the most homes are on the market,” Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Realtor.com, told NerdWallet. “When, actually, depending on what your goals and objectives are, the actual reverse could be true.”
Why it’s wise to buy in winter
Many families choose to buy even when prices are high simply because of convenience, according to Trulia. Many families have kids in school during winter, and home shopping might not be easy for them to squeeze in. Further, with summer shoppers, sellers who want to pursue real estate sales often have a hopeful deadline of the start of school. As such, many homes see their prices marked down in fall and winter simply because they’ve often been on the market for a few months, and sellers’ agents often take this time to reevaluate their positions as owners become more eager to sell their properties.
These kinds of soft deadlines can exist for buyers in fall as well. Many may want to be all moved in for the holiday season. That fact is just another reason why waiting until winter to buy typically affords such steep price improvements.
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