While traversing icy roads and trekking through snow banks might not be the most appealing way to find a new home, it could be the smartest. Winter urges us to hunker down and hide from the elements, but those daring enough to head into the white wilderness might just walk right into a steal of a deal as house-hunting in the off-season can pay off in multiple ways.
Winter is not the hot time to sell a home…and everybody knows it. As such, sellers during the slow season could have outside factors forcing their hand to place properties up for sale, putting buyers in a much better position. From November to February, listing prices tend to be less, bringing that dream home a little closer to…well, home. Additionally, needy sellers are more likely to accept lower offers and may be willing to wheel and deal on closing terms. That giant leather sectional and matching ottoman go just perfectly in the den, don’t they? Ask the seller to throw them in to sweeten the deal. If it’s the middle of January, they might just leave you those fancy end tables, too!
Buying a house is never foolproof as all sorts of hidden problems can be overlooked, but with a solid home inspection report and some winter weather, you might be as close to covered as you are going to get. While houses can quit on you throughout the year, the winter months tend to throw the biggest curve balls. Furnaces put under pressure to keep up with cold weather love to crash and burn when you need them most. Gaps in insulation placement can result in ice dams or frozen pipes (observe the roof carefully for bare spots where snow has melted due to heat loss). Windows that would otherwise seem sufficient show their weaknesses by letting in chilly winter air or reveal blown seals when moisture crystallizes between panes. And those neighbors, whose house seemed so very far away through the rows of bordering trees, can actually see right into your bathroom window once those leaves are on the frozen ground. These problems, which often lay dormant in the warmer months, become much more visible when snow and ice arrive, making winter a prime time to spot potential problems.
Purchasing a home is a stressful and time-consuming process, so attentive customer service is a welcomed addition for any prospective buyer. From lenders to realtors to home inspectors to movers, nearly every person who plays a role in the transfer of property will have at least a little more time in the winter months. When business is slow, the incentive to make money is stronger, encouraging everyone to work harder to earn and keep their clients. This is good news for buyers, especially first-timers who may have additional questions and require more one-on-one assistance to finalize a purchase. Correspondence is likely to be responded to quickly and completely, and buyers are apt to feel more like a priority than just another purchaser.
Spring and summer are the busiest seasons for house-buying, and as such, the time from initial offer to close can take quite a while, but during those frigid winter weeks, closing times are sometimes shortened due to inactivity. Anyone who has ever purchased a house will tell you that waiting on a closing date can be anxiety-inducing. Reducing the hold-time to getting those keys in hand is a huge advantage of homebuying when the market is slow.
Blizzards and ice showers don’t quite scream, “Let’s pack all of our belongings and move across town,” but those willing to take a polar plunge may just reap the biggest benefits. House hunting in the heat of summer isn’t exactly an all-day joy ride anyways, so try going against the grain and discover what off-season advantages are waiting for you this winter. While traversing icy roads and trekking through snow banks might not be the most appealing way to find a new home, it could be the smartest. Winter urges us to hunker down and hide from the elements, but those daring enough to head into the white wilderness might just walk right into a steal of a deal as house-hunting in the off-season can pay off in multiple ways.
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