By Dan Green | Reposted from themortgagereports.com
Winter is often a “slow period” in the housing market; a time characterized by fewer home buyers and a potential lull in prices.
This winter, however, home values appear to be holding steady.
First-look housing market data from Clear Capital suggests that the January markets remains buoyed by buyers who are taking advantage of a lull in competition, snatching up homes in the current U.S. inventory.
For renters and others who want to buy a home, the winter months can offer advantages over the coming spring season, which is expected to be the strongest in a decade.
The Benefits Of Buying A Home In Winter
Traditionally, fewer homes are sold during the winter months of December, January and February nationwide.
Since 2007, for example, existing home sales during winter months has averaged 4.3 million, on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis as compared to 4.42 million during the other three meteorological seasons.
Astute home buyers can take advantage of this drop-off, and potentially find a “better deal”. There are a few reasons why.
There Are Fewer Home Buyers In Winter
It’s no surprise that colder weather can deter a home buyer. It’s human nature to “do less” when it’s below-freezing, or other snowy, slushy or miserable. And cold is relative, too. A 40-degree rainy, cold day in San Francisco, California may have the same effect on home sales as a zero-degree day in Chicago when the wind’s blowing.
Snow storms make an impact, too. This year’s “Nemo” storm shut down most of Boston, Massachusetts and all of Connecticut and upstate New York, for example, and made home physical walk-throughs more challenging.
Fewer active buyers means less competition for a home which may reduce the likelihood of multiple-buyer situation. With fewer buyers bidding on a home, you’re more likely to go into contract at a great, low price.
In the spring and summer months, when buyers are more plentiful, competition is much hotter. This can propel home prices higher if home supply fails to meet buyer demand.
National housing supply was 1.82 million in December, down 22% from the year prior.
Sellers May Be More Motivated In Winter
Winter home buyers can use psychology to exact lower sales prices, too.
Home sellers are aware that winter months in housing are typically slower than spring and summer, and many REALTORS® advise against listing between December and February unless it can’t be avoided.
In this sense, “winter sellers” may have a different series of motivations than a spring seller who’s just “testing the market”.
Whether it’s financial strain; an impending move to a new state; or, expanding the family, sellers who list their homes for sale during winter months may be more wiling to negotiate with a buyer on price and may be more willing to meet a buyer’s demands for a quick closing or to cover the buyer’s closing costs as part of the transaction, for example.
Sellers listing during winter may also be willing to pay for a buyer’s title insurance, home warranties, or/and city transfer taxes, where applicable.
Mortgage Processing May Be “Faster” In Winter
Winter home buyers may also find the mortgage approval process to be a little bit easier — especially because mortgage rates have been rising lately. When mortgage rates rise, lenders tend to underwrite fewer home loans, which can result in faster approval times.
Home buyers in the winter months of December, January, and February may be more able to make a “quick closing” than buyers in May, June and July, resulting in additional negotiation leverage with sellers for which closing in 30 days or fewer is important.
This can also be a strength for buyers who buy homes in foreclosure or short sale situations. The ability to get financing and to close on a home quickly can mean the difference between an accepted home contract, and a rejected one.
How Much Home Can You Afford?
Buying a home during the winter months offers more than the potential for a “better price” — it also gives a buyer the chance to see how a home’s systems function in the cold. Do the windows let in drafts? Does the heating system function? Are there cold spots in the house?
If you’re a winter home buyer, first you’ll want to know how much home you can afford, or get approved for. Get today’s mortgage rates online, and plug them into your monthly housing budget. Getting a personalized rate quote is free, and fast.