Don’t wait until spring to start your home search
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.
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.