Don’t wait un­til spring to start your home search

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - Mau­reen Hughes On Real Es­tate

As Thanks­giv­ing beck­ons in the win­ter months, many peo­ple hun­ker down and await spring­time to be­gin their home search. As spring and sum­mer are the high sea­sons for home sales, some­times the for­got­ten win­ter months can be a buyer’s mar­ket and have an big ad­van­tage for fam­i­lies seek­ing to make a move. If you can over­come mov­ing around the hol­i­days, win­ter might be a great time to shop around.

Fewer buy­ers = big­ger deals

While win­ter brings fewer homes on the mar­ket, most peo­ple who choose to list their home in the win­ter months are typ­i­cally do­ing so out of ne­ces­sity, or their home was listed ear­lier in the year and for one rea­son or an­other it didn’t sell. With fewer buy­ers on the hunt, your op­por­tu­nity to lever­age a great deal is greatly in­creased. With a strong mo­ti­va­tion to sell, of­ten buy­ers can make a lower of­fer and find a more fa­vor­able re­sponse. You could also ask for added perks like din­ing room fur­ni­ture or a chan­de­lier that fits your style. Lower com­pe­ti­tion also means you have more time to con­sider your op­tions as op­posed to the fast act­ing spring­time mar­ket. Don’t be afraid to hag­gle or ask for money needed for re­pairs. Banks may also re­duce clos­ing costs to win your win­ter busi­ness.

Win­ter health check

While you will be re­quired to trans­verse slip­pery side­walks and snow cov­ered land­scap­ing, the win­ter brings a huge ad­van­tage as you can see the work­ing order of a home’s abil­i­ties dur­ing the cold months. Check­ing the heat­ing sys­tem func­tion, plumb­ing, gut­ters, drafty win­dows and leaky roofing are ad­van­tages of a win­ter pur­chase. Win­ter brings the ul­ti­mate test for a home’s sea­wor­thi­ness - and ad­van­tage spring and sum­mer buy­ers are not able to view.

Agents are avail­able

Off sea­son show­ings have the ad­van­tage of agents on both sides hav­ing greater avail­abil­ity, as well as other in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als such as lenders, ti­tle com­pa­nies, etc. Real es­tate agents will have a lighter client load and be able to fo­cus more on your needs and search cri­te­ria. Some lenders even waive fees dur­ing the off-sea­son to en­cour­age bor­row­ers to use their ser­vices. Like­wise, movers tend to lower their costs dur­ing the win­ter months.

Land­scape ad­van­tage

While lawns and gar­dens won’t be per­fectly pruned and

flow­er­ing, you will be able to see how the town or neigh­bors plow and salt the area. You can see if there are kids out play­ing in the snow and catch a glimpse of the neigh­bor­hood dec­o­rat­ing in all it’s glory. You may also be able to gain a great in­di­ca­tion of the prop­erty as a blank slate for your imag­i­na­tion with­out the pre­vi­ous own­ers in­flu­ence, as most gar­den items will be dor­mant for the win­ter.

Ask for a home war­ranty

Home in­spec­tions can be chal­leng­ing in the win­ter. With the po­ten­tial of snow cov­ered roofs, air con­di­tion­ing that isn’t run­ning, an out­door pool that has been closed, etc and other ar­eas that can’t

be check­ing in the win­ter months, it’s a great idea to pro­tect your­self from fu­ture is­sues when you get a home in­spec­tion. Ask the seller for a home war­ranty, cost­ing any­where from $300-$500 that cov­ers main items such as heat­ing and cool­ing sys­tems, plumb­ing, elec­tri­cal and come ap­pli­ances. An­other op­tion is to re­quest the seller to in­clude an af­fi­davit at clos­ing in­di­cat­ing that spe­cific items are in good work­ing order.

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