You've gotten your financing in order, and you have an idea of what you want. Now all you need is to find your dream home and you'll be set to move.
So when is the best time of the year for buying a first home?
Spring and summer
Spring and summer are considered the best time to buy a house. March through July are popular months for selling and buying a home, making spring and summer the time you'll find the largest number of homes on the market.
Pros of spring home buying
- Curb appeal at its best
Yards tend to look their best during spring and early summer, putting most homes' curb appeal at its peak. Gardens are in bloom, trees have new leaves and everything outside looks wonderful. You'll see your potential home in its best light.
- Best time to switch schools
Families with young children generally like to move after school lets out for the year. Putting a house on the market in spring or summer helps facilitate this desire. If you have children, moving during this time gives them the advantage of avoiding the "new kid" label at school.
- Large number of homes for sale
Generally this is the time when the market is flooded with homes for sale. If you want a selection, this is the time to buy.
Cons of spring home buying
- Don't blink or it's gone
Homes tend to move quickly in spring and summer. Buying a home is a big decision, but if you're in a hot market where homes are moving quickly, you'll have to be prepared to move quickly yourself or you might just lose out on some homes.
- Selling a home can be difficult
If you're selling your home in tandem with making a home purchase, your home will be competing with many other homes for sale, putting added stress on the sale. If your new purchase is contingent upon selling your home first, the stress is even greater.
- Competitive home prices
Because of the influx of houses on the market, prices tend to be competitive. You may find yourself in a bidding war for a home if it has wide appeal.
While spring and summer are undeniably the best times to find the most homes on the market, "off-peak" times (usually November through February) have their own benefits as well.
Pros of winter home buying
- Lower selling prices
Because most people do not want to make purchases during this time, many homebuyers listing their homes during winter months are usually willing to at least consider lower offers.
- Lower moving costs
Not only does the winter usher in lower home prices, but in many cases it offers lower moving costs as well. Paying movers to load up your possessions or even pack and move you can be much lower than in the spring and summer months.
- Good time to make school transitions
Next to moving in the summer and starting a new school at the beginning of the year, families with children will find putting a child in a new school is the second half of the year is the second-best time to make a new start. January marks the beginning of a new school semester and is a good time to make an appearance.
Cons of winter home buying
- Fewer homes on the market
A homebuyer's choice of homes can be half of what it is during spring and summer months. For picky buyers or those who want to have a selection, this can be a deterrent.
- Holiday blues
A new home can be a nice holiday treat or it can be a nightmare. Some home owners see a new home purchased during the holidays as a wonderful present. Others cannot see past all the unpacked boxes or the fact that holiday decorations may have to be put on hold because of the upheaval of moving.
- Curb appeal at its worst
While some yards look good year round, most don't. Buying a home in the winter months, when trees and gardens are barren, may involve quite a bit of visualization on a potential buyer's part.
There is no magic formula for identifying the best time to purchase a home. However, knowing the pros and cons of each season should help you to better evaluate your needs are against what the market has to offer.