The weather outside may be frightful, while the fire is so delightful. However, instead of letting it snow as the famous lyrics go, why not go house hunting instead?
While you might think winter is the perfect time to go skiing, ice skating and tobogganing, it is also a great time to buy a house. After December, and right before the winter cold really sets in, January and February are when you can find a great deal on a property. Why? Let’s see.
Not many sellers want to list their house during the winter. And can you blame them? Who wants to move during the winter, when there’s snow on the ground and you have to pull the kids out of school? If someone is selling their house during winter, it’s usually because they are a “motivated seller.” The most common reasons to sell during winter are divorce, a job offer in a new city, or an estate sale. Whenever you start looking, it’s important to speak with the listing agent and find out why the house is on the market; any of the previously mentioned reasons for selling could be beneficial to you, when it comes time to negotiating the sale.
How can you benefit as the buyer, when a house is for sale during the winter? In a balanced or buyer’s market, typically you have more power to negotiate with sellers. You may be able to get away with putting more conditions in your offer, such as a condition on inspection and/or financing, which might not fly during the hot spring market. Once you know the seller’s motivation, you may have a better chance of getting the house for under asking price, scoring a great deal.
Winter is the toughest season a property faces, making it a great time to inspect a home. You can see if the windows are sealed or drafty, and test out the heating system to see if it’s in tip-top shape. If you’ll be living in the basement, it’s important to go downstairs and see how warm it is. The inspector isn’t able to tear down the walls and see the type of insulation, in the winter
, so you’ll want to see if you’ll be toasty warm or if you’ll need to bundle up in the basement.
Now, buying in the winter isn’t always the best idea. In a seller’s market, there will be even fewer houses available, which could drive prices up even higher. Also, sellers tend to list less desirable houses during the winter season. But if you’re willing to look around, and the seller has time to let you commission a home inspection on a property you like, you could end up getting a far better deal (and in a less stressful season) in the winter than in the spring.
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