Bare trees, fallen snow, and cold temperatures don't usually make you think of house hunting, but maybe it should. While spring and summer remain the busiest, most popular times to buy a home, there are several benefits to buying a house in winter here in Minnesota.
If you’ve grown frustrated over being in price wars with several other buyers, or felt like you just can’t get out to see a home fast enough before it’s sold—you’re not alone. Looking for a home during the winter months (November – February) can help alleviate these headaches caused by high demand. Having fewer buyers competing for homes can help your odds of finding (and eventually purchasing!) your perfect home.
You can attribute this short reprieve from competition to several season factors:
- Kids in school – Families with school-aged children tend to wait until after the school year to look for a new home because they don't want their children to transition to a new school mid-year.
- Focused on holidays – While this might not be the case after January, many families are too focused on holidays in November and December to house hunt. Instead, they wait until spring to start the search.
- Labor of moving – Not many people like the idea of moving their belongings from one residence to another in the snow when spring and summer offer warm, sunny weather.
Remember, the fewer people that are out looking to buy a house, the fewer offers you need to compete with for the house you really like.
Lower Prices (Generally speaking)
Historically, once the first snow falls, house prices typically decrease. This is due to the anticipation of a “quieter” market during the winter. So, unlike the people who are buying their house in spring or summer and paying over the asking price to beat out the competition, you are more likely to pay the actual asking price (or below!).
While this seasonal shift is still true, realtors are seeing a change in the winter housing market. According to Adade Amenounve, licensed Realtor and Homeowner Development Coordinator at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, the winter housing market is getting busier and becoming more of a seller's market versus a buyer's market. He says it's been this way for the past three years, but there's no way to know if it will continue.
Considerations When House Hunting in the Winter
House hunting in the winter can be very beneficial, but it can also provide challenges. If you plan to continue your home search in the winter, here are some things to consider:Keep the holidays in mind – It's true that there are fewer people looking to buy houses in the winter, especially around the holidays, but there are also fewer people working or in town. If you're looking to buy a home near the holidays, make sure your realtor, the seller, and the seller's realtor are available. You also need to consider your pre-closing to-do list. Once your offer is accepted, you have 45-60 days to complete the necessary tasks before closing on the house. If part of those 45-60 days includes holidays, you may have a hard time getting an inspection, insurance, cashier's check, etc.
Ask for summer photos – Buying a home in the winter will help you determine if the furnace works, if the roof has ice dams, if the house is well-insulated, and if there are moisture issues. But often times it can be difficult to see certain elements of a home in the winter due to snow or ice coverage (i.e. condition of the house's foundation, roof, lawn, trees, shrubs, exterior HVAC unit). Ask for photos of the house in the summer so you have a better picture of what you're buying.
So, what are you waiting for? The odds are in your favor! Lace up those winter boots and let your hunt for your perfect home begin!