When it comes to buying a house, there are plenty of factors to take into consideration: inventory, pricing, location, benefits, interest rates and more. But have you ever considered how buying a home at different times of the year may also present different pros and cons depending on the season? Understanding what each season brings to the table from a home buying perspective will help you better choose your ideal time to purchase, based on your goals and needs.
Since each Canadian’s home buying experience will vary greatly depending on the property of choice and priorities of the buyer, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the best time to purchase a house. That being said, there are certain times of the year that will present unique opportunities that may lead to better pricing and less competition.
Benefits of Buying in the Spring
Spring is the season of abundance, both in nature and in the Canadian housing market. It’s the most popular time of the year to buy a home because it immediately proceeds winter, a time when real estate agents have properties they’ve been waiting to sell. The housing market lull experienced during the winter months bursts forth in the spring and leads to an increased sales inventory. Often, properties are listed higher in the spring, as the grass turns green, flowers begin to bloom and homes show better in the nicer weather.
Spring also tends to be a popular time to sell for many parents with children as it gives them a chance to sell, move and get re-settled before school starts again in the fall.
This season will bring with it a plethora of buyers and sellers, which makes for a healthy marketplace, but also means you can expect more competition and perhaps even a bidding war. If you plan to start looking for houses in the spring, you should be prepared to move quickly by ensuring you’re pre-approved for a mortgage and are very clear on what you want/need in a home so you can be prepared to pounce as soon as you see something you love.
Benefits of Buying in the Summer
Just like with spring, summer can be a busy season for the real estate market as well. The market will be full of buyers who are ready to commit and are prepared to act quickly when they see something they want. This means early summer can be just as competitive as spring, so if you can wait until later in the season, you may be able to get a better deal with less hassle. In most areas of Canada, the housing market will likely slow down toward the end of August so this is typically a good time to find a deal because sellers may be willing to cut prices further in order to sell before the fall.
If you plan to start looking for houses in the summer, be prepared to come in with a strong offer and competitive price. Sellers will be looking to seal the deal with a buyer who is organized, serious and ready to close the deal. If you’ll need to sell your current home in order to buy a new one, you may want to consider doing both in the summer as there will be a lot of buyers and sellers on the hunt. Also keep in mind that summer weather can vary greatly depending on which province or city you live in. While the season is a busy time for real estate, it isn’t always ideal to be house hunting in sticky humid weather and extreme temperatures.
Benefits of Buying in the Fall
Many real estate experts will agree that buying a home in the fall is the most ideal option, more specifically during the month of August. At this time of the year, you can still expect a good inventory, but often lower prices as buyers become desperate to sell before the seasons change. You may find homes for sale at this time of the year that have been on the market for a lot longer than is typical for the area. Keep in mind that this isn’t always a bad thing and can sometimes just mean the price was too high or it doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter mold of what most buyers are seeking.
If you’re on a budget or strapped for cash, fall can be a good opportunity to scoop up a great property from a motivated seller. Competition tends to drop around this time of the year as people, particularly parents, will have already secured their desired property prior to the start of school or have put the task on hold until the spring. If you’re able to wait longer and move into the month of October, desperation can really hit sellers hard at that point while they’re scrambling to get their properties sold and off the market before winter arrives. They may also be incentivized by getting a tax write-off before the end of the calendar year, so if you’re flexible, fall can be a good time to negotiate.
If you’re wanting more one-on-one attention from a real estate agent and a more hands-on approach during the house hunting process, this time of the year can be ideal as most agents will have much fewer properties on their hands going into winter, and as a result, they’ll be able to spend more time helping you with your search.
Benefits of Buying in the Winter
Winter is typically the season where you’ll find the best prices and the least competition across the board. While most sellers will suspend their listings from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, often times the sellers who don’t, are very motivated to sell. This means you can find yourself in a very good position when it comes to making offers and striking up a deal. Since this is typically a slower time for the real estate market, you may also find that real estate agents are more open to negotiating closing costs and commissions.
Do keep in mind that while competition is low and there are plenty of deals to be had in the winter, the inventory can also be quite low compared to other seasons so it may be difficult to find your dream house, especially if you’re very specific about what you want or which areas you want to live in. Be sure to also factor in the weather where you live and how it will impact your ability to house hunt. Other issues could also arise when looking at properties in the winter versus seeing them in the spring. Natural light can be hard to judge at this time of the year and your inspector may have a difficult time determining the state of the roof when it’s covered in snow, or the air conditioner’s effectiveness during frigid temperatures.
While the housing market does tend to fluctuate with the seasons, there are many other forces at play that can influence housing inventory, pricing and even interest rates.
Housing Marketing Conditions
Ideally, you want to buy a home in a buyers market, but don’t overthink the state of the housing market too much because it isn’t always possible to time things perfectly. Regardless of how much the properties are selling for, you should consider how mortgage rates will affect your total expense over the lifetime of a loan. Sometimes a low price on a home can seem tempting in the short term but could be easily and entirely offset by a high interest rate.
The condition of the housing market will vary depending on which province you live in, or even what neighbourhoods you’re looking to purchase in. If you’re looking to move to a location that’s currently trending and on the rise, you could pay higher prices and find there’s a much lower inventory regardless of what time of year you’re looking.
Determining whether or not you should buy a home should always start with whether you’re ready to take on the financial responsibility. It won’t matter which season seems best if your credit is in poor shape and your debt isn’t exactly under control. Take the necessary steps to ensure you’re actually prepared to buy a home before you jump in and start looking for properties. The more organized and educated you are in regard to how the process works and what you can expect to encounter, the more likely you’ll be able to navigate things smoothly and find your dream home at any time of the year.
If you’re curious about your mortgage options or just want to learn more about the home buying process, reach out to our team at Rocket Mortgage to see how we can help you.